U.S.-based social media websites have long served as platforms for online jihadis, who have used them primarily to publish jihad-related news and to propagate their ideology by posting and reposting jihadi materials, including written, audio, and video statements from jihadi groups, as well as videos, magazines, and articles. Recently, as a result of the shutdown of all major jihadi forums, radical groups and individual jihad supporters have increased their use of Facebook and Twitter. In fact, for the first time, Twitter became a primary means of publishing statements and jihadi productions, a role which had previously been served by the jihadi forums.
On December 10, 2012, in an unprecedented move, the Somalia-based, Al-Qaeda-linked jihadi group Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen posted links via Twitter to the most recent speech by its leader, Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubair. The group used Twitlonger to post the password needed to access the linked content, as well as links to the new video, which was posted on YouTube several hours later.
Jabhat Al-Nusrah, which was recently designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S., has also used Twitter to publish its new propaganda video titled “The Battle of Aleppo,” which featured scenes of two suicide bombers attacking government facilities in the city. Al-Nusrah has also relied on Twitter to publish announcements of upcoming productions, as well as to clarify purportedly inaccurate reports. For example, on December 19, 2012, the group stressed that its leader, Muhammad Al-Julani, was alive and well, following reports of his death. A few hours later, the group tweeted that Al-Julani was to deliver a speech soon.
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