As part of its monitoring of Islamist terrorism and fundamentalism worldwide, The MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) follows jihad online, including on social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Twitter began as an online social networking and microblogging service in English, and has gained popularity in other languages as well, including in Arabic across the Arab and Muslim world. It is increasingly being used by terrorist organizations and media outlets, and their online followers are growing in number. Organizations now tweeting include the Taliban (twitter.com/#!/alemarahweb and twitter.com/#!/ABalkhi), the Somali Al-Qaeda-affiliated group Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahedeen (twitter.com/#!/HSMPress), Hamas (twitter.com/hamasinfo and others), Hizbullah and its Al-Manar TV (twitter.com/#!/almanarnews), Ansar Al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF) (ansar1.info), and others.
About Kavkaz Center
Another region where Twitter has become popular is the Caucasus, which tweets in Russian. Tweeters there include the jihadi news agency Kavkaz Center. Established in 1999, Kavkaz Center states that it is an online Chechen news agency reporting on events in the Caucasus, Russia, and the Islamic world, in English, Arabic, Ukrainian, Russian, and Turkish. Banned in Russia, the website posts content encouraging and glorifying violent jihad in the Caucasus and elsewhere
Although it purports to be an independent news agency, Kavkaz Center is closely affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate (CE), a jihad organization operating in Russia’s Caucasian republics, and has posted videos featuring messages from and interviews with its leaders. The website has also featured exclusive information on developments in the CE, which could only have been obtained through close ties with CE operatives.
In May 2011, the CE was designated a Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department under Presidential Executive Order 13224; a year previously, its leader Dokku Umarov was designated a wanted foreign terrorist.
Kavkaz Center Asks Readers To “Render [The Mujahedeen] Real Help” On YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
On January 27, 2012, Kavkaz Center posted on its website an announcement about efforts by the KGB to have “video clips which are disliked by Russia” removed from “YouTube, Dailymotion, and others,” by “filing abuse complaints.” It appealed to its readers to “open en masse new accounts… with these video services and to upload video clips placed on the KC [Kavkaz Center], on their own channels as well as on other sites, to distribute the truth about the Jihad in the Caucasus.” It also urged them to “create accounts with Twitter, Facebook and share information,” and suggested that “those who live outside of Russia could also create accounts on Russian networks, without threat of KGB repressions.”
The notice added: “If at least a thousand readers of the KC, out of tens of thousands who daily visit our website, opens even one account and periodically updates it, it will help and support our brothers… Today, even one person on the battle field is a warrior! Modern technologies make it possible for anyone who genuinely cares about the Mujahideen not to stand aside and render them real help, becoming a participant in the fight of truth against the lie.” (To read the entire announcement, see Appendix III.)
Jihad in the Caucasus on Twitter
Kavkaz Center’s Twitter account, @kavkazcenter, launched July 10, 2011, links to their official website, kavkazcenter.com. As of January 12, 2012, it had posted 4,404 tweets (including retweets from the CE, Somali Al-Qaeda affiliated group Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen, and other groups) and gained 1,456 followers.
Kavkaz Center Twitter account
Many of the tweets on this account mock Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russia/the regime, while others follow the movements of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Tweets also focus on the jihadi front against Russia, and on international jihad fronts: Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, the Cacausus, Chechnya, Kazakhstan, Dagestan, and Georgia (for examples, see Appendix I).
A second account, @kavkaz_news, links to kavkaznews.blogspot.com, a non-official blog offering “news, facts and analysis on the Caucasus Emirate.” Kavkaznews.blogspot.com features multiple sections, including jihad, weapons and equipment, and explosive materials, with detailed bomb-making instructions, and contains many videos depicting operations of jihad groups and lectures of extremist scholars. In addition to CE announcements, it carries statements and publications from other jihad groups, such as the Taliban. Its Twitter account was launched on June 21, 2011; as of January 12, 2012 it had posted 542 tweets and gained 150 followers. This account is updated every few days.
Kavkaz News Twitter account
Tweets from this account focus on military operations of the Caucasus Emirate; news about Al-Qaeda and its leaders; and jihadi fronts in Russia, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, including the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban). They also link to speeches and videos of major Salafi religious figures (for examples, see Appendix II).
Kavkaz Center Tweets Jihadi Videos on YouTube
Kavkaz Center Twitter accounts also rely heavily on YouTube, though it has had no official YouTube page since April 2010. At that time, it had claimed, in a press release titled “YouTube Could Not Bear Dokku Umarov,” that “[o]n the request of Moscow, YouTube removed more than 300 clips from the Kavkaz Center, of ‘inappropriate content.'” The press release also attacked YouTube for “being increasingly engaged in scandals removing videos, which are disliked by this or that regime in different countries” and stated that “the total number of people who watched this video exceeded 800,000 in 4 days. This has become a kind of record for the YouTube.”
The Kavkaz Center tweets jihadi videos to other groups’ pages on a daily basis.
ВИДЕО. Шейх Халид #Ясин: “Кто является преуспевшим”youtube.com/watch?feature=… #kavkazcenter #кавказцентр #ислам January 29, 2012
Kavkaz Center ВИДЕО. Мнение Шейха Завахири и Шейха Макдиси об официальных саудовских ученых youtube.com/watch?v=m22LN7… / youtube.com/watch?v=NAWAD_… January 24, 2012
ВИДЕО Чеченские моджахеды youtu.be/lfW_fBOWxMg /youtu.be/gGuPk30MSvA / youtu.be/4kOzdAwogMQ /youtu.be/gJSD1j1Hrmk #kavkazcenter January 23, 2012
ВИДЕО. Жертвы кадыровских муртадов youtube.com/watch?v=wTc6sY… #kavkazcenter #кавказцентр January 23, 2012
Appendix I: More Examples of Kavkaz Center Tweets
Over 35 puppets killed or wounded, Russian terrorists killed in ‘catastrophic’ numbers in Chechnya kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/20… #kavkazcenter
January 11, 2012
Fightings in #Chechnya continue. Casualties of invader terrorists and puppets rise kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/20… #kavkazcenter #caucasus
January 11, 2012
ИЭА. Полная статистика Джихада в Исламском Эмирате Афганистан за декабрь месяц http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2012/01/03/87878.shtml #kavkazcenter #афганистан #джихад [IEA: Full statistics about jihad in Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan during December 2011]
January 3, 2012
#ЙЕМЕН. Йемен может стать стартовой площадкой для экспансии Джихада в Аравию http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2012/01/03/87875.shtml #kavkazcenter #алькайда #джихад [Yemen: Yemen can become a springboard for expansion of jihad in Arabia]
January 3, 2012
#Jihad in #Caucasus – one of reasons for fleeing of Russians from #Russia kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/20… #kavkazcenter
December 29, 2011
#AQAP Emir sends Mujahideen to help murjites, beleaguered by Shiite militants kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/20… #kavkazcenter #yemen #alqaeda #alqaida
December 7, 2011
#СОМАЛИ. Амир «аш-Шабааб»: «Мы продолжим свою борьбу» http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2011/12/27/87723.shtml #kavkazcenter [Somalia: Emir of Al-Shabab: “We will continue our struggle”]
December 28, 2011
#ПАКИСТАН. #Моджахеды ТТП провели серию успешных операций против местных куфроохранителей http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2011/12/15/87435.shtml #kavkazcenter #джихад [Pakistan: Mujahedeen of TTP conducted a number of successful operations against the local kufar protectors]
December 15, 2011
Дагестан: На Джихад выходят люди с высшим образованием, министры, учёные, мастера культуры и спортсмены http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2011/12/12/87331.shtml #kavkazcenter [Dagestan: In jihad are engaged high–educated people, ministers, scholars, masters of culture and athletes]
December 12, 2011
ВИДЕО. Военные операции талибов против войск харбиев НАТО и США http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5mWVP9w14Q&feature=related #kavkazcenter #afghanistan #афганистан #талибан – [The video has been removed from YouTube] [Kavkaz Center: Video of military operations of Taliban against NATO and US forces]
December 11, 2011
АКИМ. Аль-Кайда в Исламском #Магрибе объявила о захвате французских #шпионов http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2011/12/10/87284.shtml #kavkazcenter [AQIM: Al–Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb announced about capture of French spies]
December 10, 2011
ВИДЕО. Объединенный вилаят #КБК: Диверсионные операции муджахидов http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LCybKIS28gY #kavkazcenter #кабарда #балкария #карачай [The video has been removed from YouTube] [Vilayat KBK: Video of subversive operations conducted by the Mujahedeen]
December 6, 2011
ВИДИО. Спортивные развлечения муджахидов Имарата Кавказ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LSJncnqayns #kavkazcenter #дагестан [Kavkaz Center: Video of sports activities of Mujahedeen of Imarat Kavkaz]
December 4, 2011
ВИДЕО. Моджахеды #Афганистана ведут бой http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cjjgzwyq83g&feature=related #kavkazcenter [Kavkaz Center: Video of Mujahedeen of Afghanistan waging a fight]
December 4, 2011
Appendix II: Examples of Kavkaz News Tweets
ИМАРАТ КАВКАЗ. Сводка боевых операций моджахедов за месяц мухаррам 1433 года по хиджре (27 ноября — 25 декабря 2011 г.). http://kavkaznews.blogspot.com/2011/12/1433-27-25-2011.html [Imarat Kavkaz: Summary of the military operations of the mujahedeen during the month of Muharram (November 27-December 25, 2011)]
December 27, 2011
Сводка боевых операций муджахидов Имарата Кавказ 2011 год. http://kavkaznews.blogspot.com/2011/12/2011_16.html [Kavkaz news: Summary of the military operations of the mujahedeen of Imarat Kavkaz during 2011]
December 16, 2011
ИЭА. Полная статистика Джихада в Исламском Эмирате Афганистан за ноябрь месяц 2011 года. http://kavkaznews.blogspot.com/2011/12/2011.html December 3, 2011 [IEA: Full summary of the operations of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan during the month of November 2011]
Шейх Абу Мухаммад аль-Макдиси о вероубеждении и методологии муджахидов Имарата Кавказ. http://kavkaznews.blogspot.com/2011/11/blog-post_7741.html [Kavkaz News: Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi about the creed and the methodology of the mujahedeen of the Imarat Kavkaz]
November 21, 2011
АЛЬ-КАИДА. Пришло подтверждение Шахады (иншаа-Ллах) Шейха Анвара аль-Авляки. http://kavkaznews.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-post_11.html [Al-Qaeda: Shahada (Insha’ Allah) of Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki was confirmed]
October 11, 2011
ИМАРАТ КАВКАЗ. Джихад выходит за региональные пределы и переносится на территорию России. http://kavkaznews.blogspot.com/2011/10/blog-post_8233.html [Imarat Kavkaz: Jihad is extending beyond the bounds of the region and expanding to the territory of Russia]
October 3, 2011
KAVKAZ NEWS: АЛЬ-КАИДА. Обращение Шейха Аймана аз-Завахири ко всей Исламской умме в переводе на русский язык (видео). http://kavkaznews.blogspot.com/2011/06/blog-post_6314.html?spref=tw [Kavkaz News: Al-Qaeda: The address of Sheikh Ayman Al-Zawahiri to the Islamic Ummah (video in Russian)]
June 22, 2011
Appendix III: Kavkaz Center Notice Urging Readers To Redistribute Its Videos
*R. Green is a research fellow at MEMRI.
*I. Razafimbahiny is a research fellow at MEMRI.
*Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute.
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 746, “Why Haven’t The Taliban’s Twitter Accounts Been Shut Down?,” October 7, 2011, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/5707.htm – October 7, 2011
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 772, “Somali Al-Qaeda Affiliate Al-Shabaab Tweets Jihad and Martyrdom,” December 13, 2011, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/5912.htm
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 781, “Hamas Tweets For Jihad and Martyrdom, For Expelling and Killing Jews, and For Conquering Jerusalem – Another U.S.-Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Served By Using Twitter,” December 29, 2011, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/5960.htm
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 777, “Twitter Continues To Evade Explaining Its Breaking of U.S. Law and Its Indirect Support For Online Jihad: The Case of Hizbullah and Al-Manar TV,” December 22, 2011, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/5942.htm
 See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 787, “Now Tweeting: Ansar Al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF) – The Main Al-Qaeda English-Language Forum – Spreading Online Jihad, Inciting and Instructing Activists To Carry Out Terrorist Acts, Obstructing Counter-Terrorism Measures in the West, January 20, 2011, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/6008.htm
 One example of this affiliation is an interview given by CE leader Umarov to Kavkaz Center. See: http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/blog_personal.htm?id=4964¶m=GJN
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 606, “YouTube – The Internet’s Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: Part II,” May 4, 2010, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4133.htm