An al-Qaeda Twitter account was suspended a few days after the group posted pictures of murdered French soldier.
The Somali group al-Shabab, which is connected to al-Qaeda, posted the graphic picture a few days ago, News.com.au reported. The al-Qaeda group also used its Twitter account to threaten Kenyan hostages.
The al-Qaeda Twitter account suspension hit the English-language @HSMPress account on Friday. The Twitter ban didn’t extend to all al-Qaeda accounts, however. Other Somali and Arabic language accounts of al-Shabab were still online on Friday.
The French commando shown by the al-Qaeda Twitter account had been killed during a failed rescue attempt aimed at freeing a French agent held for more than three years. That hostage was later killed, the Twitter account announced.
The al-Qaeda Twitter account ban has sparked quite a bit of debate, the Los Angeles Times noted:
“At least one researcher, Foreign Policy magazine contributor J.M. Berger, had publicly called on Twitter to shutter the account after the threats, but other analysts and reporters scrambled to make sure other Shabab accounts were still active. Arabic and Somali accounts named for Shabab were still operating as of Friday morning.
“Blocking the Twitter account is “justifiable but is it helpful?” tweeted Daniel Howden, a journalist who covers Africa for the Independent. The short messages posted on Twitter have provided a digital window onto militant groups.”
Online, other extremists spoke out against what they viewed as censorship.
“This is new evidence of the freedom of expression in the West,” the message read.
This is not a free speech issue, but rather a private company enforcing its own rules. Twitter notes that it can suspend accounts at any time, and prohibits “direct, specific threats of violence against others”, according to regulations posted on the social media website.
The group had used its suspended al-Qaeda Twitter account to threaten the lives of several Kenyan hostages if the Nairobi government didn’t release prisoners held on terrorism charges.