Social media fundamentally changed the web of human interaction. Just as we can use it to share our thoughts and connect to an audience, so too, can terrorists.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a North African affiliate of Al Qaeda, held an open question-and-answer session on Twitter for journalists earlier this month.
“We are an inalienable part of this world, we live our time and benefit from every mean that serves our goals and clarifies the equity of course cause to the international public opinion who is unaware of a lot of facts,” AQIM said.
“This is our only mean to communicate with the international public opinion, since we are terrorists according to the dictionary of America and its agents in the region and the neutral and free journalists who search for the truth can only communicate with us through it, as for the direct contact it is a crime punishable under the laws of America, France, and governments of the regions, and leads the pro journalists directly to Guantanamo or Serkadji.”
The Q&A was led by Sheikh Ahmed Abu Abdulelah, the organizations’ media spokesman. He prompted journalists and members of the public to send questions in a two-hour window for him to answer. Only questions in English and Arabic were accepted, and all questions sent out of that time window would be ignored.
“With the grace of Allah receiving the questions which we conducted succeeded by the participation of international media and the interested figures and the news of declaring receiving the questions had a big impact in the media […] Alhamdulillah we got a lot of questions we omitted the repeated and kept the others, and we ask Allah guidance and success.”
Questions included “What is the kind of training, support, arms, and fighting force that you offered to Ansar Allah in Nigeria” and “What is the stance of AQIM from the other JIhadi groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham Bridages in Syria in relation to global jihad.” However, the talk mainly focused on the situation with France, which currently has ground troops in Mali.
When asked if AQIM had any relation to threats to blow up the Eiffel Tower, Ahmed Abu Abdulelah said, “We didn’t adopt that threat but we support and call all the Muslims to target France and its interests and subjects inside and outside France until it withdraws the lasts older from the land of the Muslims and lift its support or rulers of the region who oppress their people and its support to the Zionist enemy who occupies Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa one of the greatest sanctities of Islam.”
In response to follow-up questions about France, the spokesman said that the “fate of the hostages is in the hands of the French President” and that the French people “should bear full responsibility for the actions of their politician towards Muslims causes in general and the Mali cause in particular.” Furthermore, it is AQIM’s duty to support “our brothers and people in Mali.”
The Twitter account is under the name Al-Andalus Media and will be used to present “the facts,” as seen by AQIM, so “the sieve of the French media cannot block the sun of the truth all the time.” The account currently has 5,432 followers.