I briefed Twitter executives in September 2016 about how Islamist terrorists were using the site and what the company could do about it. Until that point, the relationship between my organization, the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, and the San Francisco-based social-media platform had been contentious. Twitter had repeatedly dismissed our calls to take action to stop jihadist infestation of the platform.
I began monitoring Twitter in 2010, when there were only a few jihadists on the platform. Then in 2011 the Taliban began tweeting, as did al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia. They were soon joined by U.K. jihadists such as pro-ISIS preacher and activist Anjem Choudary, a leading figure in outlawed organizations such as al-Muhajiroun. Radical Islamic terrorists used Twitter to spread their messages, call for attacks against Western interests, recruit new members, build sympathizers and raise funds. All of this was documented in Memri reports charting jihadist use of Twitter.