The Power of a Tweet: Elton Simpson and the #TexasAttack

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On May 3, the Twitter account of “Shariah is Light”—later revealed to be an Arizona man and subject of terror investigations, Elton Simpson—would hint at responsibility for an upcoming terror attack in Garland, Texas and claim allegiance to IS on behalf of himself and the other attacker:

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What If Baghdadi Is Incapacitated?

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A recent Guardian report states that the head of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was seriously injured in an air strike by the US-led coalition in Iraq. A more detailed report from Newsweek suggests that Baghdadi has been incapacitated—at least temporarily—and is currently unable to lead IS. An Iraqi expert on IS says that a new leader, Abu ‘Ala al-‘Afri, who trained in Afghanistan and who seems to be open to working with al-Qaeda (AQ), has taken over the day-to-day running of the group.

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The Disintegration of Libya and the Tale of Twenty Tribes

IS-fighters.jpg The mercury level of the national violence continues to rise in Libya, with a constantly growing number of significant armed political groups coming to prominence. Two rival national governments continue to claim legitimacy: one in Tobruk (the duly elected Council of Deputies) and one in Tripoli (the non-elected New General Congress, a self-proclaimed continuation of the previous General Congress elected in 2012 that agreed to dissolve itself after the June 2014 elections).

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The Convergences of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State

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For several months, I have been writing about signs of cooperation—generally on a local level—between al-Qaeda (AQ) groups and others that have sworn fealty to the Islamic State (IS). It might seem counterintuitive that the two, which have accused each other of assassinating leaders, engaged in a very public mutual disowning, and fought each other openly in some areas, would work together at all. But there is growing evidence of localized convergences between the two organizations, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and Tunisia. Whether this will turn into something more comprehensive is unclear.

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How the Islamic State is still Thriving on Twitter

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American actor and musician Jimmy Dean once said, "I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." To that point, there is no better example of adaptation-for-the-worse than the virus than the Islamic State (IS) on Twitter. As waves of social media administrators, hackers, and well intentioned citizens have continually attempted to push back at IS on social media—via shutting down, hacking, and reporting their accounts—it still thrives on Twitter.

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