IS Release of Haines Beheading Video Marks Full Circle Journey Back to Twitter
The Islamic State’s (IS) September 13 release of the video “A Message to the Allies of America,” showing the execution of British aid worker David Haines, marks the group’s first official release on Twitter since it began migrating between a series of alternative social media outlets two months ago.
Yet, IS' return to Twitter to release the execution video of Haines demonstrated a higher level of discreetness than prior releases. The video was not posted under the name of any of IS’ official media groups, but rather by an account under an anonymous name.
The Haines beheading--the third Western hostage beheading video from IS--makes Twitter the latest source for such releases. The first was the beheading of American journalist James Wright Foley on the social networking platform Diaspora, and it was followed by the beheading of another American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, which was set to be released on the Russian social networking platform vKontakte (VK), but was obtained and leaked by SITE Intelligence Group.
In late-August, the group moved its media groups to VK, the accounts of which were taken down as of September 11.
In July, I wrote about the unexpected move of IS from Twitter to Friendica.eu, and following the report, Friendica shut down the group’s accounts, forcing it to migrate to Qwitter and then Diaspora, until those accounts were also removed. In closing my July article, with the IS move to Friendica, I wrote:
Whatever the reasons are for the group to temporary migrate some of their accounts to Friendica, it is not an abandonment of Twitter. After all, the announcement declared that they “decided to stop publishing on Twitter temporarily,” and not permanently.
Indeed, IS returned secretly to Twitter to release the new beheading video, with an anonymous account named “mansoroun”. The account was created at least two weeks ago, as early as September 1, as a private account requiring an invitation to follow. However, at the time of the video’s release, the account became public, publishing the video in a series of seven tweets with links to various sharing sites.
The “mansoroun” account was suspended about four hours following the video’s release. However, it gained more than 700 followers in its short span of activity in posting various links to access to the video, leading to its further dissemination.
IS’ release of the Haines beheading video on Twitter proves once again that, as I noted previously, “Twitter remains a valuable and irreplaceable tool for IS’s recruitment and propaganda dissemination.”