Islamic State (IS) supporters are using captured American journalist Steven Sotloff, whom the group threatened to behead upon further intervention from the US, as a threat toward the US using a new hashtag, "#StevensHeadinObamasHands."
Since the hashtag's first use on Twitter by the account of "Rabitat al-Ansar" on August 22, 2014, it has passed 118,000 uses, among which are rebuttals from IS critics.
Contrasting to IS supporters' recent use of hashtags like "#AMessagetoAmerica," which took a more celebratory tone to US journalist James Foley's beheading, messages containing the "#StevensHeadinObamasHands" hashtag are much more threatening.
One account, "al-Nasr Qadm," made a tweet on August 24 stating, "As you kill us in Iraq, bomb us in Yemen and torture us in Afghanistan, we will kill you wherever we find you." The same tweet was also made by various other accounts.
Other tweets were equally threatening. For example, the account of "Ansar Bila Hoodood" tweeted:
Regardless of any thing, do you want your prisoner or not?
If you care then STOP the drones attacks in Iraq&Syria.
Another account, under the name "Bint Najd#Khilafah," used the hashtag along with the message, "Opeople of America! Peace beupon those who follow guidance,and blasting and bombing for those who attackedus."
Other threats on Twitter came in the form of pictures. One account, under the name "Aboosh," tweeted a series of pictures containing text from other tweets, including that of al-Nasr Qadm's tweet stating that "we will kill you wherever we find you." Other pictures included one that stated:
O American Soldier
If we know your name and where you live,
We will target your family also.
Some tweets using the hashtag even drew on older jihadist attacks to taunt the US, like one by user "Raoa," which included a reference to the 9/11 attacks, claiming, "Nineteen Jihadists could demolish your buildings and destroy your economy!!"
Rebuttals to this tweet campaign were made not only by Americans and other Westerners, but also Saudi Arabians in light of King Abdullah's denouncing of IS. Many of the tweets expressed solidarity with the US, with users making tweets such as, "We as Saudis stands with our partners (USA) against terrorists group." Other tweets from Saudi accounts expressed a shared struggle against terrorism, with one user tweeting, "Saudi Arabia also suffered from terrorism crimes," and another stating, "Saudis warn the world before from these terrorists group in Iraq and Syria."