25 January 2013

Somalia: Twitter Suspends Al-Shabaab's Account

Twitter suspended the account of al-Shabaab on Friday (January 25th), days after the militant group threatened to execute Kenyan hostages and posted photographs of a French commando it claimed to have killed.

Al-Shabaab's English-language account redirected to a blank page with a message from Twitter announcing that it had been suspended.

Nonetheless, al-Shabaab's Somali- and Arabic-language accounts continue to operate. Al-Shabaab used its Arabic account to denounce the suspension as censorship. "This is new evidence of the freedom of expression in the West," it said.

On Wednesday, al-Shabaab threatened via Twitter to execute Kenyan hostages if the Kenyan government failed to release Muslim prisoners facing terrorism charges, giving the government a three-week deadline.

Last week, al-Shabaab posted photographs of what the group claimed was a French commando it had killed during a failed French operation to liberate hostage Denis Allex.

Twitter warns that accounts can be suspended if members violate its rules, which include the publishing of "direct, specific threats of violence against others". Users are also blocked if they use Twitter "for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities."

Al-Shabaab's account, which was opened in December 2011, had more than 20,000 followers before it was suspended.

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