Twitter has suspended the account of Jordanian preacher and al-Qaida spiritual leader Abu Qatada, along with two other influential scholars aligned with the extremist group.
The three accounts, which between them had tens of thousands of followers and were used several times a day, were at the heart of an online network of al-Qaida supporters, said Cole Bunzel, scholar of jihadism at Princeton University.
The accounts focused mostly on the war in Syria, frequently attacking Islamic State, but also commented on other issues, from law to religious judgments.
“Attacking the west is not a priority in their messaging,” Bunzel told the Guardian. He added that Abu Qatada and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s commentary had mostly been limited to the war in Syria.
Twitter has cracked down heavily on Isis supporters, leading them to shift towards alternative messaging services including Telegram, but al-Qaida supporters have not been so heavily targeted.
“Twitter has been a permissive forum for supporters of al-Qaida as compared to supporters of the Islamic State who have been pushed off,” Bunzel said. “The focus of these crackdowns has been on the Islamic State.”
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