April 10, 2014

In a bid to reach Saudi youth, al-Qaeda recently used the Syrian revolution as a pretext to spread its extremist ideas through its numerous Twitter accounts. At first, these accounts took on an innocent character. Yet lately, al-Qaeda has used the cards of identity, belonging and nation to attract young people and push them toward the battlefields [of Syria].

Al-Qaeda’s use of the Internet is not new, but Saudi Arabia has continuously fought this development with its Communications and Information Technology Commission, which would block the group’s websites and forums within the kingdom. However, the emergence of social networking sites, especially Twitter, has allowed the organization to bypass the blocking. But why has al-Qaeda resorted to the website that only allows a 140 characters per post? How did the young Saudis fall for this trick?

Why Twitter?

Saudis started to sign up for Twitter in 2011, and the number of users has increased by the day. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in a 2012 interview, “Twitter is seeing some of its most torrid growth in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is the fastest-growing country with a 3,000 growth last month.”

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