On May 3, two heavily armed violent Islamic extremists from Arizona, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, attempted to murder attendees and organizers of a Garland, Texas gathering billed as a free speech event. Fortunately, security personnel prevented mass murder by killing the attackers.
Yet, as the post-incident investigation revealed, the killers were not alone on the long car ride from Phoenix. Stoking outrage over the planned event, which included a cash prize for the best "Muhammad" drawing, were on-line jihadists like Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan, better known as Mujahid Miski on Twitter, arguably the most influential and anti-American on-line recruiter for al-Shabab, al-Qaeda and ISIS. The 25-year-old former Minnesotan of Somali descent was in constant contact with shooter Simpson in the months leading up to the event. Miski is wanted by the FBI and under federal indictment on terrorism charges.
Miski hates his former home and is prolific in calling for acts of violence to be carried out in America. Lone-wolfers like Simpson and Soofi were just his latest twitter comrades.
Among his disturbing and shocking tweets, Miski has called for every Muslim to kill one Jew and has threatened to behead the president of the Counter Extremism Project Fran Townsend.
Miski openly boasts that he has been suspended from Twitter more than 30 times, yet is able to reemerge with different accounts and retain his followers, to whom he spews the same violent and extremist rhetoric.
CEP has repeatedly called on Twitter to permanently ban Miski as well as others, yet regrettably, Twitter appears to have done little if anything to ensure that the worst abusers of its platform, like Miski, are permanently kicked off.
In an April 16 Washington Post column, Twitter General Counsel Vijaya Gadde lawyered her way through an explanation of Twitter’s promise to crack down on abuse and harassment of women.
"As some of our users have unfortunately experienced firsthand, certain types of abuse on our platform have gone unchecked because our policies and product have not appropriately recognized the scope and extent of harm inflicted by abusive behavior,” she said. “Even when we have recognized that harassment is taking place, our response times have been inexcusably slow and the substance of our responses too meager.”
Precisely. Under Twitter’s new rules, “You may not publish or post threats of violence against others or promote violence against others.” Reportedly, some repeat offenders will only be allowed back on Twitter after providing a cell phone number, an absolute identification. The new policy supposedly relates not only to abuse and harassment of women, but to those, like Miski, who incite others to violence.
However welcome the announcement, it remains fuzzy as to how or how extensively the new policy will be carried out. There is no doubt Twitter has taken down some of the thousands of accounts that celebrate violence, promote terror and cheer on groups like ISIS.
But for how long. And how many users have been permanently eliminated? Certainly not Miski. Who, more than Miski, should be made to identify himself with a cell phone number to be allowed to tweet again?
Twitter’s responsibility to the safety and security of its users should be more far-reaching and transparent than stopping revenge porn.
It should include serious and verifiable steps to ensure that abusers are taken down quickly and a guarantee that the most abusive users, like Miski, whose presence is providing material support to terrorist groups, can be removed permanently.