CEP Calls on Twitter to Take Immediate Action to Stop Extremist Misuse of Its Platforms

(New York, NY) – A notorious online extremist operating under the name Mujahid Miski has used Twitter to threaten to behead Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to President George W. Bush and President of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP). CEP has tirelessly worked to bring attention to the misuse of Twitter by online extremists such as Miski.

The ability of known, self-identified extremists such as Miski to easily skirt Twitter’s flagging procedures by reappearing with different handles – and Twitter’s largely hands-off response – clearly demand a more serious and forceful action according to CEP, a bipartisan organization dedicated to identifying and combating global extremism in all its forms.

“How long do we have to endure this dangerous game of Whac-A-Mole?” said Mark Wallace, a former United Nations ambassador and the Chief Executive Officer of CEP. “The threat to kill the president of our organization is reflective of a much broader problem that must be addressed, and it can be addressed. As we have stated repeatedly in writing, we continue to stand ready to work with Twitter on the solution.”

Townsend has become the subject of numerous vicious threats from Miski, a self-described ISIS sympathizer and mobilizer. The threats come as a result of the organization’s ongoing “Digital Disruption” campaign, which identified and flagged Miski’s twitter accounts for its violent, extremist and inciting content.  CEP had previously written to Twitter to advise its leadership of the #CEPDigitalDisruption campaign aimed at identifying violent rhetoric on social media as well as gaps in Twitter’s monitoring and flagging policies. CEP flagged Miski’s account pursuant to Twitter’s reporting policies as early as October 16. Although that iteration of Miski’s Twitter account was eventually removed, he was able to quickly establish a new account to promote his extremist views and rhetoric including threats to behead Americans and praise for the recent murder of five individuals in an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem this week.

Following this most recent outburst of extremist rhetoric, Twitter suspended two accounts associated with Miski. Unfortunately, Miski returned to Twitter almost immediately and Friday morning made direct and violent statements towards Townsend. Mujahid Miski has been reported to be the alias of suspected American jihadi Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, who is wanted by the FBI, and is considered a serious and credible national security threat.

In light of these new threats, CEP is hopeful that Twitter will confront what is clearly a growing problem and work with public and private actors to develop collaborative and effective solutions.

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