BREAKING: Anonymous Affiliate Reveals 26,000 Pro-ISIS Twitter Accounts
A spokesperson previously associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous dumped a list online Tuesday of more than 26,000 Twitter accounts formerly or actively supporting the Islamic terrorist group ISIS.
Among the users on the list are 10,408 active Twitter accounts and almost 16,000 suspended accounts, many of whom have resumed their Twitter activity under a similarly named new account. The database was accumulated by a source outside of Anonymous, who declined to be identified.
A post on Medium linking to the list can be found here.
The spokesperson behind the dump, who goes by the alias XRSOne, released a list of 9,200 Twitter accounts associated with ISIS assembled by hacktivist groups Anonymous, CtrlSec and GhostSec earlier this month. The source behind Tuesday’s list — frustrated over Twitter’s lack of response to ISIS’ growing influence and distribution of Islamic extremist propaganda online — reached out to XRSOne with the database, which was compiled with a proprietary algorithm the source designed to mine Twitter for user accounts associated with ISIS. (RELATED: Anonymous Releases 9,200 Twitter Accounts In Support Of ISIS Online)
“Every word, every image and video is designed to inspire hate. Every gender, race, religion, creed, and sexual orientation is mocked and demoralized. Looking through these accounts you will see complete disregard for human life,” XRSOne wrote in a statement accompanying the list.
“This list provides insight into what is essentially the largest social media marketing campaign ever launched. The target audience is individuals with an unstable ideology, the product is depravity.”
An independent analysis of more than 50 accounts included on an early copy of the list provided to The Daily Caller yielded conclusive evidence that the accounts actively support ISIS.
For example: the banner photo on the user account @aabdullah19811 states “The Islamic State remains,” and the profile description for @_20kilaafa roughly translates as, “We are terrorists and terrorism is the duty of the book and Sunnis.”
The account description for @hamodyyyyyy says “Son of the Islamic State,” and the user’s feed includes a tweet advising ISIS soldiers to refrain from using GPS-enabled devices, presumably because they can be used for tracking and targeting. User @abufatimah10‘s feed includes posts bragging about ISIS territory expansion.
Several accounts on the list retweeted a UmmahNieuws retweet of a Sunday New York Times story about 150 ISIS soldiers holding off an estimated 30,000 Iraqi and militia troops in Tikrit for four weeks, which they said is evidence God is on the side of ISIS. User @Orginal_hourse’s tweets include support for the January attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, though al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has since claimed responsibility for that attack.
Multiple accounts retweeted a @MogadishuNews tweet about a popular Somali cleric urging the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab to pledge allegiance to ISIS.
User @SDawlaty‘s retweets include multiple photos of ISIS soldiers deployed to “protect” a school full of children from “Western coalition bombing” and others of “Islamic State female jihadists” posing around a BMW M5 with AK-47 rifles. Another from @_Salsabil states “in no way whatsoever do I support #IS based on whims. I done research & found truth.”
One tweet from @BMW_SPEED_500 included a clip of Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson interviewing former CIA Directorate of Operations Gary Bernsten about an increasing number of extremist groups in the Middle East and Africa, including Boko Haram, swearing allegiance to ISIS. Bernsten goes on to describe ISIS as “the most successful Sunni terrorist group in history.” ISIS sympathizers post such clips as a form of bragging about the West’s acknowledgment of the group’s power and influence.
“I firmly believe leaving these accounts online to collect a very insignificant amount of intelligence doesn’t equate the very large risk ISIS will succeed in radicalizing someone who resides within the borders of a coalition country,” XRSOne told The Daily Caller. “When intelligence becomes priority to public safety we need to step back and consider reform.”
“Twitter advocates the freedom of an individual to express their opinion, ISIS wants to remove that freedom from us. It should never be okay to give hate, violence and oppression a voice.”
NEXT PAGE: ‘This shows the how ineffective Twitter’s rate of suspension has been’
The database used to assemble the list includes scripts designed to scrape Twitter for popular hashtags and lists assembled by other users of ISIS supporters. Additional scripts identify new supporters by tracking the same followers across multiple accounts, and a final script removes duplicates and confirms if an account is active, suspended or dead.
“The purpose of storing information about previously suspended accounts is the ability to use scripts to look for accounts that may be created in the future, as a lot of the ISIS accounts are essentially the same username with a variation in perhaps one character,” XRSOne told TheDC. “It’s relatively easy to guess the next one.”
Many of the suspended or closed accounts were tracked by looking up tweets including the hashtag “tangodown,” which Twitter users include on posts meant to identify ISIS supporters in an effort to have their accounts suspended or removed.
“The suspended accounts serve three functions: being able to view archived data about them in hopes of tracing a user from a suspended account to a new active one, using previous usernames to predict future ones with a slightly different number or a character or two of difference, [and] keeping a tally of exactly how many accounts they’ve used,” XRSOne said.
“This shows the how ineffective Twitter’s rate of suspension has been.”
Twitter has been less than actively engaged in tackling ISIS propaganda on the social media platform. A report by the Brookings Institution earlier this month counted at least 46,000 Twitter accounts associated with ISIS in the last few months of 2014. Twitter by comparison only deleted 1,000 accounts between September and December 2014, leading the study authors to conclude that number could be several times higher. (RELATED: Alarming Number Of Twitter Accounts Associated With ISIS)
“By virtue of its larger number of supporters and highly organized tactics,” the authors wrote, “ISIS has been able to exert an outsized impact on how the world perceives it, by disseminating images of graphic violence (including the beheading of Western journalists and aid workers and more recently, the immolation of a Jordanian air force pilot), while using social media to attract new recruits and inspire lone actor attacks.”
Of those accounts, 20 percent listed English as their primary language, and each account has an average following of about 1,000 Twitter users. A small group of between 500 and 2,000 supporter accounts are largely behind ISIS’s growth on social media, according to the report.
Once the database receives all of the necessary input, it can perform its function of tracking down and adding up ISIS Twitter accounts “without needing the intervention of a human.” According to XRSOne, if one man could do that, Twitter as a company and manager of its own platform could certainly do more.
Reached for comment by The Daily Caller, Twitter declined to comment on the record.
“If [Twitter’s] true mission is to promote the freedom of speech, they shouldn’t give a voice to those who seek to remove it.”