The last few months social media like Twitter, FaceBook and (even) Google+ are used by Jihadist groups world wide. The best known examples are groups like Harakat Ahrar as-Sham al-Islamiyya, Jabhat an-Nusra and the recently formed coalition Ma’araka al-Jasad al-Wahid in Syria and as-Shabaab in Somalia. About daily these groups post about their successes in the battle against the regimes in Syria, Somalia and Kenia. There is little doubt that these messages serve the recruitment of new fighters from all over the world (we in Belgium know a bit about that).
What seems to be new however, is a Jihadist group that is open for Q&A. On March 28 al-Qaeda in the Maghreb started a new twitter account (
They published a declaration about the new account the next day and some tweets about the war in Mali were published. But then on March 30 they took on an unexpected strategy. They declared in Arabic, English and Spanish that they would answer every question via Twitter, if the question were to be asked during their “Q&A hour” on April 1. Too bad for those amongst us speaking Spanish, six minutes later they posted the following : “P.S. Only Arabic &English questions will be consider” [sic]. They even repeated that message in Spanish:
On March 31 AQIM remembered the world about the Q&A session:
And so I rolled the dice, not knowing wheter they would ever answer me:
@Andalus_Media how does AQIM situate Jihadi groups like Jabhat an-Nusra and Ahrār as-Shām in Syria in international Jihad ? Thanks
Both tweets were marked as a favourite and then it was a matter of waiting. Would they indeed answer and what would they reply ?
On April 18 they first released their answers to the English questions (http://ia801702.us.archive.org/5/items/Ansewrs.AQMI/answers.pdf) and two minutes later the Arabic version (http://ia801703.us.archive.org/11/items/answersI.1/answersI.pdf).
My first question was answered like this :
The stance of AQIM from the Jihadi groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al-Sham Brigades and the other Jihadi groups is alliance and support and searching for the ways of cooperation in goodness and piety to bring our Muslim Ummah out from the state of backwardness and humiliation which it fell in to after the fall of the Khilafah.
The second one:
Organizationally and administratively brother Khalid Abu Al-Abbas have declared that he seceded from AQIM but in Aqeeda and practically we Alhamdulillah are like one body in confronting the French crusade.
Further on, they elaborated a bit more on the second question when it was asked by
The honorable brother Mokhtar Belmokhtar aka Khalid Abu Al-Abbas is firstly our brother in the religion, we were joined by jihad for the sake of Allah for two decades, with all its memories and wounds, and today he decided to secede from our organization, and build a separate project and we have no trusteeship on anyone who works for Islam either it be in the fields of Dawah or politics or military.
Almost every question asked and especially the answers seem to confirm the more general view on al-Qaeda as an umbrella for several Jihadi groups world wide. The questions in a way are more rhetorical; almost every single thing is confirmed by AQIM. Above all, they seem to confirm the crucial role of al-Qaeda Central Command by Ayman az-Zawahiri:
Is there any coordination with Islamist political movements in the countries of the Arab Spring to help them to get empowered in authority?
The message of our sheikh and Amir Dr. Aymen Al-Zawahiri may Allah preserve him isclear regarding that issue which is calling to cooperation with all the Muslims individuals and groups, we cooperate in what we agree and advice each other in what we disagree, we cooperate in liberation of the Muslim lands and implementation of the Sharia, and retrieving our sovereignty on our resources, and achieve justice over the land
So, what we should ask ourselves here, in how much can we trust the answers given or is this just what we wanted to hear.
Previously published in Dutch on Doorbraak : http://www.doorbraak.be/nl/nieuws/sociale-media-en-de-jihad