Twitter Terror 2015: Online Jihadist Hails Power of Social Media After Texas AttackPosted: May 7, 2015
An Australian Twitter user and Islamic State supporter who appeared to encourage the terrorist attack on an anti-Islamic cartoon event in the US says his movement is “winning the minds of the young generation”.
“This is a war that will be won through the power of social media. We are winning the minds of the young generation.”
— Man who goes by the Twitter name ‘Australi Witness’
The man, who goes by the Twitter name Australi Witness, told Fairfax Media he supported what “our mujahideen [holy warriors] in Texas did” but denied that he specifically told them to launch the attacks, in which both assailants died and one security guard was wounded.
“Law enforcement agencies will consider statements, whether online or offline, to determine whether action can be taken. The online environment has no borders and terrorist propaganda is reaching directly into our homes and families through simple online searches.”
— A spokesman for Attorney-General George Brandis
The Perth-based man’s activities underscore how social media has created a global reach for jihad sympathisers who can inspire violence across great distances without ever personally knowing the people they are inciting.
“This is a war that will be won through the power of social media,” the man said. “We are winning the minds of the young generation.”
Two men, Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi, opened fire with assault rifles on Sunday at an exhibition of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas. They wounded a security guard before being shot dead by a traffic policeman, who authorities in Garland say prevented a likely bloodbath.
Australi Witness insisted he did not “explicitly” tell Simpson and Soofi to carry out the attacks, though Fairfax Media understands he could face prosecution under the Abbott government’s new laws against advocating terrorism.
“I support what our mujahideen in Texas did, but I take no responsibility for it. Allah commanded them to attack, not me,” he said.
He reportedly posted before Sunday that “Kuffar [unbelievers] are holding a large ‘Draw Muhammed (PBUH) event in Garland, Texas on May 3rd. Please spread to US brothers.”
He also shared tweets by others encouraging an attack similar to the massacre at the office of Paris-based Charlie Hebdo magazine, including calls for “brothers in Texas” to go to the event “with your weapons, bombs or with knifes”, News Corp Australia reported.
He also shared a map of the building where the cartoon event was held and tweets by others encouraging an attack similar to the massacre at the office of Paris-based Charlie Hebdo magazine, including calls for “brothers in Texas” to go to the event “with your weapons, bombs or with knifes”, News Corp Australia also reported.
Fairfax Media conducted an interview with him through Twitter. While his identity cannot be verified, Fairfax Media has no reason to doubt he is the same person who posted the previous statements that appear to encourage the Texas attacks.
He refused to give details about himself, but said he was aged in his 20s, lived in Perth and regularly attended a mosque. He said he previously worked at Amnesty International Australia.