The Twitter account belonging to a self-identified spokesperson for an al Qaeda-allied terrorist organization has been suspended.
The account, which began in late 2011 and is believed to belong to a representative of al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based terrorist organization, is currently out of service, days after it threatened the lives of Kenyan hostages, according to a report by The Associated Press.
Representatives for Twitter declined to comment on exactly when or why al-Shabaab's account was suspended, due to "privacy and security reasons," but under "Twitter Rules," the company writes on its website that "you may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others."
In addition to the reported threats against the Kenyans, earlier this month the same account posted a long missive about France's failed attempt to rescue a French intelligence agent codenamed Denis Allex and posted images of another man it said was a French special operations soldier who was killed in the doomed raid. The statement said the group had reached a "verdict" on what to do about Allex and, a few days later, al-Shabaab said they planned to execute the spy. Then, using Twitter, they announced Allex was dead.
The account, along with those of other terrorist organizations, for years has provided a window, tinted by propaganda, into the group, its ambitions and inner troubles - a resource for journalists and, presumably, interested intelligence agencies.
For instance, in March 2012, Twitter was the forum al-Shabaab used to deny it had arrested or was trying to kill its most high-profile member, Omar Hammami, a rapping American jihadist who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Mansoor al-Amriki. Hammami had taken to the internet to describe, in detail, a fissure within the terror group. He may himself be operating another Twitter account with which he engages in long exchanges about the state of jihadism in Somalia.
In September 2011, ABC News reported on a curious public spat that emerged between NATO forces and the Taliban - all over Twitter. Lebanon-based Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, also has a media arm that Tweets frequently.