It's truly shocking to hear an American citizen, Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, who is now a jihadi fighting in Somalia, call for a Charlie Hebdo-style mass murder in the United States against cartoonists who insult Islam. It's shocking because he can only say that because of the free-speech rights he enjoys as an American.
By Elias Groll
Australian cartoonist Larry Pickering is no stranger to controversy. The right-wing provocateur has drawn former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard clad in a dildo and is currently waging a campaign on his website against Halal meat. His depiction of the Prophet Muhammad being roasted on a spit as a pig sparked an array of threats, and in January, Australian authorities put Pickering under police protection.
In recent days, jihadis have once more begun an online drumbeat calling for Pickering’s murder, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi chatter and statements on the Internet. Other statements contained threats against American cartoonists as well.
On Monday, an Australian Twitter user and proclaimed supporter of the Islamic State militant group posted the address of the Australian, a newspaper that has published what the user, @AusWitness2, described as insulting images of the Prophet Muhammad. In the aftermath of the massacre at the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the Sydney-based newspaper was one of several outlets that published the magazine’s cartoons, which frequently depicted the prophet in satirical and sometimes unsightly ways. On Friday, @AusWitness2 complained about Pickering Muhammad cartoons.
On Thursday, an account purporting to belong to Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, an American jihadi reportedly fighting in Somalia, called for attacks to be carried out in the United States similar to those on the offices of Charlie Hebdo.
Hassan’s account, writing under the moniker Mujahid Miski, claims that his current handle, @_Love_Hoor_Iyah is his 31st such account. While Twitter frequently attempts to take down Twitter accounts belonging to militant groups or their sympathizers, it has struggled to do so in a timely fashion, and the Islamic State and its hangers-on have made the platform the main method of distribution for their propaganda.
Indeed, the statements about attacks on cartoonists remain available online four days after they were posted.