Open Source Center Analysis: Social Media Promote Jihadist Group, Attacks in Syria
- 5 pages
- For Official Use Only
- May 14, 2012
OSC has recently observed two Facebook pages and a popular blog that promote the recently established Syrian jihadist group Al-Nusrah Front and jihadist attacks in Syria. As these pages are the top results for a Google search in Arabic of “Al-Nusrah Front,” they are likely to be visited by Arabic-speaking Internet users interested in the group. Observed activity on these pages suggests expanding interest in Al-Nusrah Front.
The two Facebook pages — Insaru Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusrah l-Ahal al-Sham – and a Syria-focused jihadist blog — Ansar al-Sham Network — have become the top three Arabic-language Google search results for “Al-Nusrah Front,” a Syrian jihadist group first announced in Januaryi that has claimed several attacks against regime targets there. This suggests the pages are becoming primary locations for Arabic-language materialglorifying Al-Nusrah Front.
- All three pages host Al-Nusrah Front’s official statements and the Facebook pages have been observed to further promote it by posting graphics, banners, and video compilations devoted to it.
- The pages all attempt to incite anger at the Al-Asad regime, with Insaru Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham posting content such as photographs of children reportedly killed in Syria and Jabhat al-Nusrah l-Ahal al-Sham and Ansar al-Sham Network prominently displaying articles and videos on Syrian “martyrs.”
- The Facebook pages also encourage attacks in Syria, by hosting basic military training materials, such as an instructional sniper video found on Insaru Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham. Similarly, Jabhat al-Nusrah l-Ahal al-Sham posts instructions for detonating a bomb without using a telephone trigger.
Facebook Activity Suggests Increasing Interest in Al-Nusrah Front
Although, thus far, users have indicated approval of the Facebook pages — by clicking the “like” buttons — relatively few times, the trend is increasing, suggesting heightened interest in Al-Nusrah Front. Statistics on readership of the pages are not available.
- As of 2 May, Insaru Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham readers have clicked “like” 481 times, and Jabhat al-Nusrah l-Ahal al-Sham users have done so 344 times.
- However, marking a substantial increase, during the week ending on 27 April, Insaru Jabhat al-Nusrah li-Ahl al-Sham received 143 “likes,” with 202 “people talking about” it. In contrast, during the week ending on 30 March –the earliest period for which data is available – the page received only 47 “likes,” with 60 users “talking about it.”
- Jabhat al-Nusrah l-Ahal al-Sham has experienced similar growth in activity. During the week ending on 27 April, it received 57 “likes” with 48 “people talking about” it, up substantially from 25 “likes” and 25 “people talking about it” in the week ending on 30 March.
The blog Ansar al-Sham Network reported between 33,000 and 78,000 views between 27 April and 5 May. Although it is not clear how the site calculates traffic, it appears to count visits on a daily, rather than cumulative basis. This high viewership offers further evidence of online interest in Al-Nusrah Front.