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During two recent apparent cyber attacks on the Shamukh website, many jihadists opened Twitter accounts and Facebook pages to communicate, he said.

“Both of these forum takedowns—in March and April, as well as in December and January—exposed the limits of al Qaeda’s official online media procedures, which are headed by its distribution network al Fajr Media,” Zelin stated.

“Al-Fajr is responsible for coordinating between al-Qaeda Central (AQC), its affiliates’ media outlets (As-Sahab Media for AQC, al-Malahim for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Furqan for al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and al-Andalus for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)), and the forum administrators.”

While the websites were blacked out, likely the result of an intelligence service cyber strike, al Fajr was unable to send official content to al Qaeda affiliates.

“If the dissemination of official releases is no longer to be done centrally, it has the potential to make the forums obsolete and usher in a new era whereby jihadi activists primarily rely on social media platforms to interact with one another,” Zelin said.

Facebook use by terrorists also appears to be increasing, he said.

Bill Gertz is senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon. His Twitter handle is @BillGertz