Among the keen followers of Edward Snowden’s new Twitter persona are terrorists associated with Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria and the Islamic State terror army.
A new report from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which tracks radical Islam’s personalities and pronouncements on social media, said Mr. Snowden’s terrorist followers are particularly interested in his tweets about how the U.S. surveils its enemies.
MEMRI estimates that “at least several hundred” Islamic terrorists are among his 1.51 million followers.
In one tweet, Mr. Snowden, the ex-contractor for the National Security Agency who leaked troves of top-secret data on surveillance, produced a graphic on how airplanes intercept telephone cell tower signals.
“Snowden often tweets about surveillance and encryption, two areas of interest to which jihadis and their supporters pay close attention,” the MEMRI report said. “Many loyal to either Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch Jabhat-Al Nusra (JN) or to ISIS follow Snowden’s account. Some retweet his tips or engage him directly by asking questions.”
The Islamic State is known as ISIL or ISIS.
MEMRI’s report reproduced a sample montage of known Islamic terrorists subscribed to, or following, Mr. Snowden’s Twitter account and his 135 tweets to date. He is “following” one Twitter user: the National Security Agency.
On Oct. 11, he tweeted an artist rendition of the four steps by which a surveillance aircraft tracks wireless devices.
“For those asking how tracking phones and wireless devices (your laptop) from a plane works,” he tweeted, providing the website address for the graphic.
An al Qaeda fighter named Abu Sufyan al-Libi retweeted the post to his followers, MEMRI said.
Also on Oct. 11, Mr. Snowden injected race into his Twitter feeds.
“Tech design to fight al Qaeda gets used to track Black Lives Matter. War front to home front,” he said.
The next day, a Black Lives Matter activist asked Mr. Snowden what the group could do to escape U.S. government surveillance.
Mr. Snowden replied, “Organize. Compartmentalize to limit compromise. Encrypt everything, from calls to texts (Use Signal as a first step).”
Signal is a readily available encryption app.
Even before he posted his Twitter account on Sept. 29, Mr. Snowden’s copious leaks on how the U.S. monitors terrorists, and the public, had alerted al Qaeda to change how it operates.
“Snowden’s impact on the tactics and methods of terrorist groups is notable,” MEMRI said.
Al Qaeda’s English-language magazine, Inspire, had urged terrorists to contact editors via emails. After the Snowden leaks, it suspended such contacts.
In its 12th issue, Inspire lauded Mr. Snowden, as did the Taliban English-language magazine Azan in 2013.