Experts Skeptical of ‘ISIS’ Threats to Facebook, Twitter Founders

Experts Skeptical of 'ISIS' Threats to Facebook  Twitter Founders

Mark Zuckerberg at a preview day of the the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 21, 2016. Alberto Estévez/EPA

(ABC News) — A group of pro-ISIS hackers this week threatened the founders of the world’s largest social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, by posting a video online showing the faces of cyber CEOs Marc Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey riddled with computer-generated machine gun bullets, though experts and officials haven’t given too much weight such threats.

The hackers, who call themselves in mangled English “Sons Caliphate Army,” released the video because Facebook and Twitter have been on a campaign to shut down ISIS accounts that spread propaganda, display gruesome execution videos, facilitate communications and assist the terrorist group to recruit followers.

“You are not in our league. If you close one account we will take 10 in return and soon your names will be erased after we delete you [sic] sites, Allah willing, and will know that [sic] we say is true,” the 25-minute video warns over images of ground combat and screenshots of suspended social media accounts. The video was posted on an account on social media service Telegram.

There is no indication, however, that core-ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, has the capability to launch an assassination attempt inside the U.S. or even a sophisticated attack such as the slaughter in Paris last year, officials have told ABC News.

To date, ISIS has relied on general calls to wannabe jihadis in the U.S. to attack targets such as a “Draw the Prophet” contest in Garland, Texas, last year, which was attacked unsuccessfully by two ISIS-supporting gunmen who were killed by law enforcement.

“What we learned from the Garland attack is that lSIS supporters in the United States do take cues from the threats that go out over social media — but erratically,” ISIS expert J.M. Berger told ABC News today. “So while the odds of a successful plot may be low, we can’t rule out that someone will try to respond to the call. That said, there are thousands of threats for every one attempt at an attack.”

Such threats from ISIS are nothing new. Twitter CEO Dorsey has been threatened frequently since 2014 by supporters and members of ISIS, including depicting him beheaded by British ISIS executioner “Jihad John.”

ISIS threatened France repeatedly in videos last year featuring French jihadis in Syria but did not announce in advance its surprise assault in the streets of Paris last year. None of those who appeared in the videos were among the assailants in Paris.

“ISIS is bombastic in their threats, particularly in videos. The issue becomes whether any keyboard warriors decide to actually act on the open call to violence,” said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and a former U.S. counterterrorism official.

The ISIS account suspensions by Facebook and Twitter have clearly impeded the group’s ability to spread its message and to communicate internally over the past year, Berger assessed in a study for the program last week. The West also has seen a severely diminished output by the core-ISIS propagandists targeted by U.S.-led airstrikes.

The Sons Caliphate Army claimed in response they have compromised “more than 10,000” Facebook accounts and “more than 5,000” Twitter accounts.

Categories: National News