How Social Networks Are Dealing With Terrorists

Morocco dismantles terror recruitment cell, photo: Magharebia/flickr
Morocco dismantles terror recruitment cell, photo: Magharebia/flickr

At the end of January, Twitter suspended the account of the Somali-based Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The account was taken offline after the group posted a video on Twitter threatening to kill two Kenyan hostages unless the Kenyan government met its demands.

Twitter didn’t comment on the account deletion, but social-media experts reasoned that Al-Shabaab had violated Twitter’s terms of service, which prohibit direct threats of violence.

It is a pattern that has become increasingly familiar. A Facebook or Twitter account affiliated or run by a terrorist organization is thrown into the spotlight, activists and the media buzz about it, it is suspended by the social network — and then later a new account emerges.

As terrorist groups seek to reach a broader global audience, their migration onto social networks has proven to be a challenge for the likes of Twitter and Facebook. While governments want social networks to clamp down on terrorist groups, Internet activists are calling for greater transparency into social-media companies’ rules and regulations.

Central African Republic: How Strong Is The Peace Deal?

Rebel in Northern Central African Republic. Photo: hdptcar/flickr

On January 11, the Central African Republic (CAR) government, led by President François Bozizé, and the rebel coalition Séléka signed a new peace deal. The agreement comes after a month of political and military instability that saw rebels advance on the capital Bangui in an attempt to overthrow Bozizé during a military advance. It is expected that the peace deal will result in the naming of new a prime minister and the formation of a government of national unity. According to Centrafrique Presse Info, President Bozizé is expected to respect the decision to appoint Nicolas Tiangaye, [fr] a lawyer and former president of the Central African Human Rights League, as the country’s new prime minister.

Under the Radar: The M23 Rebellion in Eastern Congo

A camp set up by the DRC national army to protect Goma from the M23 rebel group. Photo: UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

The ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been one of the deadliest since World War II, with over 5 million casualties. Though the latest in a series of civil wars ended in 2003 and the transition to peace and democracy began in 2006, the mineral-rich eastern DRC continues to experience widespread violence. Behind the official front lines, fighting continues, with an ever-growing number of actors destabilizing an already fragile region. In recent months, it was the so-called M23 rebel movement that once again drew international attention to the DRC with its capture of Goma, a regional capital on the border with Rwanda.

Also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army, M23 named itself after the 23 March 2009 peace accord signed between the government of the DRC and the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a rebel militia composed mostly of ethnic Tutsis. After the collapse of the peace deal, former CNDP leader Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda, who in 2006 was indicted by the ICC for recruiting child soldiers, led the formation of this new rebel group, which is some 1,200 to 6,000 fighters-strong. Citing unfair treatment and an incomplete fulfillment of the peace deal, which saw the integration of the group into the Congolese army, M23 led a mutiny in April 2012. Heavy fighting ensued, which eventually led to the capture of Goma at the end of November – despite the presence of MONUSCO peacekeepers and Congolese troops. Eleven days after seizing the city, however, as part of a regionally brokered deal, M23 withdrew from Goma and agreed to observe a 20 km buffer zone around the city in exchange for a range of their demands being met, including the release of political prisoners.

Zambian President Orders Killing of “Rebels” No One Can Find


President Michael Sata
President Michael Sata, Zambia’s Commander-in-Chief. Photo courtesy of Zambian Watchdog.

It remains difficult to confirm the existence of the Barotse Liberation Army, the supposed paramilitary wing of various groups calling for the secession of Zambia’s Western Province. However, if President Michael Sata’s order to the army to kill the rebel activists is anything to go by, the organization is nevertheless considered a serious threat to Zambia’s national security.

The November 30 order came after it was reported that the rebels were recruiting former soldiers and policemen to serve in the Barotse Liberation Army. Speaking at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional Defence Command Staff College graduation ceremony, Sata said:

In Lukulu (Western Province) people have formed a group called Barotse Liberation Army, they are recruiting people. As of today, I am aware that they have recruited 276 people. They are recruiting former army officers, police officers and former poachers…

The Elusive Quest for Peace with the M23 in the DRC

M23 troops in Bunagana. Photo: Al Jazeera/Wikimedia Commons

The current conflict in the Kivu Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) threatens to linger on despite an international effort to broker a truce between the M23 rebellion and the Congolese government. The 2012 version of this conflict is difficult to grasp, particularly because the M23 is a shifting armed movement, both geographically and politically. Its leadership is interchangeable among commanders, and the movement is supported by foreign influences with an eye on the geological riches of the region.

The evolution of the M23 Rebellion

Who exactly are the M23 rebels? This is the question the Rift Valley Institute’s Usamala Project tries to unpack in its recent report “From CNDP to M23: The evolution of an armed movement in Eastern Congo” (PDF). While the armed branch of the rebellion is easy to define, its political leadership is more elusive. The report explains further: