Social Media Jihad: Mohammed al Zawahiri’s new Facebook page

1 Mohammed al Zawahiri Facebook Header.JPG

The header for Mohammed al Zawahiri’s Facebook page.

Earlier this week, Mohammed al Zawahiri, the younger brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, began posting to his own Facebook page. Several members of his al Qaeda-linked clique in Egypt were already using Facebook to push their message, and the younger Zawahiri already had his own Twitter feed. But now Mohammed al Zawahiri has his own Facebook page, too.

The small number of postings that have been published thus far are consistent with his work elsewhere. One post contains a biography of Mohammed al Zawahiri that was posted on another website. That biography highlights, among other details, the Zawahiris’ disagreements with Sayyid Imam al Sharif (a.k.a. Dr. Fadl), who wrote a scathing rebuke of al Qaeda’s approach to waging jihad. Mohammed al Zawahiri was one of several Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) leaders who signed a letter rebutting Sharif’s 2007 critique. Al Zawahiri and his pro-al Qaeda allies were imprisoned at the time.

Three video clips posted on his Facebook page show Mohammed al Zawahiri encouraging would-be jihadists to support: the mujahideen in Mali (who are, of course, led by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its allies), the Al Nusrah Front in Syria (which is under the command and control of al Qaeda in Iraq) and the Islamic State of Iraq (which is al Qaeda in Iraq).

Another video clip shows Mohammed al Zawahiri sitting alongside Murjan Salim. The pair worked together in Ayman al Zawahiri’s EIJ, with the younger Zawahiri reportedly serving at one point as the head of the EIJ’s military committee, as well as a member of the EIJ’s elite Shura (consultative) council. Salim, meanwhile, reportedly served as the head of the EIJ’s sharia and media committees.

The video that shows Mohammed al Zawahiri and Salim sitting next to each other was produced by Al Faruq media, an Egyptian jihadist propaganda outfit that is openly pro-al Qaeda. Also shown in the video are Ahmed Ashush, who heads Ansar al Sharia Egypt, and Sheikh Adel Shehato, who has since been arrested by Egyptian authorities and charged with being a leader of the so-called Nasr City cell. That cell has multiple ties to al Qaeda. Both Shehato and Ashush were senior EIJ figures and remain openly pro-al Qaeda. Clips from the same Al Faruq video were included in Ayman al Zawahiri’s Oct. 24, 2012 video.

2 Al Faruq screen shot.JPG

Mohammed al Zawahiri is shown sitting in front of al Qaeda in Iraq’s flag. To his left (our right) is Murjan Salim. To his right (our left) is Sheikh Adel Shehato. Standing in the upper left-hand corner of the image is Ahmed Ashush.

Still another video shows Mohammed al Zawahiri speaking at an Ansar al Sharia Egypt event. The younger Zawahiri is clearly a prominent figure in the group.

3 Mohammed al Zawahiri Ansar al Sharia Event.jpg

Mohammed al Zawahiri speaking at an Ansar al Sharia Egypt event.

One of the more interesting aspects of post-Arab Spring Egypt is the degree to which al Qaeda-types openly debate the merits of the terrorist organization’s ideology and practices. Dr. Ragheb Elsergany, who runs Islam Story, has criticized al Qaeda’s belief system in a video that can be found online. Mohammed al Zawahiri has responded to Elsergany in a 12-part video series that is linked to on his new Facebook page. Zawahiri defends various aspects of al Qaeda operations, including the use of violence against the US.

In this vein, Mohammed al Zawahiri also linked to a video that juxtaposes Elsergany’s teachings with the arguments of al Qaeda’s leaders: Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and…Mohammed al Zawahiri. Such a grouping is telling.

Other current postings on Zawahiri’s Facebook page include a link to a piece criticizing the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia for trying to dissuade jihadist recruits from fighting abroad, as well as a video criticizing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for not allowing a number of detainees out of jail.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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8 Comments

  • “Several members of his al Qaeda-linked clique in Egypt were already using Facebook to push their message, and the younger Zawahiri already had his own Twitter feed. But now Mohammed al Zawahiri has his own Facebook page, too.”
    I seriously wonder how Mohammed al-Zawahiri will update his relationship status, I mean would it be ‘it’s complicated’? He might find the options for a relationship status offensive since the common options don’t cater to the ‘Salafi-jihadi’ constituency. He better write Zuckerberg a complaint via email concerning discrimination. Better yet, I’m sure Mohammed al-Zawahiri is publishing a facebook fatwa as we speak.
    It’s too bad that the Prophet Muhammad didn’t have facebook or Twitter, I mean the ‘Salafi-jihadi’ constituency wants to practice Islam the way it was practiced in the 7th century right? I was not aware that the use of facebook and Twitter were normative traits of the Prophet Muhammad, I better dig through Bukhari and Muslim again in order to find it in the Sunna.
    Thomas and fellow LWJ followers, imagine Mohammed al-Zawahiri’s Twitter feed:
    @ZealotZawahiriEIJ “Ain’t no party like a Salafist party ’cause a Salafist party don’t stop!”
    #EIJisIslamicallyHustlin’ #CaliphateCountdown
    @ZealotZawahiriEIJ “Got no recruiting love from Saudi Mufti” #apostateinthelandofthetwoholyplaces
    @ZealotZawahiriEIJ “Sharia will liberate ya!” #nomorehumanmasters #manmadelawisaflaw

  • John Christopher Sunol says:

    this Jihad on social media is world wide

  • mike merlo says:

    at some point in time Egypt will put Mohammed al Zawahiri in jail. It’ll be interesting to ‘watch.’ Anything & everything that has anything to do with such an action, and then some, should be most entertaining & illuminating. If he should happen to be assassinated that to would make for some excellent ‘entertainment.’ Even better would be if he should just happen to disappear with nary a trace.

  • Stephanie says:

    I don’t think I’m going to add him as a friend. 🙂
    I don’t think we can count on him going back in the slammer with the Morsi government – and the fact that the Obama administration doesn’t seem to be putting much pressure on them with respect to the Islamists. They have no incentive to incarcerate him, especially since his ideaology has popularity with the masses.

  • UNF says:

    Wrong again, Mike, you overindulge in wishful thinking!

    A new-found passion for the exercise of ‘Free Speech’ is one of the democratic benefits brought to Egypt since the Popular Revolution disposed of your torturing string-muppet Mubarak. As long as Morsi/MB is in power and Zawahiri Jr. speaks in the same framework he has to date, compatible with their politics (i.e. not exhorting anyone to oppose the Egyptian government by force of arms), they will be perfectly happy to let him continue to add his piece to the lively political discourse.

    Of course, his ‘compatibility’ with FaceBook’s Zionist politics is a whole nother question, but entirely inconsequential as a veritable plethora of alternatives are available online.

  • mike merlo says:

    I’m pleased to read your crystal ball is fully energized. Since when have the benefits of Democracy prevented Muslims from jailing or imprisoning each other?
    To suggest that this so-called new found passion for “Free Speech” is somehow a phenomena of newly birthed origins is quite an understatement.

  • James says:

    Oh please, UNF. Facebook is a private corporation. They are not a government entity. And, the fact that being that this guy is in Egypt, US courts have no jurisdiction. Also, they have a TOS (Terms of Service) requirement among their members. This ‘free speech’ argument of yours has no legal standing.

  • UNF says:

    Well spotted, James – that’s because it is not a legal argument, but a political one.

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