Above: The official English-language Twitter account of the Hamas movement (@HamasInfoEn) has been suspended.
Today, Monday, November 4, 2019, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Tom Reed (NY-23), Max Rose (NY-11), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) announced that Twitter suspended content affiliated with Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah, from its platform.
Twitter’s action follows the bipartisan group’s October 22, 2019, letter demanding the company stop blatantly violating U.S. law, to immediately change their policy, and to remove all content from Foreign Terrorist Organizations and affiliated profiles, including Hamas and Hezbollah, by November 1st.
“There is simply no reason why terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah, who have killed countless Americans and our allies, deserve access to U.S.-based social media platforms to promote themselves as sponsors of violent, radical, hate-filled extremism. With these first steps, Twitter is now taking measures to address the militant jihadist organizations on their platform. This is a big day in the fight against terror. We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that Twitter, and all other social media networks, deliver on their commitment to standing up to these threats from foreign terrorist organizations,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Our technology companies still have work in the global fight against terror, white supremacy, and disinformation campaigns.”
“This is a win for America, our allies in the Middle East, and freedom around the world. There is no fair reason to allow terrorist organizations to use Twitter to spread their hate and threaten the people we care about around the globe,” said Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23).
“Hamas, Hezbollah, and terrorist organizations around the world cannot be allowed to use social media to spread their hateful message, recruit, and radicalize,” said Congressman Max Rose (NY-11), chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism. “I’m encouraged to see Twitter take action to remove these terrorist-backed accounts because social media companies have a responsibility to prevent terror groups from mobilizing support on their platform. But make no mistake, our work isn’t done. The most likely terrorist threat we face today is someone who has been radicalized online. Terrorism moves at the pace of social media so we must work with technology companies to do everything possible to protect public safety.”
“Terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas should not have a presence on any social media platforms. These groups use these platforms to spread hateful propaganda and recruit new members,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). “While I welcome this long overdue change in Twitter’s policy, we must ensure that Twitter and other platforms follow through and continue to crack down on the spread of terrorist propaganda online. This is essential in keeping our country safe from transnational threats.”
Among the accounts Twitter suspended are both the official English and Arabic language accounts of the terrorist Hamas movement, the English and Arabic language accounts of Hezbollah television channel and propaganda news service Al-Manar, the Hamas television channel and propaganda news service Quds News Network, and other Hamas and Hezbollah affiliated activists.
In Twitter’s November 1, 2019, response letter, the company said, “Twitter’s policy is to remove or terminate all accounts it identifies as owned or operated by, or directly affiliated with, any designated foreign terrorist organization. If Twitter identifies an account as affiliated with Hamas or Hizballah, Twitter’s policy is to terminate that account. We are in the process of reviewing the accounts identified in your letter and if we confirm that they are foreign terrorist organization accounts, they will be terminated.”
Hezbollah and Hamas are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) by the U.S. Department of State, making it illegal for Americans to knowingly provide those organizations material support or resources. The U.S. Department of the Treasury may also require U.S. financial institutions to block all transactions involving the assets of a designated FTO.