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FBI hunts terror suspect on Facebook and Twitter
Tips from social sites might be the FBI’s best hope of finding suspected terrorist Ahmad Abousamra.
The FBI is tapping the Twitter and Facebook communities to help track down a man wanted on terror allegations.
The agency’s hunting Ahmad Abousamra, who grew up near Boston and is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Syria. The FBI believes he may be in the latter country, according to CNN.
Abousamra, who left the U.S. in 2006, allegedly sought military training in Pakistan to kill overseas American troops. The agency claimed the 31-year-old travelled to Iraq to try and join up with insurgents.
He was charged in 2009 with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, conspiracy, false statements, and aiding and abetting. A federal warrant for Abousamra was issued, and there’s a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Along with a co-conspirator (who was convicted last year), Abousamra was charged in a 2010 superseding indictment with “conspiring to provide material support” to al Qaeda.
The FBI is canvassing Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube users to help it track down Abousamra, and is using “limited advertising on a social media site to reach an overseas demographic.” The agency’s shared headshots of the suspect in the campaign to find him.
“Knowing that the public is the FBI’s best ally in finding fugitives, we’re requesting their assistance to locate Ahmad Abousamra,” said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of FBI’s Boston division.
Meanwhile, there are not 53,000 terrorists on Twitter. At least not in the way WND is spinning the story that Rep. Ted Poe wrote to the FBI asking the agency to shut down the accounts of extremist groups Hamas, el Sahbaba, and Hizbollah.
Poe claimed that “al-Shabaab would lose some 14,000 followers, Hezbollah 19,000 followers, and Hamas nearly 20,000 followers.” Some quick finger counting brings that total to 53,000. There is likely some overlap in the people who are following each account, so there are fewer “terrorists” than is being suggested here.
Also, there’s the little problem that following a Twitter account doesn’t automatically make someone a terrorist.
Photo via FBI/YouTube
Based in Montreal, Kris Holt has been writing about technology and web culture since 2010. He writes for Engadget and Tech News World, and his byline has also appeared in Paste, Salon, International Business Times, Mashable, and elsewhere.