ICT Africa Writer
September 24, 2013
We have shared our opinions many times on cyber-espionage or cyber-surveillance
in Africa. Most of our opinions have largely been against the muzzling of the expression of free speech on the Internet by law abiding citizens who may be critical of their governments. In the wake of the callous, barbaric and cowardly assault on the innocent at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya
, and the use of social media by the terrorists to glorify the atrocities – we are compelled to comment.
Committing acts of terror like the ones that just happened in Kenya is despicable enough, but when terrorists responsible for such heinous acts can go on social media to boast about it and encourage others to follow suit, it gets really disturbing.
As the world was trying to make sense of the wanton destruction of innocent human life – including little children, some of whom were on a cooking competition, men and women – Al-Shabab, the terrorist organisation behind the murders was gloating about it on social media. According to one Al-Shabab tweet: "There are countless number of dead bodies still scattered inside the mall, and the Mujahideen are still holding their ground #Westgate,".
It really boggles the mind why terrorists like Al-Shabab should be allowed any access to any social media whatsoever. If Western governments can spy on the communications of their lawful citizens and if African governments can put so many resources into thwarting cyber-activities of their lawful citizens, why can’t there be a concerted effort to stop a terror organisations like Al-Shabab from using social media to promote terrorism?
We understand that there were some initial efforts to stop Al Shabab from using twitter as soon as the terror organisation twitted about the killing of 59 people at Westgate Mall. Their twitter account was shut down on Saturday, September 21. But what really makes any decent human want to vomit is that Al Shabab immediately opened up a new twitter account and continued their gloating spree about their Westgate terror attacks.
How difficult can it possibly be for governments and social media entities to prevent well known terrorists organisations from using twitter, or any other social medium for that matter, to promote terrorism? We urge all African governments through the African Union to extend their fight against Al Shabab from the physical fire fights to shutting down their activities in cyber-space.