It sounds as if Facebook might have to do some hard thinking about its new “Legacy” feature, whose first high-profile user was Copenhagen terrorist Omar El-Hussein.
Mediaite explains how El-Hussein used Facebook to send ISIS a Valentine from hell:
Days before he went on a shooting spree in Copenhagen that left two dead and many wounded, Omar El-Hussein took advantage of Facebook’s new “Legacy” feature and created his own memorial page, essentially leveraging Facebook and turning it into a potential shrine for terrorist martyrs.
The “Legacy” feature was announced last week and basically works like this: when you die, you can let a friend or relative inherit your account and turn it into a “digital gravestone,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “Legacy contacts can write a post to display at the top of their friend’s memorialized profile page, change the friend’s profile picture, and even respond to new friend requests on behalf of the deceased,” they write, but add that “They can’t edit what the deceased has already posted, or what his or her friends post on the page.”
What did El-Hussein do with his Facebook page? Well, there’s a picture of a dog in the banner, but that’s about the only thing on it that is not objectively evil. For the rest, Mediaite directs us to the UK Daily Mail, which runs through the jihadi’s ties to a prison gang — he spent time in jail for stabbing another young man in an “unprovoked attack” in 2013, an enigmatic crime that no one in global media seems interested in investigating further — and brief kickboxing career before getting into his social media activities.
In addition to the dog, the Daily Mail notes that El-Hussein posted a video titled “Sword of Jihad” shortly before conducting his attack. In addition, he left a message stating: “I swear allegiance to Abu Bakr and will obey him in adversity and prosperity, and will not go against the orders I get assigned, unless I witness blatant disbelief,” in reference to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
He also lists his employer as “Murder, Inc,” though no evidence indicates this is a reference to the New York mafia outfit.
The problem is that Facebook “quickly deleted the page in accordance with their policy of deleting terrorist-related accounts,” as Mediaite relates, but the Legacy system means the designated inheritors of the page still have copies of it and could resurrect it at any time.
Not that El-Hussein is lacking for temporal shrines, in addition to his online memorial. The street corner where he died after attacking the Copehagen free-speech conference and a synagogue ended up buried under flowers from his admirers. “He was a good guy, we don’t believe he did anything wrong,” one of them told the National Post of Canada, while another argued that the crime which put him in prison was no big deal, because “when we fight, we stab, but always in the leg, not to kill,” adding that he had personally “stabbed ten or eleven people” to establish his bona fides.
According to the National Post, “A group of Muslim youths concerned that the tributes would create a misleading impression that the suspected gunman had the support of his community, removed the flowers and the sign after a few hours.” Let’s hope the ISIS fanboy’s Facebook page is cleared away with similar alacrity, should it make a return from the Facebook Legacy vault. Meanwhile, we can meditate on the dangers of an international jihad that has become highly adept at using the tools of social media to propagate its ideology, while the American government and many of its European allies work furiously to pretend it doesn’t exist.