The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
Jihadis have long exploited social media to spread their radical ideology; jihadi media operatives understood early on that social media was a potent instrument in creating an open flow of jihadi ideology accessible in real time by a younger generation of tech savvy aspirants. Indeed, as Ambassador R. James Woolsey noted in a June 2020 MEMRI Cyber Jihad Lab report: "One can hardly imagine the development of the global jihad movement to its present proportions without the internet – and at the heart of the jihadi organizations' strategy are U.S. social media companies."
Today, despite content moderation efforts by social media platforms, jihadi clerics remain pervasive on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram. These clerics – including ones based in the West – often employ crafty tactics to evade account suspensions over their propagation of violent rhetoric and, sometimes, open calls for attacks against non-Muslims. Some even describe their attempts at evading content moderation as a "common game of cat and mouse."
One such cleric is Wissam Haddad, aka Abu Ousayd – a prominent Salafi-jihadi preacher based in West Sydney, Australia, who for over a decade has propagated radical Islam and expressed support for terrorist groups – including the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda – both in-person and online.
Haddad describes himself as a "Sydney-based speaker in the field of Da'wah (preaching) since 2002," who established the "very first Musallah [prayer hall] in Reversby, [Australia]" and has been a "strong voice for the many voiceless Muslim prisoners in Australia and a pioneer in activism against injustice."
Between 2012-2014, Haddad owned and operated the Al-Risalah Islamic Center in Sydney's Bankstown Area, which – according to a June 2013 MEMRI JTTM report – disseminated Salafi-jihadi materials, hosted known terrorists as lecturers, and maintained "ideological, if not organizational, ties with Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist U.K.-based Islamic group [...] that was banned in the U.K. in 2010." Haddad closed the center in September 2014 after media reports about its activities sparked public outrage.
Haddad also has longstanding ties to known operatives of both ISIS and Al-Qaeda; an August 2020 report by MEMRI JTTM identified Haddad as a "central figure in the Salafi-jihadi network in West Sydney and throughout Australia," documenting his connections to Mostafa Mahamed, Junaid Thorne, Mohamed Elomar, Khaled Sarrouf, Radwan Dakkak, and others.
In 2015, a police raid on Haddad's home resulted in the seizure of weapons, an Islamic State flag, a machete, and a large number of extremist DVDs and terror-related newspaper clippings, although he ultimately avoided a prison sentence.
Despite public scrutiny and encounters with law enforcement, Haddad remains active in preaching online and in the Muslim Community of West Sydney via the Al-Madina Dawah Center (AMC), a permutation of the closed Al-Risalah Islamic Center that opened in 2019 and whose "About Us" section on its website – until recently – included an admission of open hatred against "all those who oppose Allah."
Haddad also currently maintains an active account on Instagram – @abu.ousayd – which boasts more than 3,000 followers and has published 442 posts to date, most of which promote Salafi-jihadism, undermine democracy and liberalism, and, at times, appear to call for violent action against non-Muslims.
The following report provides a content analysis of Haddad's Instagram posts, documenting his attempts to incite violence on the platform, as well as his support for violent jihad and tenets of Salafi-jihadism.
Incitement to Violence
Haddad Prays For Allah To "Disfigure" Face Of Australian Comedian
On March 5, 2023, Haddad published a post on Instagram calling on Muslims to "get up and defend the honor" of the Prophet Muhammad after Australian comedian Isaac Butterfield made jokes perceived to be insulting to the Prophet. Haddad also tagged Butterfield's Instagram account in the post and openly threatened him, praying that Allah would "disfigure" his face and "paralyze" the comedian's tongue.
Haddad wrote: "GET UP AND DEFEND THE HONOUR OF OUR PROPHET MOHAMMED (SAW) Message to 'Isaac Butterfield' congratulations you have entered into a realm that you're going to wish you never did. No one before you who slandered, mocked, and insulted the Prophet Muhammad (may my parents be sacrificed for his sake) was left before Allah (swt) made an example of him....There is always a red line. You definitely crossed it. May Allah (swt) disfigure your face and paralyze your tongue. Ameen."
Referring To Islam As A Religion Of Peace Is "Trying To Appease The West"
On September 23, 2022, Haddad published a post linking to his YouTube sermon titled "How Muslims Must React to Hindutva Thugs in Leicester [England]." In the post's caption, Haddad railed against Islam being a "religion of peace," noting that "We wouldn't have been Muslim if the Sahaabah [companions of the Prophet] didn't fight against the disbelievers who tried to harm them." He went on to state that "it's an obligation upon Muslims to defend their community and rewarding to do so."
Haddad: "Insulting The Messenger Of Allah Will Awaken Every Lion From The East And The West"
On June 6, 2022, Haddad published two posters urging Muslims to defend the Prophet Muhammad after officials from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party made remarks about the Prophet and his wife Aisha that were considered offensive.
The first poster read: "We must defend rasullah [the Prophet of Allah]. Muslims should never ever let an insult against the Messenger Muhammad slide. We must come out openly and defend him. The kuffar [unbelievers] should know the ummah [global Muslim community] may look asleep, but we are not dead, and insulting the messenger of Allah will awaken every lion from the east and the west."
The second poster – which depicted a roaring lion – read: "It's better to have five lions than 100 sheep." In the post's caption, Haddad reiterated his position that "Muslims should never ever let an insult against the messenger Muhammad slide."
Support for Violent Jihad
Haddad: "The Sword Is The Only Way To Deal With [Those Who Reject The Way Of Allah]"
On October 3, 2022, Haddad published a video derived from his Khutbah lecture series "In Pursuit of Allah's Pleasure," in which he advocated for violent jihad as the "only means of change" when faced with those "who reject the way of Allah."
Describing those "who reject the way of Allah" as those who "use their power and influence to prevent people from receiving it [preaching] and force them to comply with their own laws," Haddad declared:
"The sword is the only way to deal with such people and jihad serves as the only means of change in this regard [...] the only way left open with this category of people is to rally the troops and will the sword."
Muslims Who Don't Advocate For Jihad Are "Hypocrites," Haddad Says
On August 28, 2022, Haddad published a video which featured an audio excerpt from one of his sermons, titled "Pinnacle of Deen [religion]." In it, Haddad reiterated that jihad is obligatory for Muslims and those who deny its obligation are "hypocrites" and "cowards."
He said: "Today when we hear the word jihad, whether it be in the hearts of disbelievers – they are angered, they are enraged, and they are filled with hate and fear, and they're also filled with terror. And also when the word jihad is spoken even amongst some Muslims, they are filled with fear, fear that they would come under scrutiny, come under pressure from these disbelievers or from the hypocrites themselves. And even the hypocrites themselves when they hear the word jihad, they deep down hate it because jihad is something which exposes the real from the fake. It is better for a person to say that jihad is fard [a religious obligation], that jihad exists, and to say that he is a coward rather [than] to make changes to the deen of Allah sabhanahu wa ta'alla [glorious and exalted is He] and removing one of its very, very high aspects."
Haddad: Leave Your Homes, Families To Wage Jihad
In a December 31, 2021, in a video from his "In Pursuit of Allah's Pleasure" lecture series, Haddad implicitly called on Muslims to leave their homes and families to wage jihad.
The video, which was titled "[Jihad] in the path of Allah," notably depicted a fighter carrying a rifle. In it, Haddad contrasted the willingness of the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet Muhammad) to wage jihad with the alleged reluctance of today's Muslim to do so.
He said: "Today we cry if someone tells us to go to jihad. I don't want to leave my bed, I don't want to leave the car I've been working to try to pay off, I don't want to leave my house, I don't want to leave my family, I don't want to be hurt in the path of Allah sabhanahu wa ta'alla, yet the Sahaba would leave it all for the sake of Allah sabhanahu wa ta'alla and even when they couldn't, they were so sad. They would cry, they would cry to Allah sabhanahu wa ta'alla – this is how sincere they were because they knew its greatness."
Support For Tenets Of Salafi-Jihadism
By his own admission, Haddad is an adherent of Salafi jihadism. In an Instagram post on November 19, 2022, Haddad commented on social media influencer Andrew Tate's high-profile conversion to Islam, inviting him "for a discussion."
Haddad wrote: "I wasn't going to comment and join the clout bandwagon but now I need too, because the hypocrisy is way too much [...] Tate has said things like, the west should implement shari'ah [Islamic law] as Christianity has failed, shari'ah is the only way for humanity, their systems [democracy] have failed, Muslims are warriors, warrior religion, woman have their place, says Muslims are against leaders and so on and so on [...] Andrew Tate just became an overnight Salafi Jihadi, who understands kufr bit Taghout [the rejection of tyrant or false deities], wala wal bara [loyalty to Muslims and enmity to non-Muslims] and Tawheed al Hakimiyyah [Allah alone can legislate] more than many Muslims today, and even more than his many interviewers from the Muslim community. If this isn't clout chasing, I don't know what is. Someone get this Msg to Brother Andrew Tate, would love to have a conversation with him as he seems to be on the same manhaj [methodology]."
In describing Andrew Tate as an "overnight Salafi Jihadi" who "seems to be on the same manhaj" as himself, Haddad seemingly implied that he is also a Salafi Jihadi – despite the lengths to which he has previously gone to obscure his ideological worldview.
Commitment to the Principle of Al-Wala Wal-Bara
On December 13, 2022, Haddad published a poster about Al-wala wal-Bara (literally "loyalty and disavowal") – a principle, which is described as love and loyalty towards Muslims versus a deep and lasting hostility towards non-Muslims. The principle occupies a central place in modern Salafi-jihadi discourse.
The poster's text noted that Muslims do not bend to kufr (unbelievers), shaitan (Satan), or taghout (tyrants). Rather, it said, "We [Muslims] have the deen of Allah and we will not water it down or bend it for anyone."
Haddad: "We Hate The Disbeliever"
On November 9, 2022, Haddad published an audio excerpt from a sermon in which he preached about the tenet of Al-wala wal-Bara.
"This is something very important to understand," Haddad said, "that – yes – part of Islam and part of Al-wala wal-Bara – loving and hating, or loyalty and enmity for the sake of Allah sabhanahu wa ta'alla – is that we hate the disbeliever, and we hate his belief."
Haddad: "Yes, Allah Hates"
On October 25, 2022, Haddad published an excerpt from a sermon in which he addressed how Islam "can hate."
In the sermon, Haddad said: "Sometimes people say: how can your religion hate? Even Muslims, they say: how can you speak about hate, Allah hates something? Yes – Allah sabhanahu wa ta'alla hates many things, and he's told us [...] so who are we to deny this?"
 See MEMRI CJL report "From Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State (ISIS), Jihadi Groups Engage In Cyber Jihad," December 14, 2016.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, February 1, 2022.
 See MEMRI JTTM report Islamic Bookstore And Center In Australia Spreads Extremist Islam, Sympathizes With Global Jihad, Opposes Integration And Democracy, June 3, 2013.
 See MEMRI JTTM report Network Of Jihad Supporters In Sydney, Australia Region With Ties To ISIS And Al-Qaeda Continues Preaching And Recruitment – Online And On The Ground, August 4, 2020.
 Rairfoundation.com/threat-alert-australia-is-allowing-muslim-preacher-wissam-abu-ousayd-haddad-to-build-an-islamic-army, accessed on April 26, 2023.
 Instagram, thebuttsmarn.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, March 5, 2023.
 Instragram, abu.ousayd, September 23, 2022.
 Aljazeera.com/news/2022/6/17/us-slams-offensive-comments-on-prophet-by-bjp-members-in-india, accessed on April 25, 2023.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, June 6, 2022.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, June 6, 2022.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, October 3, 2022.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, August 28, 2022.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, December 31, 2021.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, November 19, 2022.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, December 13, 2022.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, November 9, 2022.
 Instagram, abu.ousayd, October 25, 2022.