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March 13, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8631

Should Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Be Allowed To Tweet Jihad And Martyrdom, Call For Attacks On U.S. To His One Million Followers On Twitter – As IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani Did?

March 13, 2020
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 8631

Introduction

Iran, the leading designated state sponsor of terrorism, along with its top regime officials – political, religious, and military – continue to freely use Twitter, despite the removal of some of them from other social media platforms. The regime's use of Western social media is all the more notable since it does not accord the same freedom of expression to Iranian citizens; for example, Internet access is often blocked during times of unrest. Additionally, the regime has for years been working to implement a national intranet for limiting Iranians' access to regime-approved content, and has also launched social media apps for the public to use instead of the Western ones to which it objects.[1] 

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei maintains very active official Twitter accounts in English,[2] French,[3] Spanish,[4] Farsi,[5] Russian,[6] and Arabic[7] that together have over one million followers. Khamenei's tweets consistently express hostility to the U.S., France, Germany, and the UK, including incitement and calls for attacks against them. With the global platform granted him by Twitter, he circulates misinformation and threats, and calls his followers to jihad and martyrdom.[8]

In addition to Khamenei, the Twitter account of IRGC Qods Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist and killed in a U.S. drone strike on January 3, 2020, remains active, sharing content about him and his ideology. At the time of this writing, it had over 139,000 followers.[9] He previously had an Instagram account, which was removed by Instagram in 2019.[10]

In early February 2020, a group of Republican senators sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking the platform to suspend Khamenei's account as well as the account of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, to comply with U.S. sanction law. The letter stated that an executive order from the summer of 2019 imposing sanctions on Khamenei and on those acting on his behalf prohibits Twitter from providing services to the two Iranian officials.[11]

The following report features some of Khamenei's English-language Twitter activity since Soleimani's killing, including his calls for violence against the U.S. The report also shows Soleimani's inciting Twitter activity and its posthumous continuation.


Khamenei's English-language Twitter account.


Khamenei's Twitter accounts in Russian, French, Farsi, and Arabic.

Khamenei On Twitter Following Soleimani's Killing

In response to the January 3, 2020 killing of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani by the U.S., Khamenei took to Twitter to threaten vengeance against the U.S. and extol Soleimani as a martyr.

"A #SevereRevenge Awaits The Criminals" – The U.S. – "Who Have Stained Their Hands With His & The Other Martyrs' Blood"

On January 3, Khamenei announced Soleimani's killing in a series of tweets. He began: "Dear Iranian Nation! Years of sincere, brave efforts fighting against devils & villainous in the world & yrs of wishing for martyrdom on the path of God finally took the dear Commander of Islam, Soleimani, to this lofty status. His blood was shed by the most barbaric of men."

Khamenei continued: "We congratulate Imam Mahdi ('a.j.) & Soleimani's pure soul & condole the Iranian nation on this great martyrdom. He was an eminent example of a person trained in Islam. He spent all his life in struggling for God. Martyrdom was the reward for his tireless efforts over the years."

The next tweet read: "His efforts & path won't be stopped by his martyrdom. By God's Power, rather a #SevereRevenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands with his & the other martyrs' blood last night. Martyr Soleimani is an Intl figure of Resistance & all such people will seek revenge."

Khamenei then promised continued jihad: "All friends – & enemies – know that Jihad of Resistance will continue with more motivation & definite victory awaits the fighters on this blessed path. The loss of our dear General is bitter. The continuing fight & ultimate victory will be more bitter for the murderers & criminals."

Later that day, Khamenei tweeted that Brig.-Gen. Esmail Qa'ani was appointed as Soleimani's replacement.

"The Loss Of Our Dear General Soleimani Is Bitter; The Continuing Fight And Ultimate Victory Will Be More Bitter For The Murderers And Criminals."

On January 4, Khamenei tweeted: "Hajj Qasem Soleimani had been exposed to martyrdom repeatedly, but in performing his duty & fighting for the cause of God, he didn't fear anyone or anything. He was martyred by the most villainous people, the US govt, & their pride in this crime is a distinguishing feature of him." The tweet included images from Khamenei's meeting with Soleimani's family.

On January 5, Khamenei tweeted: "The loss of our dear General Soleimani is bitter. The continuing fight and ultimate victory will be more bitter for the murderers and criminals." This tweet included a video of Khamenei awarding Soleimani with the Order of Zolfaqar in March 2019.[12] In the video, Khamenei says: "The Almighty God states, 'Indeed Allah has purchased from the believers their selves and possessions, and for them is Paradise' [Quran 9:111.] What is given in exchange for fighting for the cause of Allah and offering one's life fearlessly is Paradise. Thanks be to God, The Almighty God has also bestowed success upon our very dear brother Mr. Soleimani to him who many, many, many times exposed his life to the risk of the enemy's attacks for God's sake and for the cause of God. I ask Allah, the Exalted, to bestow His blessings on him, His bounties, happiness in life, and martyrdom at the end of his life."

The video footage from the ceremony is followed by the onscreen text: "Martyrdom was a reward for years of his implacable efforts. His efforts and path won't be stopped by his martyrdom, by God's Power, rather a Severe Revenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands with his and the other martyrs' blood last night. Martyr Soleimani is an international figure of Resistance and all such people will seek revenge for his blood. All friends - and enemies - know that Jihad of Resistance will continue with more motivation and definite victory awaits the fighters on this blessed path. 01/03/2020 Sayyid Ali Khamenei."

Following Iranian Drone Attack On U.S. Base: "The U.S. Has Caused War, Division, Sedition, Destruction..."

On January 8, Khamenei tweeted about Iran's retaliatory missile attack on the Al-Assad base in Iraq where U.S. military personnel are present, and promised further revenge on the U.S. He tweeted: "They were slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough. #AlAssadBase."

He then wrote: "The corruptive presence of the US in the region of West Asia must be stopped. #SevereRevenge."

"The US has caused war, division, sedition, destruction, and the demolition of infrastructures in this region. Of course they do this everywhere in the world. This region won't accept the US presence. Governments elected by nations won't accept the presence of the US."

On the need to remove U.S. forces from the region, Khamenei tweeted: "Our parliament's enactment yesterday was very good. The day before yesterday, the enactment by the Iraqi parliament on expelling the US was also very good. God willing, He will grant them success and assist them to finish this path successfully."

Continuing his inciting comments, he tweeted: "The lying, rambling US govt – whose words are worthless – tried to introduce this great Mujahid & Commander in the fight against terrorism as a terrorist. The Iranian nation slapped them in the face with their turn out in the millions for the funeral of General Soleimani."

Also on January 8, Khamenei retweeted his January 5 message sharing video of Soleimani's funeral. He wrote: "Enemies felt humbled by the magnificence of the Iranian nation's turnout for the funeral of Martyr Soleimani. They may not admit it, but they have no other option but to accept it."

Meeting With Qatari Emir: "The Region's Turbulent Situation Is Due To The Corruptive Presence Of The U.S. And Its Cohorts" – And "Demands Strengthening Of Relations Between Countries IN The Region... And Avoiding Influence Of Foreigners"

On January 12, Khamenei tweeted about his meeting that day with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani: "The reason for the current turbulent situation in our region is the corruptive presence of the U.S. and its cohorts. The only way to confront this is to depend on cooperation within the region."

He added: "Iran & Qatar's economic ties should grow, as their political ties have. Of course some, especially those in region from other side of the world, don't favor closer ties between region's countries. But this isn't their business & region will no longer accept domination & intrusion."

Later that day, Khamenei tweeted a link to an article on his official website describing his meeting with the Qatari emir, along with an image from the meeting and a quote from Khamenei: "The region's turbulent situation is due to the corruptive presence of the U.S. and its cohorts."[13]

Following Soleimani's Killing, Khamenei Gives His First Friday Sermon In Eight Years: "The Zionist News Empire Tried To Say The Honorable General Is A Terrorist!"; "When The IRGC's Missiles Demolished The U.S. Military Base In Iraq [It] Is... One Of Allah's Days"

On January 17, Khamenei made a series of tweets relating his Friday sermon, given that day. This was the first sermon led by Khamenei in eight years, a response to Soleimani's killing. Khamenei began by tweeting a link to a live video feed of the sermon:[14]

He continued in another tweet: "The day when the IRGC's missiles demolished the US military base in Iraq is also one of Allah's days. A nation having the spirit to slap a global, harassing, Arrogant Power in this way shows God's power and is one of Allah's Days."

The next tweet read: "The shameless US government was disgraced by calling Martyr Soleimani a terrorist when he was recognized by everyone as the most prominent & powerful commander in the fight against terrorism. Which other commander could do the great things he did?"

Khamenei continued: "The Zionist news empire tried to say the honorable General is a terrorist! The US's President & Secretary of State repeated this. God did the opposite of what they wanted. Not only in Iran, but in various countries, people saluted this Martyr & burnt the Zionist & US flags."

In his next tweet, he wrote: "The US govt killed Martyr Soleimani, not in the battlefield but thievishly & cowardly. This abased the US. Before that, such assassinations were the Zionist regime's specialty. Now, US president says he assassinated Soleimani. God smacks some people to make them confess."

Describing Iran's retaliatory attack on a U.S. base, he wrote: "The IRGC's powerful response in attacking a US military base was a blow to the US govt. It was an effective military strike. More important and greater than a military strike, it was a blow to the dignity and awe of the US as a superpower."

He continued: "For years, the US has been receiving blows from the #Resistance in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon & Afghanistan. But, bombing #alAssadbase was greater than these since it defied the prestige and awe of the US govt. They said they'll intensify sanctions. This can't win back their dignity."

"The Quds Force is an entity with lofty, human goals. The Quds Force looks everywhere & at everyone with tolerance. They are combatants without borders who go wherever they are needed to protect the dignity of the oppressed. They make sacrifices to protect sanctities."

Khamenei continued: "The combatants in the #QudsForce sacrifice their lives to assist the oppressed in the region. They help them to confront terrorism and Arrogance and push away the shadow of war, terror, and destruction from Iran and other countries."

The next tweet read: "Even when these govts negotiate, their negotiations are mixed with deception. The same people who appear at the negotiating table – the same so called 'gentlemen' behind the table – are the same terrorists of the Baghdad airport [where Soleimani was killed.] They just change clothes."

Threats Against The U.S., Antisemitism: "Today, the epitome of rebellion, arrogance and tyranny is the US government, which is controlled by the wealthy Zionist individuals"

Khamenei continues to tweet threats and accusations against the U.S. and against "Zionists." On February 18, he tweeted: "We are against the rule of oppression and arrogance. This is what we mean by 'America.' Today, the peak of arrogance is the US, which is controlled by the wealth Zionists & their corporate owners. The US is a manifestation of oppression. Thus, they're abhorred by the world."

In another tweet that day, Khamenei continued: "The US has tens of military bases in countries around our country. But, if something happens one day, these military bases won't have any use for them, nor for those poor countries who pay for them and have hopes in them."

Alleging that the U.S. is controlled by Israel, he tweeted on February 19: " We are not against the people of the US. What we are against is the rule of oppression, rebellion, and arrogance.

Today, the epitome of rebellion, arrogance and tyranny is the US government, which is controlled by the wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners."

Khamenei tweeted further threats against the U.S. the next day, comparing The U.S. to the Titanic, destined to sink. He wrote: "In the same way that the glory and splendor of the famous #Titanic ship did not prevent her from sinking, the apparent glory & splendor of the US won't prevent it from sinking. And, the US will sink."

Khamenei continued: "We are not against the people of the US. What we are against is the rule of oppression, rebellion and arrogance. Today, the epitome of rebellion, arrogance and tyranny is the US government, which is controlled by the wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners."

Qassem Soleimani On Twitter

The late IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani was designated a terrorist by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in October 2011, for his role in a plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir. He had already been designated, in May 2011, in connection with human rights abuses in Syria, and prior to had been designated in October 2007 for his links with the IRGC.[15]

A MEMRI report published August 16, 2018 exposed Soleimani's Instagram account. Following this exposure, and following the IRGC's designation in April 2019 as a terrorist organization, the Instagram account was shut down; at that time, it had over 61,000 followers. Instagram has also suspended accounts by Iranians expressing condolences.[16] Despite this, Soleimani's Twitter account remained active, as it does to this day under the new name "Ghasem Soleimany Ideology." It continues to tweet daily quotes, images, and videos relating to Soleimani. Advertisements for Subway were still promoted on Soleimani's account on February 19, 2020.

The following are examples of tweets from Soleimani's account.


Soleimani's Twitter Account, still active posthumously.

Twitter Prior To January 2, 2020

The following are some tweets in English by Soleimani prior to his killing in January 2020.


Soleimani's Twitter account in July 2019.

On August 26, 2019, following an Israeli airstrike on a Qods Force cell in Syria that was preparing an attack against Israel, Soleimani tweeted posters in Farsi, Arabic, and English. The posters stated: "These insane operations are absolutely last tries of the Zionist regime."

On November 2, 2018, in response to a Game of Thrones-themed poster tweeted by U.S. President Donald Trump announcing upcoming sanctions on Iran, Soleimani tweeted in response a Game of Thrones-themed poster stating "I will stand against you."[17]

On July 10, 2019, Soleimani tweeted: "The U.S. government inherently brings #insecurity. You can't find any region where they could have brought security by their force and presence."

On July 19, 2019, Soleimani tweeted: "Trump is preoccupied with other stuff. Main reason for US failure in our region today is lack of a wise leadership. Ignorant leaders are the main reason."

On September 14, 2019, after the attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Soleimani tweeted a video with Arabic subtitles featuring excerpts from two of his speeches. In the video, he stated: "We are the nation of martyrdom... Our victories in all fronts were guaranteed by adherence to Imam Hussein's culture... Today, Ansar Allah in Yemen are following the path of Imam Hussein and his household. Today, the [Iraqi] PMU is also getting inspiration and the power of resistance from this valuable position." The video concluded with an image of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem as viewed through a scope.[18]

Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV.

"Ghasem Soleimany Ideology" Twitter Account After Soleimani's Killing

As noted, since his killing, Soleimani's Twitter account has remained active under the name "Ghasem Soleimany Ideology." While Soleimani's past tweets remain available on the account, its more recent content focuses on glorifying his martyrdom. It should be noted that the number of followers of Soleimani's account have doubled since he was killed: In July 2019, it had 66,500 followers, and as of this writing it has 139,200 – doubling the impact of the incitement disseminated by the account. . The following are some examples of these tweets since his killing:

On January 3, the day Soleimani was killed, the account tweeted a poster circulated widely by Khamenei's office depicting Soleimani being received into heaven, apparently by the Imam Hussein himself. The original illustration was captioned: "The great general, filled with the glory of Islam, ascends to heaven."[19]

A January 7 tweet featured a poster with an image of Soleimani and the text "General Soleimany; I will stand against you" – reflecting his November 2018 tweet to President Trump. The tweet was hashtagged "#SevereRevenge."

On January 12, the account tweeted a political cartoon expressing rejection of negotiations, depicting a messenger being expelled from the presence of Khamenei and other figures. Placed before the leaders are the coffins of Iranian martyrs. The message to the Iranian regime in English on an unfurling scroll reads: "If you reconsider taking revenge, we will lift the sanction and war."

As of mid-February 2020, this account was active.

 

[2] Twitter.com/khamenei_ir, accessed February 6, 2020.

[3] Twitter.com/Khamenei_fra, accessed February 6, 2020.

[4] Twitter.com/es_Khamenei, accessed February 6, 2020.

[5] Twitter.com/Khamenei_fa, accessed February 6, 2020.

[6] Twitter.com/Khameneiru, accessed February 6, 2020.

[7] Twitter.com/ar_Khamenei, accessed February 6, 2020.

[9] Twitter.com/ghasemsoleimane, accessed February 6, 2020.

[11] Thehill.com/policy/technology/482061-republican-senators-call-on-twitter-to-suspend-irans-khamenei-zarif, February 7, 2020; view the letter at Rubio.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/cddb9c9a-a72f-4138-a7d0-07671acc51fc/2A9ACFF03D4FD4C00C04067987266530.2020.02.06---letter-to-jack-dorsey-twitter-ceo-on-iranian-official-use-of-platform.pdf.pdf.

[12] English.khamenei.ir/news/6518/Imam-Khamenei-s-statements-when-awarding-Major-General-Soleimani, March 11, 2019.

[13] English.khamenei.ir/news/7300/The-region-s-turbulent-situation-is-due-to-the-corruptive-presence, January 12, 2020.

[14] Twitter.com/PressTV/status/1218081770257567744, January 17, 2020

[15] Treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/pages/tg1320.aspx; Treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/pages/hp644.aspx.

[17] Twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1058388700617498625; Twitter.com/ghasemsoleimane/status/1058492769457586177, accessed February 6, 2020.

[19] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1495, The Iran-U.S. Crisis Following Soleimani's Killing – Analysis And Assessment: Part I, January 6, 2020.

 

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