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Legal Group Tweets Twitter: Stop Aiding Terrorists, or Get Sued

Twitter has been 'aiding and abetting' Hizbullah and other terrorists, an Israeli legal rights group says -and it had better stop right now.
By David Lev
First Publish: 12/29/2011, 3:33 PM

Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner
Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner
Yoni Kempinski

The Israel Law Center (Shurat Hadin) has a “social media” message for Twitter: Stop providing communication facilities for terror groups like Hizbullah, or face a lawsuit on behalf of American citizens and others who have been victims of terrorism.

In a letter to Twitter executives, Israel Law Center head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner warned the social media messaging service that allowing terror groups to maintain accounts on the system is illegal.”Please be advised that providing social media and other associated services to terrorist groups is illegal and will expose Twitter, Inc. and its officers to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to American citizens and others victimized by terrorism,” the letter said, naming specifically three groups - Hizbullah, Al-Shaba'ab, and Al-Manar TV. All three are officially classified as terror groups. Al-Shaba'ab has 6,720 Twitter followers, and Al-Manar has 7,000.

All three of these entities – as well as individuals associated with them - have Twitter accounts, and Darshan-Leitner suggested in the letter than Twitter cancel the accounts, or face the wrath of the law.

Darshan-Leitner stressed in her letter that the issue was not censorship, but compliance with security laws, which Twitter, as a U.S.-based entity, was obligated to undertake. Referring to a recent case brought by the government against an organization that was accused of materially helping two organizations classified as terror groups (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “providing any assistance or support to terrorists is unlawful.

“Your provision of social media and associated services to Hizbullah and other FTOs (foreign terrorist organizations) would constitute the type of seemingly innocuous material support that would render your company and you personally criminally and civilly liable. This includes liability for future terrorist attacks carried out by Hizbullah, Al-Shaba'ab or other FTOs,” Darshan-Leitner told Twitter. In fact, she adds, a New York businessman, Javed Iqbal, was in 2009 sentenced to five and a half years in prison for providing satellite broadcast servers to Al-Manar, Hizbullah's media outlet.

Besides violating U.S. anti-terrorism laws, Twitter will also find itself a target of multi-million dollar lawsuits if it does not cancel the accounts, Darshan-Leitner says. “Many U.S. entities and individuals who have provided material support to terrorists have been sued by the terror victims and their families for aiding and abetting international terrorism,” she writes. “Many of these defendants now find themselves defending against multi-million dollar civil actions in federal courts around the United States. In addition, American corporations that provided material support to militant organizations in the Middle East are currently defendants in multi-million dollar civil actions in U.S. federal courts brought by the victims of these groups, and officers and principals of such corporations have also become defendants,” Darshan-Leitner adds, citing numerous cases.

The Israel Law Center is no stranger to such lawsuits, having brought – and won – numerous decisions against organizations in the U.S. and abroad that have either consciously – or inadvertently – aided and abetted terrorism. In a recent incident, Darshan-Leitner warned about 150 heads of American universities that they had better do something to stop the anti-Semitic incidents that have been growing at their schools in recent years, or face lawsuits.

“In light of the above,” Darshan-Leitner concludes in her letter to Twitter, “we request that you immediately provide us written confirmation that Twitter, Inc. has permanently discontinued the provision of social media and associated services to Hizbullah, Al-Manar TV, Al-Shabaab and any other FTOs.

“Absent such confirmation,” she concludes, “we will seek all available relief and remedies against Twitter, Inc. in all relevant jurisdictions.”