Regardless of what you think about the accused, their indictment should serve as a telling warning to everyone, namely:
Be careful of what you post on Facebook.
British residents, lest you think you’re off the hook, I remind you of the conviction of Azhar Ahmed this past September for sending a grossly offensive communication... namely posting a status update on his Facebook saying that all soldiers should die and go to hell. He was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and a £300 fine. The four men indicted in California, conversely, face up to fifteen years in prison. Of course, the evidence in their indictment isn’t constituted solely by their Facebook activity, but it’s obvious that their status updates, “likes” and “shares” have been methodically and meticulously detailed by the FBI.
Consider the following extract from the indictment:
DEFENDANTS’ SOCIAL MEDIA
26. I have reviewed several of the social media web sites for KABIR, SANTANA, DELEON, each of whom has posted radical prom jihad content on their respective pages. Additionally, portions of the social media show that DELEON and SANTANA "liked" postings on KABIR's Facebook page as early as May 2011.
27. Public items posted by KABIR to his social media accounts include photographs of himself, non-extremist content, radical Islamist content, and items reflecting a mistrust of mainstream media, abuses by the government, conspiracy theories, abuses by law enforcement, and the war in Afghanistan. KABIR's radical postings include videos and links to videos of Al-Qa'ida leader Anwar Al-Awlagi and his lectures, jihad--based videos regarding Afghanistan and elsewhere, videos depicting mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan and elsewhere, videos depicting terrorist training camps and related activities, videos depicting improvised explosive device attacks, and articles regarding the death of American soldiers in Afghanistan. For example, on July 6, 2012, KABIR shared a video to his public Facebook page entitled "Knights of Khorasan Islamic Emirate Operation Against an Army Base in Margha." This video, which I have reviewed, depicts a suicide bombing operation against a large base wherein the suicide- bomber drives an explosives-laden truck into a base and detonates it. The video bears the symbol of As-Sahab, Al-- Qa'ida's media wing, in the lower right corner.
28. KABIR has "shared" several postings with SANTANA and/or DELEON, both of whom have "liked" or commented on several other postings by KABIR, including the following:
a. On December 7, 2011, KABIR posted a video entitled "Black Flags of Khorasan: Part 2" that he later "shared" with DELEON.- (Based on my training and experience, conversations with other agents, and research of publicly available information, the black flag or banner refers to a traditional flag flown by Muhammad and later by Islamic military leaders. More recently, several jihadi groups and terrorists have adopted the black flag as a symbol for jihad and mujahideen fighters.)
b. On or about January 5, 2012, KABIR shared a link regarding negotiating with the Taliban. SANTANA "liked" the post and SANTANA and KABIR engaged in a public exchange of comments. SANTANA said, "they messed up know?" KABIR followed SANTANA's comment with a comment that appeared to include excerpts of a "Statement of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," which discussed the Taliban's desire to expel the United States from, and establish their own government in, Afghanistan. SANTANA replied to KABIR's comment by writing "Oh yea!!!!"
c. On January 5, 2012, KABIR posted a photo on his Facebook page depicting a veiled and covered woman leaning on an assault rifle. DELEON and KABIR exchanged comments on the photo wherein DELEON said "...hey bro are coming back? whats goin on? how long gona stay there?" KABIR replied "Naa.. not comin back... movin 4wd.... =D.... 1/2 way 2 my destination.. =D." (Based on the context of this statement, including the fact that KABIR was then in Germany, I believe that KABIR intended to inform DELEON that he had commenced his journey to Afghanistan.)
d. On January 19, 2012, DELEON "liked" a shared link posted on KABIR's page of a video entitled "Dua of Sheikh Muhammad al Mohaisany masjid al haram makkah." The video, which I have reviewed as posted on KABIR's page, appears to be a prayer for the success of the mujahideen and features various photos including Al--Qa'ida leaders Usama Bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, 9/11 attacks, bloodied adults and children, and Islamic fighters. The video also calls for the liberation of Al-Aqsa, the mosque referenced in the 1998 Al-Qa'ida fatwa described above.
e. On February 13, 2012, SANTANA "liked" two shared video links on KABIR's page, including one for a video entitled "Imam Anwar al Awlaki -- A Story of Courage."
f. f. On May 28, 2012, KABIR posted two stories regarding the death of Al-Qa'ida leader Usama Bin Laden. DELEON "liked" both stories; SANTANA "liked" one.
g. On June 16, 2012, SANTANA "liked" a video, produced by Al--Qa'ida's media wing, As-Sahab, shared by KABIR to his Facebook page entitled "Ghuraba." This video, which I have reviewed, appears to depict life as a mujahideen fighter and includes several interviews. The video also features mujahideen fighters firing artillery.
h. On July 5, 2012, KABIR posted a photo featuring Al-Qa'ida leader Anwar Al-Awlaqi which contained a quote from Al-Awlaqi. DELEON "liked" and "shared" the photo.
i. On September 16, 2012, DELEON "liked" KABIR's shared link to a video entitled "The Truth Has Come and Falsehood has perished Part 1 Urdu." This video, which I have reviewed, is a production by As-Sahab and begins with footage of Al-Awlaqi and discusses the war in Afghanistan. The video also features current Al-Qa'ida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
29. On September 17, 2012 SANTANA "liked" KABIR's post of an article entitled "A Public Talk by Ustadz Abu M Jibriel AR: The Truth of The 9/11 Jihad Operation, The Plots Of The Enemies and The Zionist Conspiracy."
I have certainly scrolled through my newsfeed and seen videos or images posted by a Facebook friend that a police or intelligence officer might deem “suspicious”. And while self-censorship isn’t exactly fun, I think we have bigger fish to fry than defending our right to post whatever Facebook status update, “share” or “like” we choose.
So the next time you go to post something on your Facebook, or “share” or “like” something a friend has posted.... stop. Would you happily walk into a police station with that video, image or quotation in hand, along with your full name, a cache of rich autobiographical details (such as your place of work, previous trips, home address, etc) and a comprehensive list of your friends? If not, then it’s probably best to refrain.
This article, however, is definitely worth posting, sharing, and you better “like” it, too.