Photo-sharing app Instagram populated by terrorist pics, report says

Statigram screenshot /
March 20, 2013

Instagram is no longer just for hipsters. Another cohort has adopted the trendy photo-sharing service: terrorists.

The social media app has experienced a "tremendous increase of its use by online jihadis" who have littered Instagram with radical propaganda depicting dead "martyrs" and armed terrorist combatants, according to a recent report issued by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a nonpartisan research organization.

Instagram, which has some 90 million monthly users, is the latest social network to be coopted by Arab extremists who are looking to broadcast their radical ideology across the globe, according to MEMRI.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks have been forced to address the issue in recent months. Anti-Semitic terrorist manifestos have also been spotted in online marketplaces affiliated with Apple and Google.

The photos glorify terrorist masterminds such as Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki as well as a slew of lesser-known al Qaeda leaders who have been "martyred" while fighting against the United States and Israel.

Other photo sets include graphic pictures of dead jihadi fighters with captions that read, "The perfect smile!" and "Sins forgiven by the first drop of blood," according to MEMRI’s investigative report.

One user posting on the Instagram client Statigram posted a picture of someone supposedly murdered by jihadi fighters in Somalia. The caption reads: "Dirty French Kaffir killed by the Mujahideen in Somali."

MEMRI notes that the presence of such propaganda has increased significantly over the past four months.

"Since MEMRI first began monitoring the site four months ago, there has been a tremendous increase of its use by online jihadis," the report states. "A common theme of the photos that they post is images of and quotes by al Qaeda leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Anwar Al-Awlaki, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and many others."

"Another theme is the glorification of imprisoned jihadis: The Blind Sheikh Omar Abd Al-Rahman, Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and many others who have successfully attacked Americans," MEMRI reports.

It is unclear if these types of images directly violate Instagram’s guidelines, though the images of dead bodies could fall under the category of "extreme violence or gore."

"If we find you sharing prohibited or illegal content, including photographs of extreme violence or gore, your account may be disabled, and we will take appropriate action, which may include reporting you to the authorities," according to Instagram’s community guidelines.

Users are also encouraged to report offensive materials, though it is unclear if accounts disseminating jihadi propaganda have received complaints. Instagram did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment about MEMRI’s report.

Some of the more violent images depict camouflaged fighters holding guns to the heads of their victims. Other accounts have posted pictures of armed children.