By Bernard Oginga
A twitter account that was used by Al Shabaab militia to claim responsibility for Saturday attack at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall has been suspended. The account which had a handle @HSM_Press was also used to issue further threats to the Kenyan government and public following the siege that left 39 people dead and more than 150 injured.
This was the third time twitter suspended an English account attributed to the Somalia based militia in incidences relating to Kenya.
In January 2013 another handle @HSMPress1 was suspended after the group used it to post a threat that they intended to kill Kenyan hostages that were in their possession for eighteen months. Two of the hostages a former District Officer and a Registration of Persons Clerk were released in August this year.
In September 2012 another handle @HSMPress was removed from the cyberspace after the militia used it to post what it claimed to be bodies of four Kenyan soldiers they claimed they had killed in a battle in the town of Afmadow, Somalia.
Al Shabaab started posting their messages in English on twitter late 2011 to counter Kenya Military Spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir’s (@MajorEChirChir) updates regarding Operation Linda Nchi that was launched in October that year to flash out the radical group from areas they were holding in Somalia and using to access Kenya.
In all their English twitter accounts the groups has been seen to maintain the initials HSM- in full Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahedeen which translates to Movement of the Striving Youth (the Al is not visible because in Arabic ‘Al’ which is similar to article ‘the’ in English is silent when it precedes some word).
Already there is another similar active account which was up immediately after Saturday’s suspension of @HSM_Press.