New ISIS Twitter campaign spurs hashtag war

The rise of #StevensHeadinObamasHands’s popularity prompted moderate users to utilize it along with new hashtags to fight back

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Twitter users, especially those supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, are using ISIS’ threat to slaughter U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff in a trending Twitter campaign targeting President Barack Obama, reported the Daily Mail on Tuesday.

#StevensHeadinObamasHands quickly topped Twitter’s trending topics, shortly after it started being shared on Twitter earlier this week.

In a graphic video featuring the beheading of another U.S. journalist, James Foley, Time magazine’s journalist Sotloff is seen wearing an orange jail jumpsuit while on his knees, as the executioner threatens to behead him as well.

“The life of this American citizen Obama depends on your next decision,” the masked executioner, who is currently being identified through computer generation, warned in spoken English.

A number of memes, tweets and pictures have been carried out on social media, in what was seen as an appeal to the West, directly targeting President Obama.

Extremist supporters carried out the hashtag through irrelevant tweets which include other trending topics such as #AskRicky, in reference to YouTube video blogger Ricky Dillon, and #FetusUANDay, another pop culture- related hashtag about the English-Irish boy band One Direction.

In response, other tweeps started using the same hashtag to fight back, leading to the rise of new hashtags such as #AMessageFromUStoISIS, in an allusion to the title of the gruesome video released last week - "A message to the America" – and used as #AMessageFromISIStoUS later on Twitter.

A large sum of engagement and discussions under hashtag #StevensHeadinObamasHands came from Saudi Arabia, where the king has denounced Islamist militants earlier this month, saying that it was “shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion.”

Most users from Saudi Arabia denounced terrorism, and quoted the king.

Sotloff was working as a freelance journalist when he was kidnapped in the Syrian city of Aleppo last August.

ISIS militants have seized control over large regions of Iraq and Syria and pledged to establish a “caliphate” which rules by harsh interpretations of the Sharia, or Islamic law.

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