Al-Qaida’s North African arm, which has been battered by a French-led military campaign in Mali, is trying to fight back — on Twitter.
The PR campaign by the terror network seeks to tap into social grievances and champion mainstream causes such as unemployment, all in a bid to reverse its decline and win new followers.
The hearts-and-minds approach echoes an outreach program the group had been trying for years in Mali, where it provided food, services and cash to win over the locals.
This new campaign is more ambitious: It aims to allow al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, to move the fight at least partly off the battlefield. The group is trying to appeal to widespread concerns, such as the repression and a sense of injustice that galvanized the Arab Spring revolts.