Why Did Dzokhar Tsarnaev Follow @Ghuraba on Twitter?

Who is Twitter user Ghuraba?

Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who goes by the Twitter account @j_tsar, followed fewer than 100 people on Twitter.

While most of these users were celebrities, one of the most recent accounts he followed is one called @Al_FirdausiA, who goes by the name “Ghuraba.” In fact, Tsarnaev was the first to follow that account, which in the Twitter world usually signals a strong personal connection. Both users followed one another meaning that direct messages are possible. Moreover, the very first follower of Ghuraba appears to be Tsarnaev’s account, an oddity which suggests that Tsarnaev may have set up the account as a “sock puppet.” Ghuraba created his account on March 11, 2013, just over a month before the bombings.

Ghuraba, meaning “Strangers,” is an account with the handle, “Al_firdausiA,” which translated from the Arabic is “the highest level of Paradise, Allah willing,” also known as martyrdom or being a shahid. While the Ghuraba mention may mean “strangers” in a geopolitical sense—the Tsarnaev brothers moved around, for instance—it is a common phrase used by those who come to convert to Islam or come more into the truth of Islam, i.e. being radicalized.

Ghuraba has tweeted only eight times and is followed by nine followers, including the account of Dzokhar Tsarnaev (“Jahar”), along with other Islamist tweeters. Only two of these nine followers appear to be people—Tsarnaev and Qasim Kahloon, to whom we’ll turn to in a moment.

Given our research on him on Twitter, we conclude that Ghuraba must be in the West.

On March 10, Ghuraba also praised terrorist and Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who Ghuraba recommends to his followers, saying that whoever listen to Awlaki will “gain an unbelievable amount of knowledge.”

 

Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric and spiritual advisor to al Qaeda, was killed by a drone strike in September. On March 13, 2013, Tsarnaev retweeted one of Ghuraba’s messages.

 

“It’s our responsibility my brothers & sisters to ask Allah to ease the hardships of the oppressed and give us victory over kufr #islam #dua.” (Kufr, or kafir, are the unbelievers. Dua is an act to force them to believe.)

The only other discernible person is “Soldier of Allah” or “@QasimKahloon.” Soldier of Allah is the name that many Islamic radicals use, including the Ft. Hood terrorist, Major Nidal Hasan. Kahloon has many, many photos that are pro-jihadi, including some praising Anwar al-Awlaki.