Jennifer Williams, a self-described "blonde tattooed Texas girl," rose to fame in a number of undesirable circles last week after tweeting about her conversion to Islam.
The tweet brought her from just 60 Twitter followers to more than 4,300, she said, and "a healthy number" of her new followers "are Islamic extremists, including no small number of supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)."
"A lot of them live in Saudi Arabia," she wrote in a post for the Lawfare blog. "And some of them want to marry me."
What was the tweet that prompted such a positive reaction from the Islamic extremist world? Williams explained that the hashtag #MuslimApologies had grown popular on Twitter after some Muslims grew "tired of constantly being asked to apologize for the acts of a few vile individuals who twist Islam to justify their barbarism."
Williams' contribution to the hashtag was:
Sorry I read the Quran to learn abt terrorist beliefs but ended up converting to Islam b/c of what it said. #MuslimApologies #sorrynotsorry— Jenny from the Vox (@Jenny from the Vox)1411531245.0
"My tweet went viral — at last check, it had been retweeted more than 11,300 times — and I soon began to notice a disturbing trend: of the thousands of people who were retweeting and following me, many of them had the black flag of ISIS as their Twitter profile photos," she wrote. "Others had pictures of themselves holding swords, standing in front of the black ISIS flag. Uh-oh."
Williams admitted she sent out this tweet as her other one was going viral, and it likely didn't send the right impression:
N St. & Connecticut Ave. in D.C. It says Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar ISIS http://t.co/yg86wemgNU— Jenny from the Vox (@Jenny from the Vox)1411578743.0
She tweeted quickly thereafter that the message was in no way in support of the Islamic State. She said she was just alarmed to see Islamic State graffiti in the heart of Washington, D.C.:
JUST SO WE'RE CLEAR: The tweet w/the pic of ISIS graffiti WAS NOT MEANT TO EXPRESS MY SUPPORT OF ISIS. Can't believe I even have to say that— Jenny from the Vox (@Jenny from the Vox)1411584328.0
One Twitter user urged Williams to "resist the real terrorism and say #NoToAmerica," while another told her she would look beautiful in a hijab. A Saudi follower told her she was now "famous" in the Saudi kingdom, and a friend who works at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said her conversion story is being used "as propaganda by Salafis in Arabic-language social media circles."
In her piece at the Lawfare blog, Williams expressed shock that her tweet attracted so many extremists, writing: "I, for one, do not appreciate having my conversion story used to attract more people to a repugnant ideology that spawns suicide bombings and beheadings."
She added that she supports LGBT rights (and tweets her support, too), and loudly speaks out against the Islamic State, but all of that was seemingly ignored when the Islamists found a potential propaganda opportunity.
She suggested that, instead of spending all their time on Twitter, radical Islamists consider reading the Koran, saying it changed her life for the better and it might help them, too.
Read Williams' complete account of what happened at the Lawfare blog.