Moustafa Ayad, ISD’s Executive Director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA), spoke to CNN about the social phenomenon behind “Letter for America,” a two-decade-old letter by Osama bin Laden that recently became a social media trend following the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“From a single video posted on November 14th, we began seeing a domino effect across social media platforms, and it was not just TikTok and it was not just ‘quote-unquote’ the generation that didn’t understand the significance of 9/11.”
“Instances and references to Letter to America jumped over 4,300% in just two days,” he said. “It was significant. 719 million impressions across platforms. It was not just one platform failing.”
Moustafa referenced ISD’s Dispatch to explain how bad state actors are “[…] looking to exploit sort of the divides that exist globally between Palestinian supporters and Israeli supporters and expand that divide in order to create more friction and animosity online.” He also cited ISD’s investigation revealing how neo-Nazi accelerationists are exploiting the conflict in an attempt to recruit and radicalise for their cause.
When asked about what we can do, as a society, to help young people navigate the information space around this conflict, he replied: “We really need to have honest conversations with young people about the context and what we are seeing online. Conflicts are incredibly hard to approach. […] The sort of charged nature of this conflict is incredibly difficult to cut through, but one to want honest conversation that provide people with information about this conflict and what we are seeing online are needed.”
The full interview is available on our YouTube channel.