Twitter said Friday it has permanently banned an account believed to be linked to the office of the country’s supreme leader after a posting that seemed to threaten former US President Donald Trump.
In the image posted by the suspect account late Thursday, Trump is shown playing golf in the shadow of a giant drone, with the caption “Revenge is certain” written in Farsi.
In response to a request for comment from The Associated Press, a Twitter spokesman said the account was fake and violated the company’s “manipulation and spam policy,” without elaborating how it came to that conclusion.
The tweet of the golfer-drone photo violated the company’s “abusive behavior policy,” Twitter’s spokesman added.
In Iran, the suspect account — @khamenei_site — is believed to be linked to the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei because its behavior has mirrored that of other accounts identified in state-run media as tied to his office. It frequently posted excerpts from his speeches and other official content.
In this case, the account carried a link to Khamenei’s website, where the same golf-drone photo had featured prominently. It was also retweeted by Khamenei’s main Farsi language account, @Khamenei-fa, which apparently deleted it after posting.
Other accounts tied to Khamenei’s office that did not tweet the golf-drone photo, including his main English language account, remained active.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) January 22, 2021
The post on the @khamenei_site Twitter account late Thursday warned there was no escape from payback for the US strike outside Baghdad airport which killed Iran’s foreign military operations chief General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant.
“Revenge is inevitable. Soleimani’s killer and the man who gave the orders must face vengeance,” it said.
“Revenge can take place at any moment.”
By Friday morning Twitter had suspended the account.
However, Khamenei’s office runs several accounts and the others were still working, including his main account, which he regularly uses to call for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Twitter has refused Israeli pleas to close such accounts and ban the Iranian leader’s genocidal comments, to no avail. Last year, a Twitter official told MKs those tweets did not breach its policy, since they were regarded as “saber-rattling.”
Trump left office on Wednesday and flew straight to his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida, without attending the inauguration of his successor US President Joe Biden.
Iranian officials have pledged repeatedly that Soleimani will be avenged.
Earlier this month, on the first anniversary of his killing, judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi warned that not even Trump was “immune from justice” and that Soleimani’s killers would “not be safe anywhere in the world.”
Soleimani was the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ powerful Quds Force, which has been designated a terrorist organization and accused of aiding Shiite forces that killed thousands of American troops in Iraq. He also backed Shiite terror groups like Hezbollah and forces fighting in Syria and Yemen.
Twitter’s move against Khamenei comes after it suspended Trump’s account following the storming of the US Capitol, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
The social platform had been under growing pressure to take further action against Trump following the January 6 deadly insurrection. Twitter initially suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours after he posted a video that repeated false claims about election fraud and praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol.
Following the banning of Trump’s account, pressure mounted on the social media company to also target others who incite violence.
Israel has long-called for Twitter to act against Khamenei’s accounts over their “anti-Semitic and genocidal” messages.
Even though some govts started a treacherous, contemptible move toward normalizing relations with the Zionists, they're too small to end the matter of #Palestine. No! Palestine will be free, while the fake Zionist regime will perish. There's no doubt about this.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 3, 2020
Strategic Affairs Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last year calling for the “immediate suspension” of Khamenei’s account “over his consistent posting of anti-Semitic and genocidal posts,” her ministry said in a statement.
“Examples of such include Khamenei calling for the ‘elimination’ of the ‘Zionist entity’ while asserting the ‘Zionist regime is a deadly, cancerous growth,’ which must ‘be uprooted and destroyed,’” the letter read.
Last May, he posted a graphic endorsing Israel’s destruction that invoked the term “final solution.”
The term “final solution” usually refers to the Nazi policy of extermination carried out against Jews during the Holocaust.
Last July, a Twitter official told MKs that the tweets in which Khamenei calls for Israel’s destruction do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy saber-rattling.”
“We have an approach toward leaders that says that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on military-economic issues are generally not in violation of our rules,” Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s head policy for the Nordic countries and Israel, told the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, via video-conference.
In the past, Israel has managed to have Twitter ban only Israelis from seeing tweets from terror groups, including Gaza rulers Hamas.
Iran is openly sworn to Israel’s destruction and financially supports terrorist groups, like Hezbollah and Hamas, which are committed to this aim.