The first time Twitter banned Mujahed Kobbe was last May.
The 31-year-old California-based business development manager was joking around with one of his friends on the platform — Washington Examiner executive editor Seth Mandel — when he joked, “Let’s have Hamas kill every Jew in their sleep, you know as a thought experiment.”
“It was a reply to Mandel as we were being sarcastic over Hamas,” Kobbe told TheWrap, explaining that they had been deriding an editorial in TRT World that justified Palestinian resistance to Israel. But Twitter banned him from the platform over the tweet, citing its rules against promoting violence.
Undaunted, Kobbe — whose name is derived from the Arabic word for warrior — set up another account. And when Twitter suspended that one too for a rules violation, he came back again. And then again. Today, Kobbe is on his fifth account and said he plans to stay on Twitter whether the social media giant likes it or not.
“At first it was because I believed I was wrongfully banned off the platform and now it’s just my own way of giving them the middle finger every time I send off a tweet,” he said, adding that his appeals to the company have either been denied or ignored — and that at least one of his subsequent accounts was removed without notification.
“I just feel like one of us is going to give up,” he said.
Twitter declined to comment for this story but has repeatedly cited him for violations of its rules against hateful conduct, promoting violence and threatening or harassing people “on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
Kobbe, who describes himself as a bit of a “troll,” said he uses Twitter to communicate with friendly (mostly right-wing) journalists and influencers and because he enjoys riling people up online.
Mandel himself wasn’t offended by the Hamas joke that got Kobbe kicked off Twitter the first time.
“It was a joke, and it was obviously a joke. He was criticizing someone else for seeming to dismiss putting Jews in danger,” Mandel told TheWrap. “I don’t know who reported him for that but it’s a perfect example of censors parachuting in, making assumptions and zapping someone. He was doing the opposite of being anti-Semitic, and then Twitter brands him an anti-Semite. Ridiculous.”
The Mujahed brand, however, is not for everybody. He’s called Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn a “f—ing dumbass” and CNN’s Brian Stelter a “little bitch clown.” Kobbe has urged actress Brie Larson to “smile more” and dismissed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D.-Minn.) as “The exact stereotype Muslims in America try really hard to fight against.”
Kobbe defended his caustic approach to social media. “I just find it hilarious, s— posting,” he said. “It’s really the reaction you get from people that makes you want to do it a little bit more.”
Kobbe, the son of a Muslim immigrant from Lebanon, has also leaned into his own faith and ethnicity as fuel for his online commentary. His Twitter avatar features a shirtless Tinder image of himself interposed onto a background with ISIS fighters. “I got a talent for being randomly selected at airports,” reads his bio.
“Even my own mother calls me a terrorist,” he said in another tweet.
Though he can be abrasive, Kobbe has developed a cult following among some of the platform’s biggest influencers. His tweets regularly go viral as superfans come back to each new account he opens. Kobbe is publicly chummy with HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali, Washington Examiner editor Siraj Hashmi, liberal columnist Molly Jong-Fast and ‘Ellen’ executive producer Andy Lassner.
“He’s hilarious,” Jong-Fast said. “But he needs to stop tweeting pictures of himself as a bomber. His whole personality is a violation of terms of service.”
Mandel too remains a supporter. “He’s funny and is very good at the stuff that used to make Twitter so much fun. Namely, the playful ribbing among friends that immediately transforms into having your back 100% as soon as someone comes for you. In other words, the ‘social’ aspect of social media.” he said. “This is rapidly becoming a site that punishes humor.”