NAIROBI, Kenya -- The Shabab militant group's Twitter account, home to a stream of messages at once threatening and mocking, has been suspended for the second time this year.
Written mostly in English rather than Somali or Arabic, the account appeared to be aimed not at fighters or followers but at the wider world. The suspension took away the group's platform for communicating swiftly and seamlessly beyond the borders of Somalia, but there appeared to be little standing in the way of the group starting a new account.
The Syrian Electronic Army, a shadowy hacking group that claims to support the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has had accounts shut down repeatedly but continues to function on the site.
The Shabab's presence on Twitter has raised significant questions about the line between freedom of speech and providing a platform for a group designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the American government.
"Account suspended," read a message at @HSMPRESS1, the Shabab's Twitter handle. "The profile you are trying to view has been suspended."
Twitter does not comment on individual accounts, but according to its abusive behavior policy, "Users may not make direct, specific threats of violence against others."
J.M. Berger, the editor of the Web site Intelwire.com, posted repeatedly on Twitter over the past several days about Shabab threatening to kill the Somali president before the group's account was suspended.
"Well @Twitter it's Day 3 since Shabab tweeted a threat to assassinate Somalia's president, still no action from you," he wrote on Thursday.
A Shabab Twitter account, @HSMPRESS, first appeared in December 2011. American officials started exploring avenues for shutting it down almost immediately. That account was suspended in January after the group sent out a message vowing to kill hostages if the Kenyan government did not meet its demands.
HSM stands for the group's full name, Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahedeen, or Mujahedeen Youth Movement. The Shabab fighters used to control large areas of Somalia, but have been driven out of many areas, including the capital, Mogadishu, by African Union peacekeepers. But the group remains deadly, carrying out a series of devastating attacks this year against targets including a United Nations compound in Mogadishu.
On the Twitter account the group often taunted the African Union mission, the Somali government and others it deemed "crusaders" and "apostates." The group had more than 6,000 Twitter followers, many of them journalists who turned to the account in the aftermath of violent episodes in Somalia to see whether the group claimed responsibility.
In a statement on Friday, the HSM Press Office confirmed that the account had been shut down, calling it "another futile attempt to silence the truth and the factual coverage of events in Somalia." The question of whether to register a new account remained under discussion.
The group warned that it had no active accounts "operational on Twitter, therefore anything posted on parody accounts should not be attributed to HSM," but the BBC reported that the group still had an active account in Arabic.
The fluent English of the Twitter posts led officials to question whether a foreigner rather than a Somali might have been behind the account. Some Americans have gone to Somalia to fight with the Shabab, and several have died as suicide bombers.
The person or people behind the account quickly exhibited a linguistic dexterity in the short-message form, in a voice by turns bragging and menacing, with a tendency toward alliteration and mock epic language, rendering a violent world of mujahedeen versus crusaders, in 140 characters or less.
A Twitter post on Sept. 3, after what the group described as an attack on the Somali president as he traveled to a port city in the south, declared: "The merest mention of the perilous road towards Marka would undoubtedly haunt him for the rest of his life. Next time, you won't be as lucky."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.