April 17, 2010 -- A Facebook account in the name of Osama bin Laden was shut down Friday, after attracting more than 1,000 "fans" and posting the speeches and recordings of Islamic extremists produced by al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Sahab Media Group.
The page, which went up on March 25, referred to bin Laden as the "Prince of Mujahideen," and set his location to the "mountains of the world," according to the Arabic language news site Elaph. Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in the mountainous area that stretches across Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It remains unclear whether the page was operated by close associates of bin Laden or by supporters based abroad. A Facebook spokesman cast doubt on a direct link.
"People often attempt to register fake accounts under the name of famous or infamous people," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the account in question or the other dozens of people who have tried to present themselves as Osama bin Laden have any relation to the terrorist," he said. "As is our standard practice, we have disabled the account."
There continues to be a Facebook page for the Taliban, with a smaller following of 31 people and signs that the page itself is a prank.
Facebook has access to the email and IP address associated with a profile or group, and works with local and federal law enforcement in certain cases. Noyes declined to say if there would be any follow up on this case, or on the hundreds of followers who signed up as bin Laden's "fans."
"These pages do pop up," Noyes said. "Sometimes they are able to slip through the cracks, but we do end up taking them down."
In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, bin Laden found public support in pockets of the Middle East and Europe. In February, his son, Omar bin Laden, told ABC News his father continues to have popular standing.
"Nobody dares to say, 'I follow your father' in public. But I find it very often and everywhere, people say, 'We like your father, your father is a hero,'" Omar bin Laden said.
'Osama Bin Laden' Facebook Page Shut Down
Earlier this year the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation published a report entitled "Taking al-Qaeda's Jihad to Facebook."
"In December 2008 members of the online al-Faloja Islamic Forums urged al Qaeda supporters to 'invade' Facebook by creating sympathetic groups to spread the Salafi-Jihadi message," the organization wrote.
"This outreach campaign seems to have had almost immediate results; according to Pakistani authorities, the five young American Muslims arrested in Pakistan last December were recruited online via YouTube and Facebook after the suspects used these sites to reach out to groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba," the report said.
Bin Laden has been on the FBI's Most Wanted List since June 1999. The U.S. government has offered a reward of up to $27 million for tips leading to his capture.