Posts on an English-language Twitter account believed to belong to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei praised the recent arrest of 10 U.S. sailors in his country's waters, turning an image of their capture into a Twitter meme and praising the act as "God's deed."
Notably, the post misidentifies the sailors as "trespassing Marines."
This is the second time in less than a week that social media accounts believed to be helmed by Khamenei (since he lacks any verified Twitter or Instagram accounts) to put the controversial image of the U.S. sailors in the spotlight. InstagramOn Sunday, the aforementioned Twitter account also featured photos of Khamenei meeting with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard members responsible for the sailors' arrest to Twitter.
These social media posts may seem minor, but their potential reach is significant from a numbers perspective: The Instagram account in question has approximately 601,000 followers, and the English-language Twitter's following clocks in at just under 184,000 followers.
The sailors were arrested on Jan. 13 after allegedly drifting into Iranian waters near the country's Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf.
The sailors were released 16 hours later and have since returned home to the U.S., but the Iranian government was quick to capitalize upon their captivity for propaganda purposes, filming a series of videos featuring the Americans (including one in which a sailor is shown apologizing for breaching Iranian territory) and posting both the videos and images of the arrest online.
The sailors returned to their home station in San Diego on Monday, but the Navy's investigation into how they wound up in Iranian territory continues.