First Published: 2005-09-09

 
Al-Qaeda takes jihad to media four years after 9/11
 

Al-Qaeda fighters become producers, film directors, video cameras have become their most potent weapon.

 

Middle East Online

By Habib Trabelsi - DUBAI

Armed with a different weapon

Stripped of its Afghan haven and chased across the globe, the Al-Qaeda terror network is increasingly resorting to "media jihad" four years after the September 11 attacks on the United States for which it took credit.

The Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), heir to the "Global Front for Fighting Jews and Christians" set up by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998, presents itself as the hub for Al-Qaeda propaganda on the Internet.

Its emergence is testament to the weight now being placed by Islamist militants on winning over minds to their cause through new media in the absence of any physical command headquarters, terror experts say.

"Unite, O Muslims of the world, behind the Global Islamic Media Front. Set up squadrons of media jihad (holy war) to break Zionist control over the media and terrorize the enemies," the GIMF's "emir," who goes by the nom de guerre of "Salaheddin (Saladin) II," exhorts Al-Qaeda followers on the Internet.

The GIMF, is "a new Qaeda (base) of Islamic information on the Internet. Our goal is to denounce the Zionist enemy," echoes his deputy, "Ahmad al-Watheq Billah."

"The Front does not belong to anyone. It is the property of all Muslims and knows no geographical boundaries. All IT and communication experts, producers and photographers ... are welcome to join," he writes.

It has so far posted some 350 documents on Islamist websites, including footage of military operations in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other places where the "mujahedeen," or holy warriors, operate.

Its latest production, a five-segment six-minute film titled "Bloody Comedy," was "the fruit of the cameras of the mujahedeen in the Land of Two Rivers (Iraq)," which "exposed American soldiers, Allah's enemies."

"To all Americans, watch how your sons fight. Don't believe what your media report," the Front wrote.

The video showed an army Humvee blown up by an explosive device in Iraq and a reporter for the US television network Fox News reporting that two American soldiers were wounded in the "accident," but their injuries were not serious "and they resumed their work right after receiving some care."

The Front recently posted a so-called "Top Ten" of bloody attacks against US forces carried out by the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of Two Rivers, the group of Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The 17-minute video is aimed at "those who like to see American crusader blood flowing," the GIMF said.

One segment showed American soldiers' bodies torn to pieces in an attack near the Syrian border that was claimed by Zarqawi's outfit.

Another scene showed seven US soldiers whose bodies were pulverized in a landmine explosion, before other US soldiers came to collect their remains.

The Internet is also loaded with literature destined to recruit fighters and teach them the tactics of guerrilla warfare and also - primarily - how to manufacture explosives in an effort to groom lone terrorists not necessarily linked to Al-Qaeda or some local variation of the network.

"With the 'war on terror' continuing, Al-Qaeda can no longer find the space to meet, set up camps and train members, so it established a new 'command headquarters' on the Internet to spread fear among its adversaries and boost its men's morale," said Yasser al-Sirri, head of the London-based Islamic Observatory.

"The new generation of Islamist militants realized long ago that Al-Qaeda is no match for the United States and its allies. But the militants clearly have an edge in the propaganda battle, a crucial component of the 'war on terror'," said Jason Burke, a British expert in terrorist groups.

"The terrorists have become producers and film directors, and video cameras have become their most potent weapon," he said.

 

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