Category Archives: al-Qaeda

US “Losing Media War to al-Qaeda”

Mr Rumsfeld said al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists were bombarding Muslims with negative images of the West, which had poisoned the public view of the US.

But where are Islamic extremists getting such images and why has the Bush administration been so eager to provide them? The latest release of photos from Abu Ghraib surely aren’t helping.


US ‘losing media war to al-Qaeda

The US is losing the propaganda war against al-Qaeda and other enemies, defence chief Donald Rumsfeld has said.

It must modernise its methods to win the minds of Muslims in the “war on terror”, as “enemies had skilfully adapted” to the media age, he said.

Washington and the army must respond faster to events and learn to exploit the internet and satellite TV, he said.

Separately, President Bush said the US should not be discouraged by setbacks in Iraq and must realise it is at war.

“We shouldn’t be discouraged… because we’ve seen democracy change the world in the past,” George W Bush said.

However, he also used his speech in Florida to claim progress in the war on al-Qaeda.

Mr Bush said that slowly but surely the US was finding terrorists where they hid.

‘Newsroom battles’

Correspondents say that in recent months victory in the battle for public opinion has become a new front for the Bush administration.

In a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations, Mr Rumsfeld said some of the US’ most critical battles were now in the “newsrooms”.

“Our enemies have skilfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but… our country has not,” he said.

Mr Rumsfeld said al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists were bombarding Muslims with negative images of the West, which had poisoned the public view of the US.

The US must fight back by operating a more effective, 24-hour propaganda machine, or risk a “dangerous deficiency,” he said.

Government communications planning must be “a central component of every aspect of this struggle”, he added.

“The longer it takes to put a strategic communications framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy.”

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‘Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden’ Reviewed by Noah Feldman

Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden
Becoming bin Laden

Review by NOAH FELDMAN
Published: February 12, 2006
NY Times

There is something obscene about reading the self-justifications of an acknowledged mass murderer. But what makes the collected speeches, interviews, Web postings and other public statements of Osama bin Laden different from, say, “Helter Skelter,” is that bin Laden is not clinically mad. He gives reasons for his actions that, while morally outrageous and religiously irresponsible, could be accepted by otherwise logical people who shared his premises. This makes him more, not less, dangerous than the Charles Mansons among us. Bin Laden has an audience, of which he is acutely aware — a fact made particularly clear by his recent offer of a “truce” with America. His words, as much as his deeds, aim to convince others to embrace his view of the world and act accordingly.

Without words, in fact, bin Laden’s violence could not achieve its stated goals. By his own account, bin Laden is neither a nihilist nor a millenarian. He does not claim to embrace violence for its own sake or in the hope of hastening the apocalypse. Rather, he purports to fulfill the twin duties of calling nonbelievers to Islam and defending the Muslim community from attack.

The goal of jihad (presented by bin Laden as a matter of self-defense) needs words because bin Laden has no sizable army at his back. Unable to subjugate the West, bin Laden thinks his best bet is to inflict harm — human and economic — and then blackmail his target. For bin Laden, then, actual violence is instrumental. It is the interpretation of violence that is the very essence of his religious and political program. To hold his explanation in one’s hands is to confront his reason for being.

“Messages to the World” is almost too well produced. Bound in an attractive orange wrapper and printed on excellent paper, it comes decorated with a thumbnail painting of the man himself, garbed in one of his allusive, carefully constructed outfits. The peaks of the Hindu Kush loom in the background, reminders of the Tora Bora debacle. James Howarth’s English translation is idiomatic and creditable. Bruce Lawrence’s notes are occasionally idiosyncratic — why refute the claim that the United States created the AIDS virus but not the argument that “Rumsfeld, the butcher of Vietnam,” is responsible for two million deaths? And Lawrence’s introduction could have done without the puzzling comparison to Che Guevara. For the most part, though, the contextual explanations provided in the volume will be helpful to those uninitiated in the discourses of contemporary Islamic radicalism.

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New Osama bin Laden Tape

OBL has recently come out with a new tape (full transcript below), which the CIA has recently authenticated. Were he to suddenly give up his chosen profession – global jihad – and become a professional musician, would his cassettes still be popular? I think not. He would have a hard time auditioning demo tapes, but tapes warning of doom: air time on al-Jazeera. His niece, has tried to capitalize upon the name as a rising singer, while dismissing it, in her own ambitions to stardom.

Like the al-Zawahiri tape from this month, OBL has great access to information wherever he may be and specifically calls out Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. Not only that, but he’s reading human rights reports about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Clearly, he does not consider his own beliefs as infringing upon human rights – the jihadi double standard.

Most importantly, OBL offers a truce.

Based on the above, we see that Bush’s argument is false. However, the argument that he avoided, which is the substance of the results of opinion polls on withdrawing the troops, is that it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land and for them not to fight us on our land.

We do not object to a long-term truce with you on the basis of fair conditions that we respect.

We are a nation, for which God has disallowed treachery and lying.

In this truce, both parties will enjoy security and stability and we will build Iraq and Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the war.

The White House quickly rejected such a truce. Yet if the U.S. government is indeed at war, as they have stated, why not come to the negotiating table? OBL also recognizes the military-industrial-complex as being the beneficiary of this war and having a vested interest in its continuation. He further recognizes that al-Qaeda, Inc. may loose the war to the U.S., but warns that future generations will seek justice – Iraq may prove him right.

Ed: Full transcript below

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How To: The Al-Qaida Guide to Kidnapping

The more Der Spiegel I read the more I’ve fallen in love with it; If only American magazines could come near the quality of Spiegel America would be far better off…assuming anyone reads it.

In this piece they cover a document which is a veritable “How To” on kidnapping by an Al-Qaida affiliate. Its equally fascinating and disturbing.

Kidnapping is okay — so long as it serves political or financial goals for a terrorist organization. It’s also fine if it draws attention to a political issue like, say, Chechnya. You should also stay distant from hostages — literally — lest you get to close to them, both physically and mentally. These are just a few of the parting tips offered by a top al-Qaida strategists before he was killed in 2004.

Ed: Full article below

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Why are all al-Qaida captives “No. 3”?

How many “No.3″s are there in al-Qaida? Apparently the media stopped counting a while back as Timothy Noah writes in this article.
Al-Qaida’s Rule of Threes
Why are all al-Qaida captives “No. 3”?
By Timothy Noah
Updated Monday, Dec. 5, 2005, at 7:07 PM ET
Some jobs just seem impossible to keep filled. Hollywood studio head. United States ambassador to Iraq. Editor of the New York Daily News. Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
To these we must now add “al-Qaida’s No. 3 official.” John Crimmings, proprietor of the New York-based Blogenlust, has been keeping track of al-Qaida third-in-commands captured or killed by our side, and counts no fewer than four.

There’s Hamza Rabia, reportedly killed Thursday by an American missile. According to MSNBC, Rabia is said by two unidentified counterterrorism officials to be

head of al-Qaida’s foreign operations, possibly as senior as the No. 3 [italics Chatterbox’s] in the terrorist group, just below al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri. They are believed to be hiding in a rugged area along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

Before Rabia there was Abu Farraj al-Libbi, who as of May 5 was reported by Fox News to be held in Pakistani custody. Libbi (no relation to the recently indicted White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby) was said not to be “head of foreign operations,” as Rabia reportedly was, but rather to be plotting attacks on the United States. Perhaps it amounts to the same thing. At any rate, al-Libbi, Fox reported, was “believed by U.S. counterterrorism officials to be Usama bin Laden’s No. 3 man.”

Before al-Libbi there was Abu Zubaida, whom Ruth Wedgwood of Yale Law School called “the number three in al-Qaida” on PBS’s NewsHour. We don’t seem to know much about Zubaida’s job description beyond the fact that he was, as the Washington Post put it, “involved with the Sept. 11 plot,” which is a bit circular; of course the No. 3 guy in al-Qaida would be involved in the Sept. 11 plot.

Before Abu Zubaida there was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the “alleged mastermind” of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to Fox News, and also “Al Qaeda’s No. 3 figure.” Mohammed is also apparently al-Qaida’s treasurer, having disbursed cash to Mohammed Atta. In one respect, Mohammed’s job description is identical to Zubaida’s: It apparently requires that the employee be subjected by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators to “water boarding,” a form of torture—ahem, I mean interrogation—in which the subject is made to think he is drowning. No doubt the pension benefits have been adjusted upward to compensate.

The obvious question here is whether these four people successively held the position of No. 3 in al-Qaida—in which case, as Jon Stewart has observed on The Daily Show, the job would appear to be “sort of a raw deal”—or whether counterterrorism officials are inclined to call any reasonably high-ranking Tom, Dick, or Harry “al-Qaida’s No. 3” simply for the purposes of propaganda. Another possibility is that our side does this for the purposes of psy-ops, to create confusion among the al-Qaida rank and file about their own organization’s true hierarchy. (It isn’t like you can get Bin Laden to adjudicate turf wars every time confusion arises over the chain of command.) Yet another possibility is that al-Qaida’s management hierarchy is ludicrously top-heavy, and that “No. 3” is a position held simultaneously by many people who in a similarly top-heavy corporation would be labeled “vice president.” No matter what the explanation, it’s clear that the sweet spot in al-Qaida management is No. 1 and No. 2. After that, job security seems only slightly better than that enjoyed by suicide bombers. My advice: Go with Procter & Gamble instead.

Timothy Noah writes “Chatterbox” for Slate.

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