Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thinking about today's media-savvy terrorists

I thought you smart worldly people would find this of interest - some of you may have seen it before, forgive me. 

If it's offensive, apologies - I think  understanding our 'enemies' is far more valuable than screeching about them.

Inspire is Al Queda's quarterly magazine - available free on the Internet. I've not read it before, but I spent some time reading the latest edition and found it kind of interesting.

First of all, there's a strange sort of Good Morning America feel to it; which is part comical and part unnerving. 

The "Hear The Word - a collection of quotes from friends and foes" section is kind of amusing and the section on reactions to Inspire is really interesting - it's like a "review of our last edition" section...

The second part in the series "Training with the AK" is informative and easy to follow - if you happen to own an AK47, I'm sure this will be of interest to you.

The letter to the editor this month was a long and interesting one from Imran Khan (of cricket and now political fame) which is meticulously answered by the Editor in quite some detail. The response is factual, polite and informative (often coming with recommendations of further research that can easily be done on Google) and the tone is more reminiscent of the pages of Monocle or Men's Journal than of some loony terrorist cell.

There is also a "Send your questions to Anwar al-Awlaki" section that I think he's going to have trouble delivering on given that he's currently indisposed courtesy of as US drone attack.

What fascinated me most was the coolness (cool headedness, not cool) of the tone and attitude - one section called 'Open source jihad' says it's useful because the advice given "allows Muslims to train at home instead of risking dangerous travel abroad".... This is clearly a group with an excellent understanding of themselves and their position.

I guess my point in all this is that AQ have again demonstrated that they are far from tone deaf and are, in fact, very innovative in their thinking. To publish a glossy quarterly in English is a smart move on their part and to talk in such measured ways is clearly going to play to a certain audience.

It always annoys me when the Sean Hannities of the world rage on about these people being animals or living in caves - it's just ridiculous. This is a sophisticated and well educated enemy that we would do well to respect even as we distain.

For more on this, check out a very interesting study from Radio Free Europe called the Al Qaeda Media Nexus 

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