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Saturday, Dec 03, 2022
Outlook.com
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Opinion

Counter Jihad On The Net

Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri and others have mobilised hundreds of Muslims in different parts of the world to assist them in their jihad through the internet. They need effective countering.

Counter Jihad On The Net
Counter Jihad On The Net
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

"The Al Qaeda 2006 Yearbook:  A Complete Reference and Translation of Al Qaeda Messages in 2006.. The year 2006 was an especially prolific one for As Sahab, the media production department of Al Qaeda. During the course of the year, they released nearly three dozen messages. Of these, six were messages from Osama bin Laden, 17 were messages from Al Qaeda second-in-command Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, one was from Azzam the American, and the remaining were various  lesser known Al Qaeda personalities or videos of operations in Afghanistan. This reference guide includes the videos and audios produced and released by As Sahab in 2006. The "Yearbook" is heavily indexed, with extensive footnotes, and is over 600 pages long. It includes a full color video reference guide for each of the 2006 videos. This guide provides a valuable reference for visual identification of the videos. The "Yearbook" is available with or without a DVD containing each of the videos released in 2006 by As Sahab. Pre-orders are currently being accepted for the "Yearbook", which is expected to begin shipping on January 15, 2007. "

So says an advertisement found on the internet. The Al Qaeda Yearbook is prized US $ 99.There are hundreds and hundreds of such advertisements from private or citizen Al Qaeda watchers  flooding the internet. It is not only the propaganda, the disinformation, the rantings of the jihadi terrorists, which are all over the net. It is also the counter-jihad of hundreds of "experts", who are offering their own material and expertise —for a heavy price.

Do you want the text of the latest message of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 to Osama bin Laden? 'Click here", says one posting. You click there and you go to another site, where there is an announcement that the text is available only to subscribers. You are asked to remit US $ 10 through your credit card before you can get it.

You want to know how many times Zawahiri was wearing a black turban since 9/11 and how many times a white turban? What is the significance between a white and a black turban for a jihadi?  'Click here". You click and you are asked to pay five dollars.

There are hundreds and hundreds of blogs on terrorism causing an internet jam. They give titles to themselves. And make tall claims. Not about helping the counter-terrorism agencies catch a terrorist. I can understand a blog claiming credit for identifying the hide-out of a jihadi. They claim credit for other exploits of a derisive nature. "The first blog to announce that a new Zawahiri message is on the way," claims one. "The first blog to point out that the Zawahiri message is already posted on the web," claims another.

It was former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the UK who once said that publicity was the oxygen of the terrorists. She banned any publicity to the statements of the leaders of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on the BBC.

One can control radio and TV. The internet is beyond any state control. One cannot prevent the jihadis and other terrorists from making use of the internet for their own purposes, but one should find ways of ensuring that civilised sections of society do not unwittingly facilitate their use of the internet for propaganda, training, recruitment, motivation etc.

The global jihad of Al Qaeda and other jihadi organisations associated with it in the International Islamic Front (IIF) has caused so much fury in the minds of the ordinary citizens of the world against the jihadis that many of them are voluntarily assisting the counter-terrorism agencies by monitoring the use of the internet by the jihadis. This is a commendable initiative, which needs to be appreciated. Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri and others have mobilised hundreds of Muslims in different parts of the world to assist them in their jihad through the internet. The counter-terrorism agencies of different governments by themselves would not be able to counter effectively this internet blitzkrieg. They badly need the help of the citizens, including those with some expertise and others who are new entrants in the field of counter-terrorism. These citizen experts play a very important role in educating the public.

At the same time, one should ensure that one does not unwittingly help the jihadis in their internet blitzkrieg through undesirable publicity. How to do this is something, which should occupy the attention of the counter-terrorism agencies.


B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.

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