Thanks to @Batteriechef and @colincookman for the link.
This is interesting. Seems like there are a lot of busy people at the moment, between this roll up and the Taliban roll up.
I wonder if Abu Musa is the same Abu Musa reported dead last year… I don’t seem to recall that ever being confirmed.
I am treating myself to a small procrastination break to relax the brain for a little while before kicking into the next section of the pesky chapter. So I have taken a little wander through the forums. Anyway, I haven’t done a post on that for a while so I’m just going to list a few things that struck me as I read.
First, the new AQAP audio from Al Shehri, which seems to have generated the usual breathless media coverage.
Al Shehri has for the most part reiterated what AQAP *already said* in an earlier statement. And this includes the threats against the US and the naval issues, which I blogged about earlier– when numpties on the forums started taking it seriously enough to form their own little intel gathering groups on US naval capacities. As I noted then the material they are gathering is fairly rudimentary. But herein lies one of the main mistakes made when analysing this type of information. People pay attention to the rudimentary nature of the materials being collected instead of the group formation taking place. These groups do have some form of contact and that is where the danger lies. Again and again you see this happening. But back to that audio.
To my mind the potential significance of this audio is that it contains public messages for bin Laden. Again, however, this is not necessarily new. We saw a lot of this in earlier campaigns. To some extent it needs to be treated with a grain of salt and what it means is up for question. I’ll have to make some time to consider this in a little more depth. But generally speaking AQ has a history of communicating and receiving op orders in this way (here I mean between core and franchise) so it shouldn’t necessarily be discounted as a propaganda rant. Between franchise and cells or groups that it has authority over (the degree of which can vary depending on which region these cells are operating in) these types of orders and communications have, in the past, been communicated via the Q&A section of magazine publications or on forums as well as via more covert means, depending on what is being discussed. Obviously not all the details end up on forums or Q&A sections of magz but there has been, in the past, enough to get the gist of what is going on if you know who’s who. However, this is a historical example and I haven’t had the time to scour through current AQAP mags to see if this is again occurring. Having said that I mention it because it is a well established modus operandi.
Keeping with the theme of AQAP,next up we have Karim al Mejjati, his son Adam and Karim’s widow.
Karim, and Adam died in a shootout with Saudi authorities in 05 I think it was, or maybe 06. I forget. Karim was a senior AQAP figure. Anyway, there has been another little spike in stuff about him across several forums. The last one I saw was in November last year. Anyway, a small video montage has been made and offered up as tribute to Karim’s widow.
What has me interested is that she is a member of and regular poster (via her intermediary) to the Al Falluja forum. And she commands a great deal of respect and attention. She’s been active again in response to the montage and other tributes. So I find this quite interesting.I’m entirely too lazy to post to all these links but if you want them let me know.
Although she doesn’t quite have the authority of Malika El Aroud whose first husband was one of the two men who killed Masoud on 9 Sept 01 and second husband reportedly took the Belgian-French group they recruited to train with AQ in Waziristan in 08. However, she does command a great deal of respect.
Which brings me to Abu Dujana al Khorasani’s widow
She’s actually triggered a few anxious posts by a couple of jihadis. Again too lazy to post all of them, but the gist is that they wanted to know whether they can view her, because she wasn’t fully veiled in the interview she gave, which is doing the rounds of the forums. They were also wondering why she didn’t observe the four months and ten days they thought a widow should lock herself away from the world after losing her husband before she came out and gave media interviews.
But anyway, she seems well on her way to assuming a position along with these other two. I haven’t bothered to check but I bet somewhere out there she’s on one of the forums, so it will be interesting to see if she too starts becoming more active after losing her husband.
This brings me to a point in general about women on the forums.
I have found it fascinating to watch. When I first starting lurking about in 01 there were very few of them in the forums (at least who would acknowledge they were women). This has changed significantly over the years. And they are now welcomed and included on an equal level in discussions on these forums. The impact of social media I think has been quite significant in terms of pushing the role of women in jihad forward. It offers a forum where interaction is permissible whereas out say in Afghanistan the men and women could not meet and discuss these things. Of course that’s a very quick summation and the reality is a little more nuanced that this, but it is really striking that the militant salafist forums have become quite an open and accepting platform for female supporters of the jihad to join in.
Speaking of platforms and accessibility this brings me to my last observation for the day the uptake of new digital media formats
As I’ve been out and about downloading files I’ve noticed that files are no longer just uploaded in pdf, word, chm or even SWF/Flash formats. Now things are uploaded with support for universal ebook formats like EPUB, Kindle (yes I kid you not), and this is the most fascinating one to me, Daisy. Daisy format is for talking books.
Now I haven’t tried out any of these because I learnt my lesson messing with new formats last year… But nonetheless the uptake of new technology on the forums continues. So too does the pirating of software–especially adobe related products. I tweeted earlier today I was tempted to join in one of forums’ tutorials. They’re not bad.
So there you have it.
Obviously a lot more going on, but this is what interested me in tonight’s internet wanderings.
Ok back to thesis for me. Cheers.
Have only just skimmed reports about the new tape and not sure how new it is or if it is possible to date the tape, but content wise it smells a lot like Adam Gadahn. Surprised bin Laden would bother with this.
And what is with the Al Jazeera distribution and Sahaab?
Just a quick one
a. Entirely not surprised by this.
b. Interesting that this tape went straight to Al Jazeera instead of the forums. Sahaab is so going down the toilet. Also the time frames for this are interesting. There has definitely been a bifurcation of distribution networks in Sahaab, which corresponds to different levels of access to senior leadership.
c. Wondering if the forums had prior notice. Several of them went down this afternoon for ‘maintenance’ .
d. He’s staying totally on his own message, which is pretty much at odds with a lot of what other senior members are saying –especially viz linking it consistently back to the Palestinian issue. Again access and Sahaab could have a lot to do with this. Bin Laden is however, probably also very cognizant of popular hatred against al Qaeda’s attacks in Muslim countries. Palestine has always been the issue he uses to try to regain the initiative and recalibrate public opinion and opinion within the militant salafist milieu.
e. In terms of what he’s doing. It’s pretty damn clear that by taking credit for this (even if AQ HQ didn’t authorise -which I strongly suspect it did given doctrinal requirements for operating outside of its usual theatre of operations) he is trying to force Obama more onto the war footing. Keep the jihad going. As I have said many times.
f. Re: more attacks coming. Well that’s anyone’s guess. But if AQ HQ has anything to do with it that is what they will want and encourage. Million dollar question, is, as always, capacity to pull off more attacks. Transportation and public spaces will be the areas of focus.
I just watched Adam Gadahn’s new speech. If ever one needed proof that As Sahaab is going down the tubes here it is.
I have to say that this video is the worst production I have seen come out of al Qaeda. It’s awful. He can’t even read from his flash cards. It’s stilted, stumbling and clearly rushed. Al Qaeda would have been far better off releasing this as a statement.
Al Qaeda used to have a very sophisticated media apparatus. If this is the best it can do, it just leads me to conclude that as I suggested earlier its media capacity has seriously gone pear shaped over the past 18 months or so.
One would think the very least they would have done is had someone with gravitas come out and front these allegations either by video or at the very least a statement.
Instead we get Adam. And we don’t even get vintage Adam. We get Adam who struggles through this like a high school speech. He’s made a couple of good speeches over the years. This was not one of them. And considering the seriousness of the public relations crisis al Qaeda is facing as a result of the bombing campaign conducted by its allies you’d think they’d want this one to count.
For a video aimed at denying involvement in attacking Muslims I couldn’t help be struck by the number of times Gadahn mentioned apostate. Again you’d think if al Qaeda wanted to take this position and reinforce it, they’d at least get someone with religious credibility within their own milieu to come out and say this.
The bottom line of this excerpt is particularly interesting in terms of the chain of authority for releasing policy statements. Not surprising, but its the first time I’ve seen this be publicly explained. I could have missed earlier releases though, where something along the same lines has been said.
Being Captain Obvious here, but what this shows is that the recent positioning by the Taliban to present itself as a national liberation movement is clearly part of a carefully calibrated strategy, approved at the highest levels. Rather obvious given that Mullah Omar has obviously touched on these subjects. But my point is that the Taliban is staying very firmly on message. Al Qaeda, however, is all over the shop. Partly because that’s just the way it is. But this is also because of some issues with access and command and control issues –especially in relation to media, which I have posted on many times before.
“We have nothing to do with the war between Pakistan Taliban and security forces. Our only and sole goal is to oust the occupation forces from our land.”
The Taliban Afghanistan spokesman denied media reports that his group has disavowed Pakistan Taliban.
“We have not taken any definitive decision in this regard,” Yousaf said.
Mullah Toor, who described himself as an Afghanistan Taliban commander, reportedly told a foreign TV station that they have disowned Pakistan Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
“First of all, no commander named Mullah Toor is operating in Afghanistan alongside Taliban,” Yousaf explained.
“Secondly, no policy statement can be issued by any Taliban commander except Mullah Akhund (deputy Taliban Chief).”
Shabab (Somalia) “Breezes from the Winds of Vicotry”
I haven’t watched this yet. You can find links here at the Ansar forum. It’s been advertised for some time.
There is reportedly a new production on the way from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb via their new media house Andalusia Media
Also a new audio release by As Sahaab, a speech by Mustafa Yazid, al Qaeda’s third in command. It’s on the Peshawar bombings and Blackwater and I’m presuming contains allegations that the US was implicit in the bombings. I will get around to posting on this later.
And Al Qaeda in Iraq/ Islamic State of Iraq has a new video out too.
The dynamics of how some of this material is getting onto the net have discernibly changed in recent months. I will get around to posting on this later too.
As an aside some of the forums are *again* offering the equivalent of virtual internships/training for how to make jihadist media.