Jihadis Counter “Censorship” of Islamic State of Iraq

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 21

In the context of spreading al-Qaeda’s propaganda in Iraq, pro-al-Qaeda members of jihadi internet forums and enthusiasts of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) are posting ways to break through the so-called “censorship” imposed on ISI news. A recent post entitled “Practical methods of breaking media censorship imposed on ISI” explains the reasons for imposing censorship on ISI by Western media policies and suggests ways to evade the media blockade (al-ekhlaas.net, May 16).

A forum participant, nicknamed al-Battar Imran, says Western media intentionally avoid using the name “Islamic State of Iraq” and mention only “al-Qaeda in Iraq” because it would mean recognition of an Islamic state. In the same token, Western media highlight the civilian casualties in any operation of al-Qaeda in Iraq to manipulate the audience into detesting mujahideen operations and blocking ISI’s video broadcasts as much as possible. Imran suggests different methods to break the media blockade, including prioritizing the target audience of the campaign. This begins with the Islamic religious scholars as the highest priority, followed by students and then Islamic youth in general, regardless of their religious commitment.

To break Western media obstruction, Imran instructs forum members to upload video clips from al-Furqan (The Criterion—a jihadi media outlet named for the 25th sura of the Quran) to forums and scientific websites after renaming them to conceal their jihadi nature. Several names are proposed for these clips, such as “To my virtuous shaykh,” or “Urgent—a matter of life and death.” Naming the clips after prominent Islamic figures and posting them to websites is another method that would deceive web users into downloading and watching them. Forum members should form a media front specialized in disseminating jihadi video clips to religious scholars, anti-jihad Islamic websites and all Iraqi websites regardless of their inclinations, whether Islamist or nationalist, according to Imran. Further methods include making CD copies of the clips and distributing them in mosques and libraries while making sure that the clips do not contain negative remarks about the anti-jihad Islamic ideologues as that would alienate their followers from the message. Reiterating the crucial need to break the media blockade, Imran says: “Muslims ignorant of jihadi operations make it easy for Americans to appoint pro-American religious authorities. America’s defeat in Iraq means erasing its presence in the whole Arab Gulf, [with America] consequently losing access to Gulf oil, its lifeline artery.”

Another forum chatter suggests targeting Syrian websites and all the forums and chat rooms of hot area countries such as Somalia, Algeria, Lebanon and Palestine. A forum chatter nicknamed Harqoos posted the email addresses of over 25 Islamic religious scholars.

The technique of reaching as many Muslims as possible sounds very practical if it succeeds in reaching indifferent Muslims living in Western countries. It would also reach Muslim youth that, in normal circumstances, avoid downloading jihadi material for fear of the security forces in countries that use such downloads as evidence of terrorist inclinations in a court of law.