On November 14, a posting on the al-Hesbah jihadi forum (www.alhesbah.org) displayed a novel use of the Internet. Entitled the “Pledge of Death in God’s Path,” the posting by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) called for forum participants, on “Day One of the Great Pledge month” to swear an explicit oath of allegiance (bay’a) to Osama bin Laden, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar and Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi.
The posting explained the pledge as a means to “terrorize the unbelievers and cause them a thousand apprehensions concerning the mujahideen in particular, and Muslims in general.” Given its stated purpose, the GIMF—the media organization underpinning al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers—likely intended this notice to counter the media talk of splits in the jihadi ranks and faltering support for al-Zarqawi following the negative reactions to the November 11 Amman bombings.
The announcement also constitutes a recruiting poster and survey of support, in that it calls for the oath to commit the respondent to “allegiance to death… in the very near future,” and at the same time sets itself a month to garner statistical information on the number of respondents who would be prepared to actively engage in jihad “so that Osama bin Laden will have an army in Afghanistan, an army in Iraq, and a huge army on a waiting list on the Internet pages.” The Internet’s crucial role as a tool of the jihad is explicitly underlined by the GIMF: “This is the Internet that Allah has enlisted in the service of jihad and of the mujahideen, which has come to serve your interests—given that half the battle of the mujahideen is being waged on the pages of the Internet—the sole outlet for mujahideen media.” Finally, the pledge request is lent the reassuring authority of tradition with a succinct definition and explanation of the term “bay’a” in Islamic law. The pledge is gradually making its way, as planned, over the forums. On the al-Firdaws forum, one among many forums carrying the pledge, the number of respondents had grown to 62 by November 23 (http://alfirdaws.org).