Watching the Watchers: A Jihadi View of Terrorism Analysis Websites
Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 33
Once in a while jihadi internet forums draw their members’ attention to Western tracking of such websites by posting messages analyzing terrorism monitoring agencies, often with comments on some of the better-known terrorism analysts. A recent posting entitled “Know your enemy from monitoring and analysis websites” probes and categorizes some of these agencies (al-ekhlaas, September 5).
In this posting, a jihadi forum member, nicknamed Zamjari, lists some terrorism monitoring agencies in the West and describes their analytical methods. “I offer this humble effort to jihadi brothers and Islamic jihadi intelligence men as a simple collection effort on the activities of enemy intelligence websites in these crucial times. Dogs and spies scattered in the Islamic forums should know that the mujahideen’s intelligence is tracking them before and after they collect any information on us,” says Zamjari, who divides the monitoring websites into three categories:
1) Translation Websites:
These websites provide translations of jihadi media, including audio, video and periodicals. These websites also copy texts posted in English, especially those of Islamic media centers such as the Sahab Foundation for Islamic Media Publication and the Global Islamic Media Front. The purpose of translation services is to inform Western citizens of jihadi activities. Zamjari describes a few translation websites such as:
Translates jihadi literature and distributes both the translation and the original Arabic text.
This website alleges that it provides intelligence extracted from al-Qaeda publications, says Zamjari.
Another translation website that accumulates jihadi material, translates and sell it through the website. Zamjari says this Website is belligerent to Muslims depicting American Muslims and their Mosques as fronts for hostile activity against the U.S.
2) Investigative Websites
These websites monitor and translate every detail of information found in the jihadi sites. Zamjari believes these websites are two-edged sword; besides their negative aspects, they also offer service to non-Arabic speaking Muslims in the West by translating useful Islamic literature. In this category, Zamjari mentions mostly Israeli or Zionist Websites such as Sionisme.xooit.com; a Zionist forum based in France, internet-haganah.com; dedicated to monitoring certain jihadi members (especially those who post material on weapons of mass destruction) and Jihadica.com, deemed the most dangerous by Zamjari.
3) Research websites comprise experts and researchers specialized in thorough analysis.
• The first institute on Zamjari’s list is the Jamestown Foundation; “Jamestown is a remarkable research center with a core of experienced and credible analysts. Visitors to the Jamestown website are mostly from the United States, Britain and Turkey,” says Zamjari.
• Spirit of Truth is another research center. The main report of the center is entitled “What is Going to Happen Soon” that tries to predict the timing of an imminent al-Qaeda nuclear attack on the United States. (Zamjari makes an unusual selection here. Spirit of Truth is the website of abusive and foul-mouthed televangelist Don Vincent. Excerpts from his bizarre Los Angeles public-access television rants have become popular viewing on YouTube. Vincent’s website features links to War on Terrorism-related articles, mostly of an apocalyptic “conspiracy-theory” type).
• Crusade Media – Another US monitoring and analysis center concerned mainly with al-Qaeda’s nuclear activities.
• The Terrorism Index 2008 – A very important report prepared jointly by experts, researchers and journalists from Foreign Policy magazine and American Progress research center. Zamjari gives a summary of articles published in the report and posts a downloadable copy of the report.
Ekhlaas.net is comprised of fourteen forums, the major one of which is the “Events-Issues of the Islamic Umma” forum. Among the fourteen are three forums in English, French and Turkish. Directed at Muslim and non-Muslim Western audiences and calling on them to repent and join the jihadi movement, the English section of ekhlaas contains translated religious material, the latest al-Qaeda releases and jihad training manuals. Members of the English section are constantly tracking and re-posting foreign press and analytical reports pertinent to jihad and the mujahideen. “Brothers and sisters, in this thread we put together any information about those who claim they are monitoring and watching the jihad websites….some of them claim they are intercepting videos and other jihadi media releases…the fact is that they copy and paste them from ekhlaas or other authentic forums, and then embed their logos into them to boast in front of the traditional media outlets that they captured and intercepted this and that release,” says English section forum member “Motaman.”
Most often, al-Qaeda affiliated websites contain sections in English and in other foreign languages posting translations of major al-Qaeda and jihadi statements; however eklaas.net is one of the very few jihadi websites that agitates against western journalists and relies on participants residing in Western countries to keep members informed about the latest Western reports on terrorism. Jihadis typically consider journalists and analysts specializing in terrorism to be infidels, calling on members to kill them at the first chance.