Al-Qaeda TV, Via the Web

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 18

The first editions of the weekly al-Qaeda TV news broadcasts, under the heading Sawt al-Khilafa (Voice of the Caliphate) have now appeared via the Internet. Dedicated to Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mulla Omar and Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, the Islamic armies in Chechnya, Kashmir and the Arabian peninsula, the maiden broadcast was posted on September 21 on the jihadi forums, and consists of a 15-minute news round-up. After an introductory montage of video images of mujahideen lasting just over 1.5 minutes, the news is presented by a masked newsreader sitting at a desk, a brown curtain behind him, with a machine gun mounted on a tripod and a copy of the Qur’an on the desk.

The first issue featured congratulations to the Muslims on the re-conquest of the Gaza Strip, a series of extracts from al-Zarqawi’s audio statement focusing on the declaration of war against the Shi’a and the collaborators in Iraq, and on al-Qaeda’s successes in confrontations with U.S. troops, including footage of a claimed chemical attack by the Islamic Army in Iraq at U.S. forces in Baghdad. The final section, beginning 13 minutes into the broadcast, is devoted to a gloating account of the ravages of Hurricane Katrina (one of “Allah’s soldiers”) on “the city of homosexuals,” New Orleans.

A second short 1.5 minute broadcast followed on September 28 focusing on Spain’s prosecution of the al-Jazeera TV journalist Taysir Allouni—whom the al-Qaeda broadcaster referred to as ‘our brother’—on charges of “collaboration with a terrorist organization” for having helped to finance al-Qaeda through performing courier tasks for the group while reporting on the war in Afghanistan (

As far as a television launch program goes, the production value was not rudimentary, save the inevitable sound problems caused by the announcer talking with a face covered by a Kuffiyeh headdress. As demonstrated by the sophistication of their use of the Internet, al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups have developed an impressive expertise in IT and media communications. The present initiative comes as a response to long voiced frustrations by the mujahideen that their ‘message of success’ was not getting out. Al-Qaeda news propaganda scored a high-profile first with videos of beheadings, attacks on U.S. forces and speeches of al-Qaeda leaders, but forum watchers have long seen competing claims for stories of action in Iraq, and an average day sees the posting of a dozen mini stories on action undertaken and claims of coalition casualties, which the mujahideen do not see reflected in the main media. This has led to frustration, death threats, and even bombings of media premises (Focus Volume II, Issue 14). The producers of the broadcast, the Global Islamic Media Front, have been active for about a year and this latest initiative is an eloquent manifestation of the “call to arms” made to armchair mujahideen. A visual medium such as this, with its succinct packaging format, has the potential to reach a far greater audience and to arouse greater interest than written material, and push the al-Qaeda propaganda message of progressive success.

Note: One of the forums posting the Sawt al-Khilafa broadcast was the Saudi dissident Muhammad al-Mas’ari’s al-Tajdeed forum ( This is the forum which reappeared on the Internet after they themselves announced its closure on August 25, with a notice lamenting that they had become a victim of the “murder of freedom of opinion and expression by the oppressive regime lead by Tony Blair, the liar and well known war criminal.” The reappearance seems to indicate confident defiance of the British authorities. (On the threat to al-Tajdeed, see Focus Volume II, Issue 16).