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Tuesday, March 06, 2012 

Wading knee-deep through the jihadist media sewer.

I don't pay anywhere near as much attention as I once did to jihadist media. This is for a number of reasons: English sources for it have almost completely dried up, with the main site I used to find it on long gone; the insurgency in Iraq, similarly, essentially no longer exists, and so the insight the propaganda of the groups there provided into how the occupation was going and into jihadist strategy and thinking in general has likewise disappeared; the law has been tightened to such a ridiculous extent that the simple possession of one issue of Inspire magazine, the unintentionally hilarious in-house journal of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula can result in a 16-month prison sentence; and also, there are only so many videos of fireworks going off under vehicles supposedly occupied either by the Americans, the CIA or the collaborators while the person filming shouts "ALLAH AKBAR!" over and over you can watch.

From the very meagre access I now have to the videos emanating from these various groups, not all of whom are necessarily Salafist, I've noticed something rather curious. While the Arab spring has thoroughly discombobulated al-Qaida central, with both bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri imagining that it would be their victories against the Americans that would inspire the Arabs to rise up against their Western-backed rulers, rather than liberal and leftist campaigners who would quickly be joined by those across class, religious and political boundaries, other Salafists have turned to the ballot box where previously they eschewed it, most notably in Egypt.

In Libya and Syria it's a different story entirely. Despite the claims of many that some of the Libyan militias were either veterans of Iraq or had at the very least jihadi sympathies, something backed up by the prominent role of Abdel Hakim Belhaj, formerly of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, it now looks as though some jihadis are fighting back against the NTC under the Gaddafi green banner, however bizarre that might sound. Difficult as it is to verify exactly what their reasoning is, or whether this might be to assign Salafi influence to tribal infighting, that such videos are being posted on the same forums mainly used by jihadis is instructive in itself.

In Syria, more predictable is that the Free Syrian Army, a misnomer if there ever was one as it has nothing approaching a central command, has "brigades" that are quite openly veterans of Iraq. As Angry Arab has noted, they even have a tendency to name themselves after either Qatari or Saudi politicians, or alternatively historical Islamic figures, including ones that are regarded with open disdain by Shia Muslims. Already there are groups releasing long videos with decent production values, including this one that claims to show a suicide bombing in Damascus. The Assad regime has of course been squealing since the uprising began that they're fighting back against terrorists, and so accordingly it's right to be suspicious of such videos, it hardly being beyond the remit of the Syrian security services to produce such material; it does though give some credence to the view of the US military that at least some of the bombings have been carried out by jihadists.

What's so odd is that there doesn't seem to be any reason as to why jihadists would want to ally themselves, however briefly, with those yearning for the bad old days under Gaddafi rather than give the NTC a try. In Syria, the reasoning is obvious: Sunni Muslims being persecuted by a relatively small sect for demanding their rights, even if the situation has since changed fundamentally. The potential involvement of al-Qaida in Syria is worrying precisely because of the record of al-Qaida in Iraq, which quickly turned to sectarian bloodshed as a tactic, the ultimate aim being to drive the Americans out. In Syria this might hasten the fall of Assad, but at a massive cost for all involved. There is still then something to be learned from keeping an eye on jihadi propaganda, however bleak the world it promotes would be.

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Say what ? Al CIA-da in Iraq ? Huh. Saddam would have put paid to any such nonsense if allowed to do so. Heck of a deal when America's tyrant doesn't manage to take down a nation with 2 1/2 times the population of his country when supplied weapons including WMD.
He had to go - for failure.
Now look who is in charge of the made to fail state partitioned as per the plan.

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