Monday, January 16, 2006

Jihadi Online - You've Got Holy War

The fight against Islamist terror today is not only, or primarily, one based in the material world; It is virtual. Al-Qaeda has essentially disappeared as a formal organization, being resurrected out of the ashes of Afghanistan into cyberspace -- the most dangerous place possible it could hide. With the ability to post encrypted messages to sleeper cells, post propaganda messages to followers, recruit new foot-soldiers and use new internet based telephony services, the Al-Qaeda ideology is alive and well establishing new franchises the world over. One of the more scary websites I visit to monitor Al-Qaeda's media strategy is Jihad Unspun.

Jihad Unspun seems to be the product of Western Islamists as they have tweaked Western pop-culture symbols --such as 21st Century Fox's trademark -- for jihad's purpose. They operate a member site where for a subscription price visitors can see the latest images of Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters attack and kill U.S. and Iraqi soldiers or the lastest fiery communique from Bin Laden. Not to be out done, JUS also operates a videostore where you can buy titles like The Last Will of Saaed Al-Ghamdi -- a 9/11 hijacker. Let's just say everything's here to party like its 1500 AD. Their lastest update ensures readers that al-Zawahiri is indeed alive after U.S. forces bombed a Pakistani border town thought to be harboring him.

In all honesty, it's an impressive, lovingly crafted site. Apparently the jihadists have learnt lessons from Madison Avenue and they know how to roll out a product. Check it out and see what sophisticated leaps our counterterrorism approach must take if we're going to stay on par or ahead of our enemies. The JUS website shows this is primarily not a military fight, but an ideological battle more akin to the Cold War. Too bad the Bush Administration doesn't understand that.