New “Fursan al-Shahada” Video about Nigeria?

Posted November 18, 2010 by Nico Prucha
Categories: AQIM (al-Qaeda in Africa, primarily Algeria, Mali and Mauretania), Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Jihadist Ideology, online jihad

In October 2010 AQIM published a video, “The Raid of al-Damus“, regarding the situation of Muslims in Algeria but also in Libya and Nigeria. The video shows revenge operations against the Algerian police and National Army soldiers, ambushed on Algeria’s remote highways. These attacks not only took place to fight the infidel regimes in the region but particularly to avenge the execution of unarmed, detained civilians by the Nigerian army. AQIM takes this as proof to further justify its deeds and military operations with sequences of Abu Yahya al-Libi and Ayman al-Zawahiri in the video.

The scenes, it seems, have been taken from Aljazeera and put in motion in the AQIM video in its propagandized surrounding. Aljazeera describes the sequence as

“Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage from Nigeria which shows unarmed men being shot dead. The footage was taken last year when the Nigerian government was hailing its defeat of an Islamist rebel group known as Boko Haram.” The video shows the shooting of detainees in public by the Nigerian army (2:00) which has appeared in AQIM’s video.

“Muslims annihilated in Nigeria – The Crusader army kills Muslims in cold blood”. On the bottom right the al-Andalus media logo.

 

Corpses of Algerian soldiers are depicted in detail. Ambushed for their service for the Crusaders as well as their participation in upholding un-Islamic regimes as well as being responsible for killing Muslims.

What has this to do with ISI and the forthcoming video “Fursan al-shahada, 8” ? While part six was all committed to self-inoculation attacks in Iraq to “support Turkistan”, this 8th edition seems to be about killing and undertaking operations in Iraq for the sake of Nigeria. Alert forum members pointed out that the picture, as it appears with the remark “soon” shows pictures of the above mentioned massacres:

Forum member “BomBer” graphically points out that these two stills are from the massacre in Nigeria. Started by a user naming himself “Mullah Abu Omar” started the thread with “Walid al-Sharqawi” responding “the brothers in charge for the publication have previously focused on various circumstances of Muslims, such as in occupied Turkistan (west China) by the communists, after the massacre [further] violating the rights of Muslims there. And in this video the focus will feature the land of the Hausa, “Nigeria”, remembering the Muslims who are being tyrannized by many different means, inciting the Muslims in “Nigeria” to carry weapons. And God knows best.”

Hijacked Islam

Posted November 18, 2010 by Nico Prucha
Categories: Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), misc, online jihad

The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq, also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), announced today the 8th film of its notorious series of the “Fursan al-shahada“. These, mostly professionally made, movies show and depict the testimonies and attacks of those carrying out self-inoculation attacks, also termed ‘suicide’ or ‘martyrdom’ operations in Iraq. The greater meaning of the Arabic term istishhadiya is of essence, whereas the individual sacrifices his life for a greater good in order for ‘Islam’ to benefit while the Mujahid attains the status of having confessed the utmost possible for God with the claim of being rewarded accordingly in the afterlife.

The individuals read out their testimony, according to the usual habit of the jihad video genre, portray their – naturally – piety and the fear of God while moving out on “the path of God” to fulfil the divine command, a holy covenant of individual duty “to elevate the word of God”, living the lives of early Muslims solely in regard of combat and military actions – neglecting all other forms of spiritual and scholarly knowledge. This is highly effective propaganda combining the rhetoric and the wording of individual Mujahideen with the written ideology of AQ global. Here the consumers of online jihad materials find their role-models (prominently: Abu Dujana al-Khurasani) and are put in touch with elements who are in the battlefields and hotspots of jihad, who tell their tales, who have witnessed war and who express in their speech their drivers that led them to the decision of undertaking self-inoculation operations. In a previous part of “Fursan al-shahada“, the istishhadiyin operatives directed their attacks in the name of “helping Turkistan”, a region in western China where the al-Hizb al-Islami al-Turkistani went on a (Arabic) propaganda material publishing rampage after ethnic tensions rose. Since then, the “Voice of Islam”, an Arabic e-zine, is published on occasion. This edition of “Fursan al-shahada
is yet another statement by ISI to show their sympathizers that they are still in place, despite the ‘beheading’ of ISI leaders in April 2010. Further, these videos intend to deliver proof and role-models to the online crowds that the jihad for justice and truth (haqq) is not interrupted and that Iraq is as much as other theatres of jihad alive and striving for the jihadists’ understanding and definition of religion while – again – promoting martyrdom.

Anyway, with the Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, mabruk 1431!, it is certainly no coincidence, that AQ in general tries to further capitalize on public Islamic events and holidays. Usually within the forums ‘gifts’ are issued to the sympathizers and followers when Ramadan dawns. This year, Khalid al-Husaynan ‘blessed’ the online ummah with a series of speeches and sermons defining and interpreting Surahs, for example, or the “fear of hypocrisy” and the like. Punctually after the Islamic new year, AQI/ISI now announces “in order to celebrate Eid al-adha” a new movie part of the series depicting the testimony (al-wasiya) of self-inoculation operatives as well as their subsequent attacks. In some cases these operatives testimonies are filmed while sitting behind the wheel of the truck/car that will bomb them into heaven. This is attained as a deed of worship and falls into line of the jihadi school of thought as expressed by Abu Jihad al-Shami (“The Vision of the Jihaadi Movement & the Strategy for the Current Stage“):

“As it is well-known to any entry-level student of the Salafi Creed, worship is a general term that includes everything that Allaah, the Exalted, loves of actions and statements, whether apparent or concealed. Therefore, servitude is not limited to prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage. Rather, included under the term ‘worship’ is Jihaad in the path of Allaah, love for the sake of Allaah and enmity for the sake of Allaah, calling to Allaah, removing oppression, judging by the Shari’ah, and ordering the good and forbidding the evil.” (p6)

In the past decade, AQ and co had been quite efficient and highly industrious within the online clouds to promote, expand and thus hijack specific religious, social and particularly historic settings, seeking to manifest proof of their actions as based on the alleged righteous, true and pious creed and subsequently being by their worldly actions closer to God than other individuals. The gaps have been filled and nowadays known faces such as al-Awlaqi shock the western media when all the sudden his sermons and speeches can be retrieved in English on YouTube, facebook, Twitter and other websites in various languages. This is certainly another dangerous and alerting fact but the missionary spreading of AQ’s definitions, wordings and notions have infected the internet for a very long time and new materials (videos and writings) appear almost daily, covering more and more niches and providing an in-depth appeal by letting the Mujahideen speak, who undertake such istishhadiya operations against foreign and/or domestic enemies, attaining both: fame online as well as the shahada (according the jihadist creed). An assessment of legitimizing the two severe istishhadiya operations in 2007 in Algiers can be obtained here.

By such “surprises” and “gifts”, the global torrents of jihad further attempt to hijack public parts of Islam, expressing a violent conduct as proper and rightful celebration of public holidays while adherents of this specific ideology speak out to provide personal justifications bound to an universal understanding of fighting Satan, the apostates, the disbelievers and what have you. Gifts and “glad tidings” are disseminated via the forums and instantaneously spread online.

“Soon, with the permission of God – 8”

Khalid al-Husaynan’s sermon on the 9th surah of the Quran – a gift during the holy month of Ramadan (published in August 2010).

Death to Christians – ISI and the rampage against the Cross

Posted November 16, 2010 by Nico Prucha
Categories: Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)

On 31 October 2010 elements claiming being members or affiliated with the “Islamic State of Iraq” (ISI) an al-Qaeda wing killed 52 people in total in a Church in Baghdad. The hostage crisis quickly turned bloody and via the Arabic jihadist forums ISI published a number of statements and demands. The attack was supposedly triggered by an event in Egypt, whereas two women of the Egyptian Christian minority, the Copts, had converted to Islam and had been subsequently detained by the Copts refuting their conversion. AQ propaganda has gone wild about this calling out for ‘justice’ while attempting to incite violence against Christians in general but against the Copts in Egypt particularly. While AQ global with its localized offshoots usually emphasizes on a rhetoric of (self-) defense as well as the preservation / restoration of honor, dignity and sacrosanct values (including women as well as the protection of cultural Islamic values), the attack on the Christians in Iraq can be understood in a similar logic: Attacking alleged affiliates of the Copts in Egypt who are as much waging a war against Islam as foreign occupants and who are, like the Shiites or other minorities, assumed being part of a conspiracy with local rulers against Sunni Muslims. In AQ’s reasoning, two conflicting programs are at work: “The program of truth” versus “program of falsehood”. In this universal war, the reasoning is simply and complex at the same time as the individual Mujahid is fighting for “truth” and “piety” whereas anyone and anything outside of his perception are termed and defined as being part of a highly detailed conspiracy against Islam. The revenge attack on the Church Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad and the followed bloodshed is being exploited on the forums by the participants and hobby propagandists with the help of Photoshop who justify the attack accordingly to the statements and memoranda released by ISI – who adhere to the ideological elements and provide their (partially graphical) output online.

The attack occurred, according to the Long War Journal by “Al Qaeda fighters armed with suicide vests, assault rifles, and hand grenades, and wearing uniforms of a local security company, attacked the nearby stock exchange, wounding two security guards. The attack on the exchange appeared to be a feint designed to lure security forces to the area while a squad estimated at between five to eight terrorists stormed the Our Lady of Deliverance church and took 120 Christians hostage, according to the Associated Press.” AP reported later that as many as 58 had been killed in the attack.

The claim, that Arab Christians in the region are actively contributing to the alleged war on Islam has also been stated by notorious Anwar al-Awlaqi, who, in his recent filmed speech, told the story of a women and her two sons from Australia. Shyloh Giddins converted to Islam and “then heard that Yemen is the land of the al-Ansar” where she migrated to. Being arrested on demands of the Australian government with the help of US intelligence by the Yemeni government, so the story goes by al-Awlaqi, she questioned the Yemeni interrogators why they are punishing her as they should be the al-Ansar (the supporters of Islam). The interrogators simply replied – and this is a word game not uncommon for Arabic jihadist rhetoric – that “we are Christians (nasara) and not ansar“. The ISI attack on the Christians in Iraq is a more vicious and massive attack on those, who for several years now had been the rhetorical enemy while AQ is trying to exploit and gain on all fronts available. History tells us, that having an interior enemy, a sworn traitor, is always beneficial for those who transgress humanity by all means available.

With the hostages at the church, ISI first demanded the release of Camelia Shahada, one of the converted women in Egypt who is sought being held by her husband in a church against her will, and gave out “a ultimatum to Shenouda of 48 hours or war against the Christians in the region will be declared.” ISI states that her release as well as “the rest of the detained Muslimas” is obligatory, otherwise “total war will be declared”. Christians and churches at the “hand of Shenouda” worldwide would be a target while “we say to the Vatican as they have gathered the Christians in the Middle East of various torrents to support and guide them to pressure them in order to release our sisters.” Shenouda will be held accountable for “the destruction of all regional Christians”.  This statement was accompanied by an audio message of the “Self-inoculation Brigades” who demanded the release of Camelia Shahada (or: Shahata) and Wafaa Costantine.  The English translation can be obtained here: ISI

3 November 2010

“The War Ministry of ISI” then released another statement declaring the “end of the ultimatum while the Christian church in Egypt did not concede and did not declare the state of our imprisoned sisters and their release. We did not hear anything.” Therefore, ISI “declares all centers, institutions and councils of the Christians as a legitimate target for the Mujahideen.” The Christians, including the Vatican, are subsequently defined as mushrikeen (see footnote 5 here), as those, who ‘partner’ or associating elements (Saints, Holy Spirits, material things) with God, thus distorting the fundamental monotheistic claim. Parallel to their demand, ISI claims that “five heroes of Islam, who responded to the mobilizing call of the amir al-mu’mineen and fulfilled their duty for their sisters in religion” conducting operations in the Kurdish areas of Iraq. The follow-up statement, although the Church operation ended in bloodshed on 31 October 2010, intends to extend the reach of AQ / ISI as the ‘guardian’ of Muslims and – most importantly – Muslimas.

Back to the forums

A few examples, not mentioning a recent video lashing out against the Christians (see here: MEMRI), taken from the forums, whereas the flock of jihadist sympathizers had gone wild about the hostage taking in Iraq and the claim to conduct this as part of a jihad sought to liberate and safeguard Muslims from both worldly enemies as much as universal enemies at war with God and Islam:

Anwar al-Awlaqi – shooting star of AQAP and the online AQ spheres

Posted November 8, 2010 by Nico Prucha
Categories: AQ Arab Peninsula (Yemen), online jihad

Notorious Anwar al-Awlaqi, the US-born Yemeni ideologue that has in the last year or so been pushed and used by AQAP’s Yemen wing, has a new video, released online today. The video, the “filmed speech” is entitled “to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it” and is a short part taken from the Quran 3:187. The full part, according to the translation of Yusuf Ali is as follows:

“And remember Allah took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made!”

 

As usual, the video is available for download in various sizes, with 1.1 gb being the maximum. While I frequently promised to publish more on my blog, I yet issue another promise and will blog something in the coming days when I have had the time to consume al-Awlaqi’s speech/sermon.

The video is in Arabic with the call “to spread this video everywhere and to translate it into English.”

 

New brief update: AQIM publishes video with audio and pictures of hostages

Posted September 30, 2010 by Nico Prucha
Categories: AQIM (al-Qaeda in Africa, primarily Algeria, Mali and Mauretania)

Al-Andalus, the media department of AQIM, published a video today with stills of the French hostages in Niger. A statement was released online (where else?) prior to today’s al-Andalus production.

After along while… a few brief updates…

Posted September 30, 2010 by Nico Prucha
Categories: AQ Arab Peninsula (Yemen), Blog-News, crazy english jihad forum

Due to a lot of workload the blog had been totally out of date but now, perhaps with the bad weather kicking in, the blog will resume, at least spontaneously on parts of the huge data load of jihadist materials.

Some while ago AQAP Yemen published a couple pictures that may have been taken from a forthcoming video depicting various operations of the Mujahidin in Yemen. The original pictures had Arabic captions and now the al-Ansar Forum has re-published the same pictures with brief English descriptions.

With AQAP having been in control in Lodar, these pictures are sought to undermine how their ground is being defended.

“Image of an attack on a military checkpoint which oppressed Muslim women” . Naturally and ideologically bound as advertised.

Food for thought – article by N. Prucha

Posted May 18, 2010 by Nico Prucha
Categories: misc, online jihad

(abstract)

While the internet is the center of attention for the jihadists as well as the contemporary gaming industry, the article aims to provide the reader with a controversial comparison: both groups are heavily active on the Internet, using similar modes, such as forums, blogs, YouTube, websites and social networks (facebook) and both groups consist of a young generation, that came up with computers. The IT-fluency or the digital nativity of both groups has set a similar modus operandi on how both groups operate with and on the internet to promote their individual advertisement or propaganda. Similar to the gaming industry, the jihadists encourage and disseminate also ‘user generated contents’ that has led to an increase of jihadist propaganda and ideological challenges. Similar patterns can be found among fans and followers of the gaming industry.

The comparison of both groups has the intention to show the reader how smart, professional and technical able the internet is being exploited by contemporary terror groups such as al-Qa’ida, while its ideology has been subsequently extended and widely incorporated in various videos and pictures over the recent years.

This article does not analyze jihadist propaganda and ideology but rather intends to serve to show how jihadists have established themselves quite well on the internet in order to attract their hive of likeminded siblings. This allows, in the authors opinion, to draw a comparison to a group that dwells on the internet to promote products and attract potential users as well, the Gaming Industry. As jihadists favor the internet, favored products and possibilities set by the Gaming Industry have entered the jihadist online spheres as well.

A PDF version (with the endnotes) of the article is available for download here:

http://www.zshare.net/download/76237256037aa8b2/

Information on the (German) book of Nico Prucha “The Voice of Jihad – Sawt al-Jihad – al-Qa’ida’s first online Magazine”:

http://www.verlagdrkovac.de/3-8300-4890-4.htm

http://www.amazon.de/Die-Stimme-Dschihad-al-Qaidas-Online-Magazin/dp/3830048904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274128980&sr=8-1

Internet Ventures: Online Jihad and the Gaming Industry as Cultural Sub-Groups in Comparison on the World Wide Web

Nico Prucha

“Do not send a spy where a schoolboy can go” – Robert David Steele

“Raids on forums and blogs – today it’s your websites and tomorrow it’s your soil and territory, o servant of the cross! Call to every brother who has a blog and who has expertise of blogs to participate with us in this blessed raid” – ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Hakim

The intention of this article is simply to provide the reader with some observations of the internet by the author. The internet in its full spectrum is being used by many groups and organizations of all kind using various social networking platforms or other elements of the contemporary internet. However, two groups are henceforth in a practical stance compared. Both who are in great parts exclusively using the internet and who are not only both highly dependent on the World Wide Web, but are also in parts results of this specific fast changing and influential development: The Gaming Industry (GI) and al-Qaeda (AQ). What once was confined to a selected few, so-called computer freaks, a technical and intellectual avant-garde in the early to late nineties, who had as much as the technical capacities as well as personal abilities to use, shape and alter the internet, is in the meantime a common thing for the majority and part of everyday life.

Both AQ and GI are groups who deploy their advertisement, their propaganda, their promotional trailers and filmed suicide bombing clips online, within a genre-based specific cluster (Marin et al 2009) and within a characteristic framework. However, and this is the main observation and the underlying fundamental principle of this article, both groups, like many others on the so called “web 2.0”, are using same and similar means of promoting their specifically notions, ideas, products, videos and writings, with a similar effect on what users are contributing in terms of technical proficiency within a “cult” or “pop-cultural” content. This observation is certainly not surprising, but the article intends to shed some light on the value of the internet for terrorist groups, who systematically use it as a tool to disseminate propaganda, to influence, radicalize and recruit on this public medium. The dissemination and this borderless virtual indefinite free public space grants the individual followers, fans or adherents to have the exact same means and potentials of replying and becoming an interactive (counter-) part of a individual genre-based cluster. For the gaming industry, this may be by being an online “gamer” participating in and playing various electronic games. The GI can be seen as an avant-garde when it comes to promoting products (games) on the internet. The avant-gardism of the GI includes successfully promoting new and upcoming video games on all levels of the internet, reaching out to a huge crowd on a global scale.

While the crowd of jihadist followers, forum-members and participants is consuming mostly Arabic based videos, writings and other forms of propaganda, the majority can best be termed as “armchair jihadists”
who live and dwell within the online spheres of AQ and have the ultimate wish to join the real-life propagated role-model Mujahidin. The process of radicalization and its long-term aspired outcome of being recruited or at least inspired to undertake individual operations
(al-Suri 2005) is crafted in a professional and ideological comprising manner by the Senior and Junior Leadership circles of AQ. Many “armchair jihadists” adhere to the specifically determined interpretation of chosen religious concepts by the ideological authoritative circles of AQ and can see a practical and mostly military output of these definitions within AQ’s extensive library of videos (Hafez 2007).

The GI’s fans, on the other hand, the so called “gamers”, are the ones using the internet with all its options and possibilities to meet and mostly play multi-player games online. The GI could be termed as the present avant-garde of the “web 2.0”, an industry that has over the recent years subsequently designed games and gaming products that are in some parts exclusively played with others over the internet. The avant-gardism set by this particularly industry is bound to the core technical developments and foundations of the worlds hard- and in wide parts software manufacturers, that are being professionally and for pure commercial reasons exploited by the GI, with the dawn of blogs and online forums, facebook, YouTube
and Twitter, besides the “classical” websites.

Similarly, various political parties have picked up this online trend and discovered its resources. In most cases political parties are just as much active on facebook and YouTube besides having various blogs to further their cause.
US President Barack Obama’s YouTube Channel
is one of the main outlets to regularly address the nation – a cheap, quick and easy to use platform. This is also the understanding of AQ, who deploy its material as well since years according to their need to facilitate the internet by all means as strategic propaganda platform. AQ’s “Islamic State Iraq” YouTube Channel
shows in some parts its videos sniper attacks, IED or suicide operations “against the Crusader forces” in a quickly accessible format and nevertheless offers the high quality videos within its various forums to download.

“BentOsamaBenLaden’s Channel” – The YouTube Channel of the “daughter of Osama bin Laden” with the logos of the “Islamic State of Iraq” in the background


What does all of this have to do with AQ? Why compare the GI to AQ?

As stated, the same means and mechanisms offered to a global and local audience by the abilities of the internet and specifically the “web 2.0” have been penetrated and exploited by AQ systematically. Since the dawn of the internet and its discovery by AQ in general, the trend to make use of the internet was subsequently and systematically exploited under the auspices of the Saudi AQ branch in 2003 (Prucha 2010), by hosting radical magazines and videos on websites. Since the internet has gained a vital importance for AQ and related. With blogs established, forums created, facebook profiles and groups set up and YouTube as a free and easy to use platform to quickly spread jihadist videos, AQ has substantially infiltrated the internet and proudly calls this the “raids on websites, blogs and forums”
and has incorporated the internet as the vital backbone for radicalization, motivation and recruitment of potential online siblings. Another important aspect for AQ and its sympathizers are the various groups, such as the Global Media Front (GIMF), or the Ansar Mailing List Newsletter, that in most parts seem to be publishing exclusively online – and exclusively via jihadist forums. Furthermore, a number of “media” and “language departments” strive to supply a growing community of online jihadists with non-Arabic material, increasingly in German next to English, Urdu, Dari, Pashto or Russian translations of videos and ideological writings. Subsequently sub-torrents adhering to the global AQ ideology deploy local messages and threats in its local language.
Just as the GI has certainly discovered the multi-lingual setting of the internet, so has AQ and seeks to speak out for and to all Muslims who show interest in their radical creed and militancy. The internet does not only enable AQ to rapidly respond to claims made by either Western media or governments, but it allows AQ to issue its “truth” as in contrast to the “lies”. The up-to-date responsive character of AQ, particularly in terms of countering statements by governments in a highly professional ideological as well as technical manner may be one of its reasons of success as a global terror group which has led to various mergers with other radical-Islamist or jihadist groups in the past. However, the lack of addressing or rapidly responding to the uproar caused by the Danish Cartoon issue has also led to open criticism of AQ. In a similar fashion controversial issues such as the legitimacy of killing fellow Muslims as a result of bombing campaigns (in Algiers, 2007) was only addressed, after members of the al-Hesbah forum openly questioned AQ’s Algerian ideologue, who had to respond (Rashid 2007). But AQ remains in great (selected) parts highly active and responsive. When the Taliban kidnapped a group of South Korean Christian missionaries in Afghanistan, it was the leadership of AQ under Abu Yahya al-Libi who defended, justified and praised the action of “our fellow Mujahidin.” Also the notion was systematically reinforced and emphasized by al-Libi that AQ and Taliban are indeed fighting together for the same cause and the identical sake (al-Libi 2007).
AQ has what the German Red Army Faction could only dream of and what was frequently emphasized in their writings and statements in the 1970s, in planning “the next steps” (ID-Verlag 1997):

Comprising propaganda for the armed struggle; explaining the masses why it is necessary and unavoidable and how it can be prepared (conspiratorial leaflets and graffiti).

AQ on a technical stance like most online active groups, including the GI, have taken up the next steps that are perhaps a logical result of the contemporary technological development. Both groups are part of what can be termed a youthful “pop-cultural movement” that draw attention on the internet by specific messages and products and both groups have a specific language, graphical symbols in a highly individual iconography limited within its culture that is confined to the individual influence zones. While the same AQ related videos from YouTube can be found within facebook, there are also specific groups that use facebook to upload, host and propagate their personally made graphics, pictures and videos. Such “user generated content”, the individually programmed “modifications” for games, is also applicable for torrents of AQ and its skillful members who “modify” in their terms and in their worldview various pictures and subsequently re-publish them in ideologically adherent but independent groups on platforms like facebook. Similarly, groups like the Lebanese Hizbullah have even published games whereas the player assumes the role of a Mujahid fighting the Israeli forces in “The People of the Border” or “Special Force 2”.

“Jihad solves everything” – on facebook


With particular “products” openly broadcast on the internet, always easy to download and install, a specific “corporate guideline” has unfolded. The used icons, names, symbols and general layouts of documents and videos provide a coherent guideline that is used and respected within both online groups. However it must be noted that the graphical violence addressed by AQ as well as the purely virtual mode of violence hosted by the GI is of great difference even if some icons and pictures may suggest a greater relationship – exploited very well by AQ for its purposes. Contrary to the fact that both groups have intersecting elements, the sympathizing online jihadists are the ones exposed to extreme forms of real violence – with a real-life ideological jihadist agenda and actual battle zones portrayed in romantic pictures – it is the jihadists who, unlike the gamers of online or multiplayer games, are propagating the various forms of shown violence within a tight radical ideology (Prucha 2010; al-Batush 2009; Bonney 2004). Gamers are consumers of a legal content. This may naturally include so-called “first person shooters” (FPS), or “killer games” and are neither exposed to real forms of violence and bloodshed and do not advise to commit such acts in real life (Williams et al 2005). Nevertheless such games have a certain reputation, despite various studies and assertions. “A longitudinal study of an online violent video game with a control group tested for changes in an aggressive cognitions and behaviors. The findings did not support the assertion that a violent game will cause substantial increases in real-world aggression” (Williams et al 2005).The majority of the consumers of the GI simply enjoy various games and genres although some controversial games have been publicly branded as having inspired or enabled real forms of crimes, such as the worldwide school shootings.

Breaking the language barriers: “official” AQ propaganda with Indonesian subtitles


It may be true to best describe the situation as AQ having the best of all worlds online, as they may freely use, modify or simply propagate specific ideas and concepts within a framework the contemporary jihadist see fit to further their cause. Again, the main promotional tool and platform for the armchair jihadists as well as for real-life battle-hardened leaders are the online forums, and perhaps will remain so over the coming years. Facebook, YouTube and blogs are free, easy to use
and practical add-on to spread what the RAF termed “leaflets and graffiti” to reach out for the hearts and minds of a younger generation. While the GI is of course – like other cultural circles – influenced by the current political conditions of the world, the followers of AQ have the freedom to choose what products may seem useful for their jihadist endeavors and what deserves to be banned. Gaining practical experience in military training is a divine command (Prucha 2009) according to AQ’s ideology and so it may be natural that some armchair jihadists in their fantasy world play online games. Besides the constant consummation of mostly Arabic handbooks on mines, sniper-rifles, grenades, guerilla and urban warfare tactics, some element freely roam the GI’s product scale, using whatever games and mindsets suits them. It may be logical to find that with the GI and its fans developing so called “modifications” (mods), add-ons or enhancements for already published games, to keep certain games attractive and thus popular. A great deal of such mods is purely multi-player based and have a dominating “Western forces versus Oriental looking Insurgents attitude”. For the jihadist the graphical and role-playing elements published by mostly Western GI branches in the ‘Arabic-Muslim-Insurgent’ formats are nevertheless highly appealing. Any form of warfare, at best against American or Western soldiers, may serve as a parallel to actual conflicts around the world within the Islamic countries that AQ vows to defend and ultimately liberate from its direct as well as indirect occupation. Ones violence intense fantasy world of being or becoming a real-life Mujahid may be fueled by products of the GI and the resonance one may receive by publishing professionally made pro-jihadist pictures within the forums. Besides the publications of AQ’s warfare (militarily and ideologically) concepts, armchair jihadists may exploit online what was taken by the Lebanese Army as lessons learned in the conflict with the Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp Nahir al-Barid in 2007 (Dagher 2009): how to operate and move according to theoretical handbooks and practical videos in a urban- and guerilla warfare like condition; understanding the enemies aspired movement and setting up concealed positions for sniper attacks or IED’s that gives any guerilla troop an advantage over a state organized hierarchical military.

One example that made its way to the jihadist spheres from the GI fan-influenced commercial output is the “mod” for Valve’s “Counterstrike” entitled “Insurgency – Modern Infantry Combat”. Here the individual player as well as the armchair jihadist can indeed get a feeling as a sniper or a loosely organized cell fighting against a troop of US soldiers. This game consists of several multi-player maps that have an Iraq like setting whereas two teams play against one another: The US Army, with different soldiers attributes (engineers, snipers, heavy machine gunner et al) versus an insurgent group that look like a gang of prime time Hollywood Mujahidin. Such imagery from the game subsequently surfaced in jihadist forums, modified by sympathizers to suit the jihadists’ mindset.

“Insurgency – Modern Infantry Warfare” – from an jihadists perspective


Another example is how a modification for “Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare” another shooter gained popularity within jihadist forums, whereas the player has the possibility to assumes the role of the “insurgent” and thus fights Western soldiers.


In support of the “Islamic State of Iraq”, with the logo and a religious slogan embedded, this picture was addressed by the “Media Council of the People of Tawhed” in a jihadist forum. Particularly appealing may be the detail, besides combating US troops in a Middle Eastern environment, the Mujahid is also wearing the shmakh, the classical Arabic (Bedouin) headdress, as a scarf.

While extremist use of the internet certainly must be considered as a risk factor for involvement in terrorism, it is yet unclear to what extend this may actually lead to a real output of violence. The online foundation of AQ, however, provides individual sympathizers with a fundamental and comprising ideological alternative that is also highly attached to the idealizing videos, sermons and passionate calls from AQ leadership circles. Material are found on all levels of the contemporary internet may not be surprising, however, the specifically chosen elements from products such as the GI incorporated into the jihadists’ mindset and the subsequent usage for propaganda is a further element, that may attract followers and potential sympathizers who adhere to the core worldview of AQ and terror as a divine command as well as a legitimate ‘defensive’ tool, as implied.

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