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September 27, 2005
Courage!, Say The Cowards

Just when we thought the anchorman model for news broadcasts had died out, leave it to al-Qaeda to bring it back on the Internet. The Washington Post reports this morning that al-Qaeda has begun its own news program, bypassing such outlets as al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, which edited its copy in the past, and going out directly to the world on an Internet stream:

An Internet video newscast called the Voice of the Caliphate was broadcast for the first time on Monday, purporting to be a production of al Qaeda and featuring an anchorman who wore a black ski mask and an ammunition belt.

The anchorman, who said the report would appear once a week, presented news about the Gaza Strip and Iraq and expressed happiness about recent hurricanes in the United States. A copy of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, was placed by his right hand and a rifle affixed to a tripod was pointed at the camera.

The origins of the broadcast could not be immediately verified. If the program was indeed an al Qaeda production, it would mark a change in how the group uses the Internet to spread its messages and propaganda. Direct dissemination would avoid editing or censorship by television networks, many of which usually air only excerpts of the group's statements and avoid showing gruesome images of killings.

Its first broadcast focused on news from Iraq, repeating the pledge made by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to make war on Iraqi Shi'ites, the "great victory" of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and a claim that Zarqawi's network had fired chemical-weapon missiles at an American compound in Baghdad. It even featured a commercial for an English-language movie called "Total Jihad", which unfortunately does not star Sylvester Stallone but appears to be a recruitment video for English-speaking Muslims. The maiden broadcast finishes with delight over the destruction wrought by Hurricance Katrina on New Orleans, to which the Islamofascists refer as the "city of homosexuals".

It does not say whether the anchorman with the bandolero and the ski mask had a quirky yet memorable signoff for his viewers.

All this really does is provide a clear channel for AQ to broadcast its propaganda, rather than just deliver the videos to al-Jazeera and wait for them to rebroadcast it. AQ must have tired of having their copy whittled down by the editing process and decided to go direct, especially since their production values have never been particularly high in the past anyway. The choice limits the audience for their videos to those who know where and when to look for them, whereas AJ and other Arab networks would typically play the edited clips over and over again.

One drawback for the West is that this will allow AQ's entire message to get out on the Internet. If these videos contain coded instructions, law enforcement agencies won't have the ability to cut them out prior to broadcast -- a probable reason for the change in tactics. The Internet always gave AQ a clear distribution channel for that kind of broadcast, though. Coded messages have appeared on Usenet boards for years, and websites and blogs have also performed that function for at least as long.

If AQ gets a bit too wrapped up in its celebrity, on the other hand, it may make a mistake and give away information that will tip the authorities to their plans and their whereabouts. In that case, we look forward to the eventual and abrupt cancellation of the Al-Qaeda Evening News and its sister show, 60 Martyrs.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 27, 2005 5:28 AM

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» Voice of the Caliphate: al Qaeda Newscast Debuts on Internet from Outside The Beltway
Al Qaeda is tired of having its message filtered through al Jazeera, so it is starting up its own web-based newscast, complete with anchormen and commercials. Purported al Qaeda Newscast Debuts on Internet (WaPo, A16) An Internet video newscast ca... [Read More]

Tracked on September 27, 2005 6:10 AM

» Move Over CBS, al Qaeda Moves Into the News Business from The Jawa Report
On September 23rd the Islamic Media Front released a 16 minute news video on the internet called 'Sout al-Khalifa' or 'Voice of the Caliphate'. In recent months, al Qaeda in Iraq has accused al Jazeera of being too pro-Western.... [Read More]

Tracked on September 27, 2005 12:58 PM

» Al Qaeda as media source from neo-neocon Qaeda is now skipping the media middle man, and debuting its own internet video news site. I guess even al Jazeera isn't good enough for al Qaeda--everyone seems to be dissatisfied with the media these days. I'm not sure why al Qaeda isn't more ... [Read More]

Tracked on September 27, 2005 3:08 PM

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