Tags: Al-Qaida | yemen | al-qaida | affiliate | media | makeover

WSJ: Yemen al-Qaida Affiliate Getting Media Makeover

By    |   Friday, 13 Mar 2015 05:34 PM

The Yemen-based al-Qaida affiliate is retooling its media strategy to compete with Twitter and tech savvy jihadists and the U.S. government, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"We believe we are misunderstood as a result of the continuing American propaganda," an unidentified media liaison for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) tells The Journal.

"That’s why we want to counter the U.S. government’s narrative."

"Our fight against the U.S. isn’t about oil, or because we hate Americans for being Americans," the liaison says. "That’s the way congressmen and analysts in America like to frame it. There are reasons behind our resistance, such as the U.S. support to Israel and its support to corrupt regimes in the Muslim world, its unjust invasions and crimes…. So as long as these reasons remain, our jihad will continue.”

The Journal notes AQAP is aiming to muscle into the world of cyber propaganda to vie with the Syrian-based Islamic State (ISIS) in particular; ISIS split from al-Qaida in 2013 and has demonstrated a disturbing prowess with slick videos featuring Western-accented henchmen, and Twitter accounts in French, German and Albanian, The Journal reports.

"Clearly, the competition with the growing field of Islamists is one of the driving reasons behind this [AQAP] strategy," Rami Khouri, a Beirut-based analyst, tells The Journal.

"They want to make sure they are major players in the media and blowing up things is no longer enough in their eyes."

The Journal notes since it was founded in the late 1980s by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida and its affiliates have communicated with the wider world via videotaped commentaries delivered by leader in archaic Arabic.

Now AQAP is stepping up with a more media savvy approach. For example, The Journal reports, top leader Nasser al-Ansi held the group’s first question-and-answer session online with foreign reporters and AQAP members and supporters last year. Questions were submitted on Twitter and al-Ansi replied in four videos.

It also has begun using texts while leaders punch up formal statements to regional media outlets, The Journal reports. They've also pushed for Western recruits through Inspire Magazine, the brainchild of Anwar al-Awlaki, the fiery New Mexico-born recruit who issued video statements in American-accented English. A U.S. airstrike killed Awlaki in 2011 in Yemen.

"The al Qaeda [operatives] in Guantanamo really believed that God was on their side and that they would have real legitimacy if they just had the opportunity to explain themselves,” Charles Schmitz, a professor at Towson University and former translator at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, told The Journal.

AQAP’s media operation is increasingly adept at getting out the group’s message and extending its reach, The Journal reports, noting it contacted reporters within two days of the Charlie Hebdo attack to claim responsibility, and followed a week later with a taped defense of the bloody assault.

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The Yemen-based al-Qaida affiliate is retooling its media strategy to compete with Twitter and tech savvy savvy jihadists and the U.S. government, according to The Wall Street Journal.
yemen, al-qaida, affiliate, media, makeover
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2015-34-13
Friday, 13 Mar 2015 05:34 PM
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