August 28, 2006:
Al Qaeda may not exist as much of a terrorist organization, or any kind of organization, anymore. But in one area, that of video and audio propaganda, it is, sort of, thriving. Production of such recordings are way up this year.
Al Qaeda Audio and Video Recordings Released
2002 12 (8 of them vids)
2003 17 (6 vids)
2004 23 (5 vids)
2005 24 (14 vids)
2006 57 (33 vids) through August
While al Qaeda was founded to train Islamic terrorists, and assist them in carrying out attacks, it also got into releasing video and audio recordings for the faithful, and potential recruits. Western media proved eager to play all, or part, of these recordings. Meanwhile, the recordings could be passed around on audio or video cassette. But in the last four years, the Internet has become much more available, and provided an even more efficient form of distribution. At the same time, video production equipment became smaller and cheaper. It was now possible for someone in even the remotest part of the world, like some village along the Afghan-Pakistan border, to produce high quality videos.
All those videos, plus the 'combat videos' released by other Islamic terrorist groups, have become enormously popular among young Moslem men. That has led to more plotting and planning, with the intention of carrying out some spectacular terrorist attacks. There have not been a lot more actual attacks. And those that do occur, mostly in Moslem countries, result in a lot of arrests and convictions.
Shutting down the al Qaeda Internet media campaign is difficult. Some governments have outlawed the al Qaeda content, just as they have outlawed other types of content they find objectionable. You cannot completely eliminate stuff that way, but you can make it unavailable to a lot of people, and hard to get at for the rest. Several counter-terrorist agencies have been shutting down Islamic terrorist media sites as quickly as they can find them. That doesn't work very well. What works better is hunting down and arresting the handful of Islamic terrorist supporters who have the good Internet skills, and are playing a major role in keeping the al Qaeda message available on the net.