Information Warfare: The Islamic Bewilderness


July 2, 2008: Al Qaeda has had a bad year, having been crushed in Iraq and having a hard time doing much damage anywhere else. But on the Internet , the Sunni terrorist organization is expanding its activities. Last year, it's Information War operation, as Sahab, put 97 videos onto the web. These tend to be gory clips of people getting killed by Islamic radicals. Two years earlier, less than twenty videos were put out. There are even more audio files, pictures and documents posted to the Internet, where thousands of pro-terrorism web sites pick them up and pass them along. Al Qaeda's number two guy, Egypian Ayman al Zawahiri (the real brains behind the operation) even offered to answer questions posted to pro-terrorist web sites. Within seven months, nearly two thousand such queries, and he has since answered over 300 of them, even some hostile ones.

Fortunately, for all this effort, al Qaeda's fan base is more smoke than fire. While al Qaeda supporters number in the millions, actual operators, people who are actually doing something, number only in the thousands. There are a lot of terrorist wannabes, who love to talk the talk, but never follow up. This has long been a problem in the Moslem world, where many believers take the meaning of the word "Islam" ("submission") a little too literally. American diplomats, and U.S. Army Special Forces operators, who have worked in Moslem nations for decades, have long complained about how long it takes to get anyone to actually do something. Lots of talk, little action.

In Iraq, Western trainers of the new army and police force complained of this lassitude, and willingness to say one thing, and do nothing. This leads to another problem, that of assuming Moslems who have adopted Western ways (efficiency, innovation and good planning) truly represent the Moslem world. They don't. Most Moslems, particularly those in the Middle East, live under the rule of corrupt dictators. The tyranny and corruption have been around for thousands of years, and it isn't going away quickly. "Real Moslems" are suspicious and paranoid, which is necessary if you are going to survive where they live. Speaking to them of "democracy" and "good government" is like trying to explain television to someone who's never seen one before, and doesn't even have a word for such infernal devices. This explains the Islamic conservatives hostility to TV, computers, videos and the Internet. Yes, they will use these things, but once in power, will impose severe restrictions on what you can actually do with those gadgets.

It's a whole different world in there, and most Westerner's haven't a clue. Even expatriates who work in Moslem countries were shocked, on September 11, 2001, when they witnessed so many of the locals celebrating the slaughter. It's human nature to distrust, fear and actively hate what we don't know and understand, and that's what is still happening in the Moslem world.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close