Counter-Terrorism: Al Qaeda Media Massacre


August 27,2008:  Over the last few months, al Qaedas Internet propaganda department has been virtually destroyed. The most visible evidence of that is the sharp decline in al Qaeda press releases (often accompanied by vids of attacks on U.S. or Iraqi troops). Last year, there were as many as 200 of these items a month. Over the past few months, this fell over 90 percent.

The reason for this sharp drop was the physical capture of the al Qaeda news and production staff, along with their PCs and data files. Over the last few months, several dozen of these specialists were captured or killed, and nearly a terabyte (a thousand gigabytes) of raw video, sound files, documents and software was captured. This put many key terrorist PR operations out of business. This in turn led to fewer cash donations, or volunteers for combat, or suicide missions. Moreover, the sudden collapse of the al Qaeda PR operation caused the Arab media to move towards more coverage of the Iraqi government (which was now distributing more of its own very professional combat videos). The Arab media had also noticed the sharp loss of public support al Qaeda had suffered in the Arab world. All those Moslem civilians al Qaeda killed in their suicide bombing attacks was rather more than even the most anti-Western Arabs could stomach.

The seemingly sudden attacks on al Qaeda's media specialists was no accident. U.S. intelligence has been tracking these guys for years. Al Qaeda protected their media people inside Iraq, even while trying to move a lot of the operation outside the country. But the source of new videos had to be inside Iraq, and much of the initial editing and production was done in Iraq as well. Too many of the al Qaeda media people felt obliged to stay in Iraq, and that ultimately cost them their freedom, or their lives. That's because, the surge offensive last year took control of many areas in central Iraq where al Qaeda was able to keep their media, and other, specialists. But American intel was able to monitor where these people were, and when the surge offensive got rolling, the al Qaeda support soon found that there was no place else to run.





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