Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 16:57 | SYDNEY
Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 16:57 | SYDNEY

Terrorist (dis)information


Sam Roggeveen


2 July 2010 09:31

The Atlantic's Mark Ambinder has some screengrabs on his blog of what is alleged to be the first ever al Qaeda English-language magazine.

I say 'alleged' because Ambinder does not dismiss the possibility that this is a trick played by Western intelligence agencies. The teaser on the magazine's front page — 'MAKE A BOMB IN THE KITCHEN OF YOUR MOM' — looks just absurd enough for the whole thing to be a hoax.

An information strategy that mocks al Qaeda would be a welcome change from one that paints the organisation as ten feet tall and an existential threat to the West. But maybe the best strategy is not to talk about al Qaeda at all. On Wednesday, the Cato Institute's blog ran an extract from what looks a promising book: U.S. Counter-Terrorism Strategy and al-Qaeda: Signaling and the Terrorist World View, by Joshua Alexander Geltzer. Here's the extract:

In addition to calling far less attention to its own actions, America should call far less attention to al-Qaeda — and, moreover, should almost always avoid naming the terrorists themselves...While the political profit to any American politician of constantly naming al-Qaeda persists, resisting that temptation would frustrate al-Qaeda’s strategy of elevating its own status and framing its campaign against America as a viable enterprise in which all Muslims worldwide should enlist, aid and abet. Not only should al-Qaeda and its leaders be named less by American officials, but the label of al-Qaeda also should not be used to describe what are, in truth, diverse and splintered militant Islamist movements, organizations and networks.