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Al-Sahab Media: The Strength and Weakness of Al Qaeda - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Many would rush to the conclusion that the impact of the latest al-Qaeda’s tapes is exactly as it was a few years ago. but the truth of the matter is that the sight of Osama Bin Laden threatening America and the west, or celebrating the attacks on New York and Washington, or the countless other Video statements released over the years no longer have the same impact on us as they once did.

Bin Laden’s appearances have become a rare occurrence, and that the Al-Qaeda leadership from a media perspective at least, has been restricted to the statements of Ayman Al-Zawahri, the groups second in command. But even in these rare video statements, you can’t help but feel that we are watching someone whose time has come and gone, like an old movie star, who’s having difficulty accepting that their star has faded, and who longs for the glory days of old.

leaving aside the political and ideological laced al Qaeda messages which are always brought to us by its Al Sahab” Media Production Company and should never be taken lightly, is the media aspect of the movement, which requires a bit of consideration, particularly because in today’s conflicts manipulation of the media has become the fiercest weapon. In many ways, this is why Islamist who are Al-Qaeda sympathizers brag that the terrorist movement has been successful in its propaganda activities, there by achieving a victory over the US and the West in this aspect, where many movements before the emergence of al-Qaeda failed.

In the last year al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri has appeared in nine videotapes, the last of which was broadcast a day before the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In his many appearances over the years al-Zawahiri has evolved from a disheveled militant hiding in a mountain to a TV presenter in a studio and now finally an intellectual sitting in his library surrounded by numerous books.

It is no secret the Al-Qaeda are trying hard to portray its image as an organization that sponsors international independent movements which carry the same ideological perspective as they do. Advocates of this perspective may not be insane but the ideology which they support carries its large share of madness and dementia.

It is true that this violence once shook the world’s foundations, but now these scenes from a propaganda video could easily shift into the comedic realm in a blink of an eye. The irony lies in the fact that the ability to inflict violence does not require an equal degree of intelligence. Violence needs intentions as well as a demonic will.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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