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In his most recent appearance, Al-Qaeda’s Second-in-Command Ayman al-Zawahiri stressed the importance of “jihad media”, describing it as a critical tool in the battle against the “Crusader-Zionist Enemy”.

Zawahiri’s emphasis on “Jihad” media illustrates that it is a part of a larger declared strategy, which his movement needs to ensure its continuity.

Mimicking the format used by numerous Jihad websites, Al-Zawahiri for the first time invited visitors to pose their questions to him promising to answer them by the middle of next month.

Promoting this endeavor is the As-Sahab Foundation for Islamic Media Publication; Al-Qaeda’s media production house, which in the last year has produced over 90 Jihadist videos, three times its total production of the previous three years. As-Sahab issued a statement inviting all parties, individuals and institutions to participate in Zawahiri’s so-called “Open Forum”, with the promise of a reply by the man himself. Dozens of questions have already started piling up on Islamist websites affiliated with the Al-Qaeda movement, which in turn is monitored by governments and intelligence agencies globally.

This is a huge step for the terrorist movement, which for the last several years has been striving to build a modern communication infrastructure, to the degree that al-Qaeda resembles more a fully fledged media outlet rather then just a militant group.

Undoubtedly, Al-Zawahiri’s latest request requires pondering. Besides the vagueness in the methodology there is a communication paradox between leaders of Al-Qaeda movement and its supporters on one hand and the “opponents” of Al-Qaeda that monitor the groups every move in order to pinpoint the whereabouts of its members and its leadership in an admirable manner on the other!!!

A number of analysts have classified this step from Al-Zawahiri and the As-Sahab Foundation within the context of a media war between Washington and al-Qaeda, but in reality, this so-called media war is nothing but a tedious game by all parties involved, however it does bring up a bigger question; how can we believe that it is impossible to find the two most wanted men in the world, at a time when they are communicating with both their supporters and enemies?

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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