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Saudi Arabia: Proposal to Set up Centre to Combat Al Qaeda’s Media Activities | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The first National Conference on Intellectual Security to take place in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh discussed the proposal of establishing a media centre similar to the Al Qaeda affiliated Al-Fajr media in order to combat it. The proposal was submitted by Dr. Ahmed al Mawkali in order to combat the Al Qaeda affiliated Al-Fajr media, which was established in February 2006 following the birth of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq.

Dr. al Mawkali, who is conducting research into how Al Qaeda operates via the internet, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that there had been a change in Al Qaeda’s standard operating procedures three years ago after the various organizations that produced and distributed Al Qaeda media content unified their efforts. These media organizations are comprised of seven institutes.

In the research that he presented to the conference on its second day, al Mawkali said “the war – as it is described by the Al Qaeda leadership – is no longer confined to the Kalashnikov rifle and Katyusha missiles. This has become a media war.” Al Mawkali also quoted Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahiri, who once said that fifty percent of this war takes place in the media.

There are seven media institutes that promote the activities of the Al Qaeda organization; this includes organizations operating on the Arab peninsula, Iraq, and the Islamic Maghreb. These include; the Islamic magazine Voice of Jihad, Al Sahab media, the media wing of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the media wing of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Sada al-Malahim media, the Global Islamic Media Front, and Al-Furqan media.

According to Dr. al Mawkali, the aforementioned media organizations unified under the umbrella of the Al-Fajr media center in February 2006. The Al-Fajr media center receives material from its affiliates, performs the necessary editing and production of this material before distributing it at the appropriate time.

Dr. Ahmed al Mawkali also called for the recognition of what he described as Al Qaeda’s media success, saying that we have to learn from this experience, which can be achieved once his proposition is approved. Al Mawkali’s proposition is to “establish a media centre comprised of student groups who will respond to Al Qaeda’s [media] releases and refute them…under the supervision of specialists.”

Al Mawkali stressed the importance of this proposal in order to confront the momentum that Al Qaeda had built with regards to the media. He also stressed that in one month of 2007 alone Al Qaeda issued 195 media releases – an extremely high figure.

This confirms the importance of instituting al Mawkali’s proposal of a media centre in order to keep pace with and respond to events in a timely manner. Al Mawkali gave an example of the operations of this proposed media centre, saying that a documentary film on Saudi Arabian efforts to serve the Palestinian Cause could be issued in response to Osama Bin Laden’s statements on the recent events in Gaza.

Dr. Majid al Majid, President of Dawa Media, presented a similar idea to that of Dr. al Mawkali’s. Al Majid proposed “a specialized centre for observing the media; strictly following up on everything that is published with regards to Saudi affairs, as well as statements made by extremists and fanatics that attempt to recruit youth and exploit them to fight against their own country and community. Then prepare appropriate and objective responses [to this] supported by evidence and reason.”