Middle East Times – June 3 2005 – AFP
Zarqawi.com: radical Islamists use Internet to spread jihad
While he calls for a return to the Islam founded in the seventh-century, his communication methods are up-to-the-minute. Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, turns to the Internet to spread his message of jihad, or holy war. In audio messages transmitted online, a voice claiming to be Zarqawi takes responsibility for attacks in Iraq, makes threats, comments on the news and speaks to the American people. In Monday’s message, which CIA analysts believe was authentic, Zarqawi addressed Al Qaeda’s global leader, Osama Bin Laden. Zarqawi acknowledged reports that he had been lightly wounded but said that he was still fighting with the insurgents to drive the US-led coalition out of Iraq.
The rebel leader, who tops the US most-wanted list in Iraq with a $25-million reward on his head, is hounded by the American forces. Still, Zarqawi eludes capture and maintains a capacity for organization and communication, according to experts. « The jihadists in general and Zarqawi in particular use technology very efficiently, » said Alain Chouet, a former French intelligence agent. « They use the Internet on a daily basis; it’s integral » to their operation, he said.
Rita Katz, who heads the SITE Institute in Washington that specializes in surveillance and translates Islamist Websites, said that « on a daily basis we have four to 10 messages from Al Qaeda in Iraq. It is not a one-man job. There is no doubt in my mind that he has a team of talented people doing that. » It is easy to send an e-mail message to Zarqawi and get a response. « We have translated many examples of that. His interaction on the Internet is amazing, » Katz said. (,,,)
Some experts, nevertheless, warn against the risks of falsification and manipulation by Internet enthusiasts.
According to Alain Bauer, a French criminologist and co-author of The Al Qaeda Enigma, says that most of the Websites are fake. « Since the beginning of the Iraq war, there has been a profusion of Websites making more or less strange demands, » he said. Bauer also noted that Al Qaeda has become « a sort of franchise name » that different groups use because « it is easier for Westerners to understand ». « It is the efficient use of propaganda. »