Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Islamist Internet Forums assist in the terrorist attacks:

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    Friday, June 08, 2007

    Islamist Internet Forums assist in the terrorist attacks:

    An analysis of the postings on Islamist forums reveals that Islamists monitor the Western media for information that has immediate operational implications for the jihad fighters on the battlefield, namely, information that can increase their effectiveness or can help them to identify potential targets and threats. The following are examples of postings alerting the mujahideen to Western news reports of this sort.

    Battle Field OSINT:
    A message titled "Attention Anyone Who Carries a Sniper Rifle," posted November 3, 2006 on the forum, called attention to a Spiegel TV show which discussed, among other things, a new acoustic device of American manufacture intended for use against snipers in Iraq.(2) The message explained that the device "includes several microphones that allow the soldiers in the Hummer to determine the location from which a shot was fired... [and thus to pinpoint] the mujahid's position." In response to the message, a forum participant advised the mujahideen to "use silencers, or to take advantage of some background noise [by] firing the shot when the noise occurs and thus camouflaging its sound."(3)

    On April 4, 2007 a member of the Islamist forum described an Internet TV broadcast in which U.S. soldiers recounted their experiences in Iraq. One of the soldiers, said the message, "told of an [incident] in which a tank convoy discovered an ambush [laid by mujahideen]... American tanks carry a set of rockets which can be controlled from inside the tank using miniature cameras [mounted on] the rockets themselves. These cameras provide the soldiers inside the tank with a view of the outside... The soldier [on the program] said that, [during a patrol in Iraq], he had spied two people hiding behind low barrier and attempting to fire a rocket, but that he had managed to fire... first. His report was accompanied by... sketches indicating the [exact] angle from which he saw the two mujahideen who were lying in wait for him." The message went on to provide analysis and advice: "The barrier behind which the two [mujahideen] hid seemed to be slightly less than one meter tall, which would have been sufficient to hide a person from [an observer] at eye level. However, since the cameras... [mounted] on the tank are higher than that, they enabled [the soldiers] to see the two people... [Hence, mujahideen] should make sure that their cover... is sufficiently tall to conceal them from those cameras... [When they select a location for an ambush], one of them [should] stand on a truck or on the roof of a car in order to verify that the cover is tall enough..."(4)

    The mujahideen give high priority to reports on collaboration between U.S. counter-terrorism agencies and Arab governments. For example, a May 11, 2007 posting on reported, citing a Washington Examiner article, that a group of U.S. Marines and intelligence experts had been dispatched to Algeria to help the local authorities fight terrorism. The message also stressed that the Pentagon has decided to allocate more funds in 2008 for the training special forces that will be sent to help fight terrorism in North Africa, West Africa and the Sahara regions.(7)

    Assessing the Immediate Impact of an Ultimatum: The Case of the GIMF's Ultimatum to Germany and Austria

    PSY OPS:

    On March 11, 2007 the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) issued an ultimatum to Germany and Austria to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, threatening that failure to do so will expose them to attacks by the mujahideen.(8) After the publication of this ultimatum, Islamists monitored the German and Austrian media for indications of its impact. A message posted on the Islamist forum on March 12, 2007, one day after the issuing of the ultimatum, presented the following statements by the spokesman of the German Chancellor, cited from the German website "The German government takes such threats seriously... [Chancellor] Angela Merkel has established a hotline to the German security agencies to discuss possible attacks..." The posting also cited the Austrian Interior Minister, who said, according to the online newspaper, that "Austria will not bow down in the face of these terrorist groups which threaten to attack [it]..."(9)

    A few days later, Islamists discerned signs that German public opinion may be caving to the ultimatum. On March 22, a posting titled "Following the GIMF message... Most Germans Demand the Withdrawal of Their Troops from Afghanistan" appeared on .(10) The message presented the results of a March 17, 2007 poll conducted by, which found that 57% of the German people favor the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan.(11)

    Gauging the Effect of the Iraq War on U.S. Officials and the American Public


    Aside from assessing the impact of isolated events like the GIMF ultimatum, Islamists have been following Western media to see how the daily clashes with the mujahideen in Iraq and elsewhere affect U.S. politics and public opinion. Below are two examples:

    On March 11, 2007, the forum posted a message titled "Poll: Americans Confirm Their Troops' Defeat in Iraq."(12) The message cited a Zogby poll in which over 50% of participants said that U.S. troops had failed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The message stated that "the poll was conducted in the shadow of the continuing collapse of the American occupier's army, [which is yielding to] the surge of the Islamic resistance operations in these two countries."

    A March 28, 2007 posting on the forum emphasized that the U.S. House of Representatives had refused to approve the war funding bill without a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.(13) The message ended with the following call to the mujahideen: "Make [your] attacks on them more intensive in the months before their withdrawal... They have not [yet] received [a big enough] part of the punishment they deserve for the crime they committed against the umma's rights... Let history record that an army entered [Iraq] but did not [manage to] leave."

    In contrast, an April 27, 2007 posting cited the a report from the U.S. military daily Stars and Stripes (, that U.S. troops currently training in Morocco are expected to be sent to Iraq in 2008. The posting stated, "This is indisputable proof that American occupying forces are determined to stay in Iraq for a long time, despite the rising... opposition [in the U.S.] to their lingering [in that country], and [despite] the demand to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq." (14)

    Gauging the Effect of the War on U.S. and British Troops


    Any report reflecting the direct impact of the war in Iraq on the Coalition troops is immediately posted and receives much attention on Islamist forums. A prominent example is a report, attributed to CNN, posted on The report cited a medical study which found a persistent rise in the number of U.S. soldiers who commit suicide upon their return from Iraq. The posting also stressed the fact that, according to the study, more than 1,300 British soldiers who returned from Iraq between January 2003 and September 2005 suffered from depression and other psychological problems.(15)

    Efforts to Shape Public Opinion in the West: Alerting Islamists to Western Public Opinion Polls and Urging Them to Participate in Them

    Islamists also keep an eye on Western media with the aim of finding ways to directly affect and shape Western public opinion. A case in point is a February 4, 2006 posting which alerted forum members to an online poll, conducted by MSNBC, on the question "Are Muslims justified in staging worldwide protests over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad?"(16) The posting called on Islamists to take the poll and vote yes, in order "to assist our brothers in Europe... by increasing their influence."(17) A message posted November 23, 2003 urged forum members to participate in another online poll by MSNBC, and to vote no on the question: "Would you support a legal ban on burqas and other face-covering clothing?"(18)

    Citing Information Depicting Western Society as Corrupt

    Islamists view their military conflict with the West and its Arab allies as a part of a much broader, eternal, struggle between "good" and "evil," or between "truth" and "falsehood" – a conflict that, they believe, will culminate in the Apocalypse. To reinforce the image of the West as "evil," Islamists comb the Western media for information reflecting its "immoral" and "wicked" nature.

    Other world powers are not countering these efforts.
    And they seem to be winning the INFO/PROPAGANDA EFFORT.


    SOURCE memri:

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