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Thread: Attacking the al Qaeda "Narrative"

  1. #1
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    Default Al Qaeda's information warriors

    The Times of London has a story from a trial of three al Qaeda ops who were disseminating info for al Qaeda in Iraq.

    Violent al-Qaeda propaganda, including footage of the beheading of hostages, was distributed around the globe by computer by young men sitting in their bedrooms in Britain, a court heard yesterday.

    Three men appeared before Woolwich Crown Court accused of inciting terrorism abroad. They were said to have a “close affiliation” with al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    Younis Tsouli, 23, Waseem Mughal, 24, and Tariq al-Daour, 21, allegedly played important roles in al-Qaeda’s “media war” and had massive quantities of films, audio recordings, books and documents promoting the extremist ideology of Osama bin Laden and global jihad.

    Among the footage found in police raids on their homes in London and Kent were films of the beheading of the British engineer Kenneth Bigley as well as the executions of American, Korean, Japanese, Egyptian, Iraqi, Turkish and Bulgarian hostages.

    The footage of Mr Bigley’s death was found in a computer file labelled “The throat slitting of the Briton who Blair and his people would not help”. Other video material showed him pleading for his life along with his fellow hostages, the Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong.

    Police also seized film of the beheadings in Iraq of the Americans Nick Berg and Paul Marshall Johnson Jr, and the murder in Pakistan of the US journalist Daniel Pearl. The videos contained scenes of hostages as their heads were severed.

    Other films found on the men’s computers or on discs in their rooms included footage of suicide attacks in Iraq, the video wills of “martyrs” and stylised productions eulogising the 9/11 hijackers.

    ...

    Mr Tsouli had a Powerpoint presentation entitled “carbom-bzip” and another file containing video clips of the World Bank building and the US Capitol in Washington DC and the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.

    A CD was found in the home of Mr Mughal containing a file giving instructions on how to make a suicide-bomb vest.

    Mr al-Daour had a CD file entitled “special course in manufacturing explosives”, a document with instructions for firing a rocket-propelled grenade and a data file, “The Mujahidin Explosives Handbook”.

    ...
    There is more at the link. I have comments on the group here.

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    Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 22 May 07:

    Al-Qaeda's Media Doctrine: Evolution from Cheerleader to Opinion-Shaper
    ...Since 1996, al-Qaeda's media operations have grown more sophisticated, pervasive and effective. From a media world in which al-Qaeda and other Islamist leaders repeatedly and simplistically urged Muslims to wage jihad "in God's path," emerged such sophisticated and multi-topic electronic journals as al-Ansar, al-Neda and Sawt al-Jihad. Today, al-Qaeda's media arm provides in-depth religious instruction for Muslims on the justifications for jihad that are found in the Quran, the sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad and Islamic history. Even using selective portions of scripture, al-Qaeda's scholars have fashioned a cogent religious foundation for waging a defensive jihad that has won support among tens of millions of Muslims, and especially among the young. Militants are now armed with religious arguments with which to match, and in their own minds trump, the anti-jihad arguments of those the West regards as "moderate" Muslims.

    Al-Qaeda also has developed what can only be judged as a spectacularly successful online university of strategy, tactics and training for guerrilla warfare and terrorist operations (www.alsakifah.org). In journals such as those mentioned above and others, al-Qaeda's analysts and strategists have developed a worldview that neatly fits the Islamists' struggle into the context of contemporary international relations, explaining why there are solid geopolitical reasons—such as status quo U.S. foreign policies in the Muslim world, and the West's dependence on Muslim oil and need to defend its access thereto—that make al-Qaeda's war aims of "bleeding America to bankruptcy" and "spreading out U.S. forces" attainable...

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    Council Member aktarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 22 May 07:

    Al-Qaeda's Media Doctrine: Evolution from Cheerleader to Opinion-Shaper
    I would say there are three reasons behind this:
    -spread of internet even to poorer regions. While not everybody has internet and computer in targeted areas there are enough of them for owner to get these tapes and either screen them for wider audience or copy them to VHS.
    -internet is harder to censor than traditional media so message (including video) can spread to countries where it would be hard to smuggle and distribute ordinary videos or print underground newspapers
    -with OEF AQ lost host country where they could operate freely. so if you can't teach recruits how to make and plant bombs etc you make instruction video. Not as effective but better than nothing
    -

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    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Default The Red Nosed Dragon. Debunking Muslim Terrorism.

    The general idea sustaining the following suggestion has been largely inspired by a mere statement counterterrorism expert Brian M. Jenkins made in Unconquerable Nation; Knowing our Enemy; Strenghtening Ourselves. In a chapter of this essay titled What Does Bin Laden Really Fear, the author wonders at some point:

    “What worries bin Laden the most?
    It is not death. Bin Laden exhorts others to martyrdom, and although he does not seek it himself, he has said several times that he will not be taken alive. Of course, one would hardly expect him to announce that, if cornered, he will meekly surrender. But for the past quarter-century, he has chosen a path of danger from which there is no return. We concede his willingness to face death.
    (….) For bin Laden, rejection and ridicule would be worse than death.
    (….) We in the West sometimes seem to pay more attention to bin Laden’s latest screeds than do those in the community he addresses. It is hugely entertaining for the Muslim world to watch the jihadist torment the tiger, but to many Muslims, even those angered by U.S. policies, bin Laden is a crackpot.”
    In this chapter Brian M. Jenkins identifies other sources of concerns for Bin Laden, but previous incidents and anecdotes tend to suggest that the aforementioned one applies not only to the Al Qaeda leader, but to Muslim terrorists and their organizations overall.

    Political and religious power relies overwhelmingly, and always, on universally acknowledged recognizance and on fear in numerous instances. That’s why one of its worst enemies is what any political or religious power fears the most in general: ridicule and discredit.

    On October 15, 1940, the famous American actor Charlie Chaplin released his first dialogue picture, The Great Dictator, a fearless satire of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. The Great Dictator had to become the most commercially successful film Charlie Chaplin ever made.

    The film was seen as an act of courage in the political environment of the time. Chaplin played the role of a Nazi-like dictator "Adenoid Hynkel," unmistakably modeled on Hitler. The names of the aides of Adenoid Hynkel are similar to those of Hitler. "Garbitsch" (pronounced "garbage"), the right hand man of Hynkel is very similar to that of Joseph Goebbels and Field Marshal "Herring" was clearly modelled after the Luftwaffe chief, Hermann Goering while beyond doubt the "Diggaditchie" of Bacteria, Benzino Napaloni, was modelled after Benito Mussolini.

    In The Great Dictator, the rally speech by Hynkel, delivered in German-sounding gibberish, is a superb caricature of Hitler's oratory style, which Chaplin studied carefully in newsreels.

    Coincidence make that, sixty seven years after the first release of The Great Dictator Al Qaeda’s doctrine is a syncretic creation that embraces and integrates elements drawn from Western revolutionary socialism and European nihilist antecedents. The notion that “the world can be transformed by terror is not a peculiarly Islamic aberration,” as John Gray, a British political philosopher and author, currently School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, has observed:

    “From the Jacobins through . . . the Baader-Meinhof gang, the modern West has spawned ideologies and movements that sanction the use of terror to make a better world. Even the Nazis . . . believed that they were creating a new and superior type of human being. However horrible their utopian vision, all these movements
    believed they could create a future better than anything that had existed in the past by the systematic use of violence. Al-Qa’ida has more in common with these modern Western experiments in terror than it does with anything in Islamic traditions”.
    Gray, John, Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern, London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 2003.

    Satire has been regularly used as weapon in all times of politics and warfare since it belongs to the realm of psychological warfare, but not as much as it could have been. The reason explaining this stems from mere deterrence since it is so easy to do to others what others do against you when it comes to mockery. Any government and any political leader are vulnerable to ridicule in one way or another since this form of propaganda can dearly undermine people’s confidence and obedience to authority. But what can do terrorists against that if we attack them thus way without attacking Islam and the Muslim world?

    At this regard the policy of the United States has been this of relative passivity and the U.S. Government, its institution and political leaders seldom strike back in a similar manner. If some foreign countries are consistent in their willingness to favor or discreetly fuel anti-Americanism or even varied slanderous acts of aggressive propaganda against U.S. Presidents, for example, then the United States has reacted with equal consistence in its unwillingness to size countless immediately available opportunities to strike back the same way.

    Is this passivity opportun when it comes to irrational violence? No, as the example of the film The Great Dictator shows us.

    When circumstances happen to be exceptionally compelling and are likely to gather the general approval of the public opinion, of an overwhelming majority of honest citizens whose security and freedom are seriously put in jeopardy at some point, then the recourse to exceptional methods is not only likely to gather general a general approval, but is even expected.

    That’s why the idea sustaining this post is to advocate the recourse to offensive psychological countermeasures against Muslim terrorism in general and against Al Qaeda in particular. Note that I say countermeasures since Muslim terrorism relies largely on internet and to the attention of the media to spread its propaganda and to emulate vocations. Those countermeasures would focus on undermining the generally perceived and admitted credit of Islamic terrorists and this of their cells and broader organizations, and more particularly of this of their infamous perpetrators and leaders. As previously suggested by Brian M. Jenkins in Unconquerable Nation the best option I would equally recommend consist simply of turning Muslim terrorism into ridicule so as to discredit it, on the one hand, and as a way of providing moral superiority, self confidence and strength to its victims, on the other hand.

    Terrorists and their leaders benefit of worldwide media coverage; that is to say superior to this many statesmen and movie star do. During the past 6 years Osama Bin Laden has enjoyed worldwide a media coverage close to this of the Pope, and far greater than people such as the Japanese Prime Minister or the German Chancellor. Almost each time Osama Bin Laden releases a speech it is immediately broadcasted worldwide.

    No matter how infamous they are considered by most of us Muslim terrorists have won exactly what they expected: notoriety and credit. An inquiry I made on July 2007 shows that Al Qaeda and its leader Ossama Bin Laden won huge notoriety. Looking for books and biographies on and of notorious person provides a hint of his notoriety in virtue of the law of the offer and demand. In the table bellow some popularly known persons picked up at random are ranked by the number of books found on Amazon.com in entering their name.

    Titles found on Amazon.com, July 2007.
    16 on George W. Bush
    15 on Pope Benedict XVI
    13 on Vladimir Putin
    10 on Tony Blair
    6 on Hu Jintao
    6 on Osama Bin Laden
    1 on the King of Jordan (Abdullah II).
    1 on Angela Merkel
    1 on Jacques Chirac
    0 on the King of Saudi Arabia (Abdullah bin Abdulaziz).


    Note that I am reasoning here in terms of notoriety, independently of the fact that this notoriety can be positive or not.

    When looking on Yahoo.com for the number of available entries relating to names of popularly know persons picked up at random provided the following results.

    Entries found on Yahoo.com. July 2007.
    377,000,000 Harry Potter
    124,000,000 Britney Spears
    77,900,000 Tony Blair
    63,200,000 George W. Bush
    38,400,000 Dick Cheney
    20,100,000 Angela Merkel
    19,800,000 Vladimir Putin
    19,700,000 Richard Reid (the “shoe bomber”)
    19,200,000 Kofi Annan (former UNO Secretary)
    18,800,000 Jacques Chirac
    16,500,000 Osama Bin Laden
    8,500,000 Yasser Arafat
    7,090,000 Lady Diana
    5,220,000 Ban Ki-moon (UNO Secretary)
    4,890,000 Benedict XVI
    4,110,000 Hu Jintao
    2,450,000 Abdullah II (King of Jordan)
    1,670,000 Zacarias Moussaoui (French Muslim terrorist of Morrocan origin)
    1,110,000 Mohamed Atta (9/11 hijacker)
    155,000 Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (King of Saudi Arabia)


    While taking a look at this ranking list we can notice that Ossama Bin Laden collects nearly three times more public interest than the General Secretary of the United Nations or the Pope Benedict XVI; four times more than the President of the Popular Republic of China. However, it is interesting to note than the Muslim terrorist Richard Reid (aka the “Shoe Bomber”) has largely beaten his spiritual leader, while Zaccarias Moussaoui and Mohamed Atta are well down the list, contrary to all guesses.

    Today, Islam and terrorism are promising commodities for authors and politicians in order to get reputation and recognition. But, regretfully, many studies about the good vs. bad publicity issue have shown that any publicity is good publicity.

    Richard Reid is the clown I would choose in my satire, owing to his particular physical features and to its authentic stupidity. He is the perfect dumb and he is so notorious already, as Yahoo.com testifies for.
    About Ossama Bin Laden, I would just name him "Overladen Bin."
    Last edited by Dominique R. Poirier; 08-03-2007 at 07:38 AM.

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    Council Member Nat Wilcox's Avatar
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    Default "Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?"

    "A: One...and it's not funny."

    This old, classic joke from the 70s plays exactly on what you are talking about Dominique. Having started my undergraduate education at one of the most left-wing campuses in the U.S. (Reed College), I encountered many extremely serious and perennially indignant militant types. I do remember well that the absolutely worst thing from their point of view was ridicule or any sort of humor directed at their own sense of high seriousness. And that happened to be a time in my life when I was only too happy to supply the required ridicule. This occasionally resulted in unpleasantness, even once having a heavy object hurled at my head.

    So I'm predisposed to agree with you that satire is an excellent pyschological weapon. Anyone using it against a target connected to Islam (whether the "real" kind or some "perversion" of it, a subject that is beyond me) would need to be very careful and "culturally sensitive" (god I hate that phrase but I guess we're stuck with it). I think of the Danish cartoons and George Bush's inadvertent use of the word "crusade" and so on, and shudder at how easily we in the West manage to pass the Law of Unintended Consequences over and over again. Still, more power to anyone who can wield satire with the required subtlety!

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    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Default The Red Nosed Dragon. Debunking Muslim Terrorism. (Part II)

    Nat,
    First of all, this long answer is nothing but a gathering of personal notes I previously wrote about that case. It shed light on the point you underline, but it is longer enough to fill two comments.

    Your point is correct about the Danish Cartoons, as it applies in the case of similar cartoons published by the French satitic newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Engaging into such propaganda action requires not attacking or criticizing Islamic religion, Muslims, and people of Arabic countries as well. I continue to argument my point bellow about this question, though, once more I do not have the feeling to be the author of a great idea since Brian M. Jenkins pointed his finger on this vulnerability first.

    Which advantages are to be found in retaliating against Muslim terrorism by way of offensive propaganda, and which can be the constraints we meet, possibly?

    Although Muslim terrorism happens to collect interest and relatively discreet assistance from certain foreign governments, on a case by case basis, terrorist cells and groups remain a non-state actor. It doesn’t exert any control over any nation and it doesn’t enjoy any form of assistance or judicial assistance from international organizations such as the U.N.O. or the UNESCO when it comes to media and culture spreading.

    Therefore, it cannot expect legal recourse and any of its possible claims about unfair propaganda attacks or similar reasons cannot be received. Equally, foreign countries expressing sympathy for the cause of Muslim terrorism can hardly legally retaliate on their behalf. At this regards the only likely exceptions to this rule at this time might be the Islamic Republic of Iran which has been regularly involved in Muslim terrorist operations worldwide since 1982 at least, and in insurgency in Iraq since the last three years, reportedly. But Iran has outlawed itself, owing to its non-respect of sanctions imposed by the U.N.O. and, as result of its reckless hostile behavior and policy Iran has lost much credibility on the international stage overall.

    It ensues that Al Qaeda in particular and any other Muslim terrorists in general, whichever the organization or group they belong to are, cannot expect any consideration, sympathy or legal recourse if ever they happened to be the target of an open and massively orchestrated hostile propaganda. This point provides the United States and its allies with certain advantage and comfort.

    In revenge, Muslim terrorist organizations are relatively well sheltered from hostile propaganda directed at them each time Muslim religion is mentioned or taken as cause of Muslim violence. This fact has been best exemplified by this we know today as the “Jyllands-Posten Muhammad Cartoons Controversy” (aka the Danish Cartoons affair).

    For the record, on September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve editorial cartoons, most of which depicted in a satiric manner the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
    Critics of the cartoons described them as Islamophobic or racist, and argue that they are blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith, intended to humiliate a Danish minority, or are a manifestation of ignorance about the history of western imperialism, from colonialism to the current conflicts in the Middle East.

    The controversy deepened when further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries. Ultimately, this led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence, including setting fire to the Norwegian and Danish Embassies in Syria, and the storming of European buildings and desecration of the Danish and German flags in Gaza City. While a number of Muslim leaders called for protesters to remain peaceful, other radical Muslim leaders across the globe, including Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas, issued death threats. Also, a consumer boycott was organized in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Middle East countries. During weeks, numerous notable demonstrations and other protests against the cartoons took place worldwide.

    On February 9, 2006, Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical political weekly newspaper published on its front page a cartoon of a weeping Prophet Muhammad saying “C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons” (“it's hard to be loved by jerks”). Compared to a regular circulation of 100,000 sold copies, this edition was a great commercial success. 160,000 copies were sold, and another 150,000 were in print later that day.

    Immediately alarmed by the possible consequences, as the previous incident of the cartoons published by the Jyllands-Posten suggested it, French President Jacques Chirac did choose to publicly condemn “overt provocations” which could inflame passions. “Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided,” the French President said.

    Soon, the Grand Mosque of France and the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) sued Charlie Hebdo, claiming the cartoon edition included racist cartoons. Philippe Val, Charlie Hebdo’s Publisher, retorted “It is racist to imagine that they can't understand a joke.” but Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the Grand Mosque, argued on the plane of the very Mulsim terrorist question that: “Two of those caricatures make a link between Muslims and Muslim terrorists. That has a name and it's called racism.

    On March 22, 2007, the French court finally acquited executive editor Philippe Val. The court followed the state attorney's reasoning that two of the three cartoons were not an attack on Islam, but on Muslim terrorists, and that the third cartoon with Mohammed with a bomb in his turban should be seen in the context of the magazine in question which attacked religious fundamentalism.

    The aforesaid examples show us the difficulties and constraints one may face when attempting to mock Islamist fundamentalism. If ever the United States decided to engage into psychological warfare against Muslim terrorism the way I recommend here, then there would be a more obvious need not to be vulnerable to retaliation on the ground of intolerance toward Islam and racism. But that’s not all.

    For, Arabs states are especially proud of their culture and common identity and any intrusive attempt of this sort I am proposing is likely to be misunderstood if not carefully prepared. The example of satellite broadcasting in Arabic countries enlightens us about this constraint since it is difficult to accurately circumvent the geographic scope of Arabic Muslim identity on Internet.

    Among the many international organizations or the bilateral initiatives of common exploitation of communication satellites, certain aim first and foremost at a political finality. This was the case of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (or NASCO, but also known as Arabsat). On the one hand, this satellite telecommunication system which operates five satellites platforms is in keeping with the Arab League to realize a large project whose aims are to express an Arabic cultural unity. But, inasmuch as the NASCO beams also on non-Arab Muslim countries in Africa and as far as on the Republic of Zaire, and on the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the Middle East, it is also perceived as a mean of unity between the Arabic Islam and the non-Arabic Islam. The goal of the NASCO is to secure the cultural independence of an Arabic identity in providing it with autonomous means in the domains of information and telecommunications as well.

    In Algeria, the opponents to satellite dishes defend that they represent “a tool of customs’ perversion” of the Islamic society. Algerian Muslim fundamentalists protest against what they see as an “enterprise of social subversion and cultural alienation that questions fourteen centuries of Muslim unity,” and which “throws at the face of the Maghrebin viewer a string of sacrileges: ostentatious mixing, promotion of alcohol, indecent attitudes, and provocative commercials.”
    All this give us a hint about the way the Muslim Arabic world may react to our possible attempt to interact thus way with it and it suggest to us to keep this parameter in mind.

    But at this last regard and about the question of freedom of opinion and information the position of the United States has always been consistent since it advocate the free utilization of satellites or the sake of communication and television broadcasting in arguing both legal arguments and political considerations.

    From a legal viewpoint, the United States remind the freedom of information as it is defined by the article 19 of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights of 1948 (UDHR). This text consecrates the internationalization of communication in granting to any individual “the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

    The United States equally underlined the free utilization of the extra-atmospheric space as declared in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
    On a political viewpoint, the United States has managed to make his viewpoint consistent in insisting on direct contact between people which guarantee the independence of the viewers facing the power of the State. This subscribes to a U.S. doctrine of the information at the service of people and not to this of governments.

    That’s why any attempt to discredit Muslim terrorists should resist the temptation to clearly associate it with unmistakable Muslim and Arabic features. But this apparently challenging constraint does not question the feasibility of my suggestion.
    Last edited by Dominique R. Poirier; 08-03-2007 at 07:46 AM.

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    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Default The Red Nosed Dragon. Debunking Muslim Terrorism. (Part III)

    But before explaining how we can discredit Muslim terrorists, I must underline a second constraint. As I explained while commenting the cases of the satiric cartoons on Muslim fundamentalism and intolerance, if there are ways to find compromises so as not to hurt the exacerbate sensibility of religious Muslims, then Muslim terrorists are much likely to look for retaliation if ever they feel that their honor and their cause are in jeopardy. This behavior is typical of this of the true believer in general and it especially applies about dedicated Muslim believers.

    That’s why Muslim fundamentalists are much more likely to attempt lethal retaliation against those who are identified as the authors of propaganda actions against them and their credo than Nazi were with Charlie Chaplin. This risk and the high probability of its happening prevent us from requesting the participation of famous actors and humorists, celebrities, filmmakers, artists, journalists, and other public persons likely to collect the interest of a large audience. Media, film companies, and movie theaters as well are equally concerned by this threat if ever they officially offer their collaboration in the frame of such undertakings.

    If ever a Jim Carrey or any other actor of the same breed is sincerely willing to walk on the steps of Charlie Chaplin it would be unwise to expect that famous actors and movie companies would take such risk, and put the life of their employees and customers at stake. That’s why all actions and works done in order to serve the goals and aims of the psychological operation I am suggesting have to be prepared and undertaken with suitable discretion.
    Since the media, authors, and private companies which can manufacture, promote, release, and market propaganda films and video, items and else are likely to be equally targeted by terrorists, then special provisions would have to be taken in these other cases too.

    As I said, thinking, designing, making and manufacturing steps have to be done with suited discretion, not to say secrecy. The authors and source must be elusive, preferably.

    When it comes to films and videos making, actors and figurants’ names should be nicknames, preferably. Make up and slight modifications of the physical features of those contributors would be equally commendable. Of course, those natural constraints do not arise in the case of cartoons, sketches, pamphlets, graphic design, special effects and photo montage, and other technical aspects of the works on a general basis since they are of unknown origin as soon as no one claims their paternity.

    The primary source of release and promotion should be Internet, preferably, which just happens to be the very primary source of release and promotion used by terrorists and their cells and organizations. This should easily allow suitable anonymity. Once films, video, pamphlets and sketches and other satiric items should be available online, then internet blogs, websites, web newspapers and magazines and other off-line media alike should run no risk in announcing and commenting their existence and the usual rumor and gossip will achieve the last step of each and every of these psychological actions. The role of the media is to act, wittingly or not, as a sound box, as some acoustic music instruments need a sound box to amplify the vibration of a string. This is common practice for the propaganda specialist.

    Is retaliation expected on such ground?

    Yes, possibly. But, once more, it will be harder for the opponent if the attacks do not make allusion to Islam, to religious Muslims and to a country or a civilization in particular. That’s the mistake Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and French newpaper Charlie Hebdo did; and in these cases the sanction happened that way.

    On February 6, 2006, Farid Mortazavi, graphics editor of Hamshahri, announced a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust, in response to the twelve cartoons published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten to challenge Western use of the Freedom of Speech.

    The twelve best contributions were to be rewarded with a golden coin each, which were later increased to $5000 to $12000 prizes for the top 3 cartoons and 3 gold coins each for 12 other cartoonists. Later, Hamshahri published an English introduction to the contest, as well as preliminary rules.

    In that introductory message for the contest, they denounced what they called Western hypocrisy on the freedom of speech, alleging that "it is impossible in the West to joke upon or even discuss certain topics related to Judaism, such as the Holocaust, and the pretexts for the creation of Israel."

    On February 14, 2006, the editor in chief of Hamshahri commented in Persian that "the purpose of establishing such a competition is not to offend or ridicule anyone, but to do a discussion about the realities of the Holocaust." He also indicated that Hamshahri tries really hard not to cause pain for anyone and also added that the newspaper has no contention with the Jews in Iran or any other place, but that it has problems with Zionism.

    Masood Shojaei, the director of Iran’s Caricature House which cosponsored the competition also said: "Iran’s Caricature House, as the only technically qualified center involved in the competition regards the holocaust topic as a terrible and saddening issue". The exhibition put on by The Iran Cartoon Organisation and Hamshahri newspaper opened on August 14, 2006.

    After the winners were announced in November 2006, Shojaei said the competition would become an annual event. The Associated Press quoted him as saying "Actually, we will continue until the destruction of Israel." Eventually, Shojaei categorically denied that he even spoke to the Associated Press reporter.

    We may notice that Iran took the initiative of this retaliation and that the feud stemmed from critics over the fact that Muslims and Islam were aimed at; not terrorism or extremist Islamism, even though it was clearly what the Danish cartoonists had in mind.
    Last edited by Dominique R. Poirier; 08-03-2007 at 12:34 PM.

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    Council Member Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
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    (….) For bin Laden, rejection and ridicule would be worse than death.
    This is why I love Brian Jenkins. The man is one of the few wired in old school experts around.
    Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Social Theatre

    Hi Dominique,

    The entire area of social theatre is a really interesting one. You mentioned that people would be afraid of the possible danger, and that is true. On the other hand, we have seen some examples of anti-irhabi theatre appearing already. Here's one of the funiest:

    I wanna be like Osama

    There are other examples as well, such as Little Mosque on the Prairie that played on CBC and is up on YouTube.

    The trick with social theatre is to correctly identify a) the audience and b) the goal. For example, Little Mosque was aimed at reducing tensions in Canada, not at stopping the irhabis.

    The trick in understanding the audience is in making sure that the humour fits the culture. This problem really showed up in the recent (2005) attempt to market The Simsons in the Arab world.

    BTW, back in the early 40's Radcliffe-Brown published a couple of articles on "joking relationships" which led to an understanding that almost all humour is based on structural faults in a culture / society.

    On Joking Relationships
    A. R. Radcliffe-Brown
    Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jul., 1940), pp. 195-210
    doi:10.2307/1156093
    This article consists of 16 page(s).
    View Article Abstract
    Available here on JSTOR (requires login)

    A Further Note on Joking Relationships
    A. R. Radcliffe-Brown
    Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Apr., 1949), pp. 133-140
    doi:10.2307/1156517
    This article consists of 8 page(s).
    View Article Abstract
    Available here on JSTOR (requires login)
    Probably the best work done in the area was by Victor Turner (e.g. the Anthropology of Performance and From Ritual to Theatre) and by him with Richard Scheckner (Between Theatre and Anthropology).

    On a more pragmatic level, I think that the "danger" factor is more from the extreme PC crowd than from the irhabis. The reactions you noted about the cartoon affair being termed "racist" - which is semanticaly ridiculous; Islam is a religion not a "race" (whatever that may be!) - are quite likely to be brought up. "Racism" and "sexism" being the two current high cards in victim poker.

    Honestly, if I was setting up a satire campaign, I would have two aim points in mind: the irhabis who slaughter people and the "race industry" who tell everyone that this is just an historical "correction of grievances against the imperialist West".

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  10. #10
    Council Member Nat Wilcox's Avatar
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    "Racism" and "sexism" being the two current high cards in victim poker
    hee hee hee.

  11. #11
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Just a quick update...

    Jihad: the Musical, has a download page with two of the songs in mp3 format. It is currently playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until August 26th or a fatwa appears.

    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  12. #12
    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Marc,
    thank you very much for your renewed interest and contribution. I sincerely appreciate it.

    I think that there is a good deal of creativity and talent in both songs whose style inescapably remind us of certain old American musical movies and English Music Hall style of good quality.

    It might be a good start!

    Though I have personal good reasons to enjoy the second song, Turned and Ran, I was just wondering whether it is timely to attack the French on that ground. For, here in France appearances suggest that the new French president Nicolas Sarkozy is favorable to a taw in the diplomatic relations and exchanges with the United States.
    Coincidence makes that he is vacationing in the New Hamphsire at this time and all those who are interested in diplomacy can learn more about that at the following link:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/03/wo...3vacation.html

    Once more I put aside my personal opinions for a while to say, as a matter of fact, that as long as we are unable (if ever, of course) to correctly evaluate the sincerity of Nicolas Sarkozy then it would be suitable to encourage such a surprising and unexpected expression of good will.
    However, I have some reasons for to think that Sarkozy’s move might not gather general satisfaction within the ranks of the French military and spooks.

    If ever he is sincere he must feel very alone, sometimes…

    Back to the matter at hand, I can confess that I had some ideas in mind when I worked on that idea. I thought for a while about Homer Simpson as terrorist hunter. But the most attractive I found was something such as a team of two: "Overladen Bin" playing the sinister boss with his inseparable dumb lieutenant Richard Reid, aka the "Shoe Bomber," who unwillingly and lamentably always sabotages all missions and plots, owing to the repeated blunders he does.
    Pretty sure there are talented scenarists and gagmen who should be able to make something burlesque with that.
    Well, that’s what my 15 years of professional experience in communication and advertising suggest to me.
    Last edited by Dominique R. Poirier; 08-04-2007 at 06:54 PM.

  13. #13
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Default Some people just can't take a joke!

    Well, humor is ingrained in OUR society. One of the first weapons used by Americans after 911 was making fun of the morons that caused this one on us. We have been doing this ever since. In my opinion we have a "society" of our own. If "they" don't like than that is just tough ####. Humor is a great weapon. Especially, in today's war against terror.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tqtpfq6OJ9A
    "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way?"
    "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn't I?"


  14. #14
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    It almost begs for something along the lines of the "terrorists" in Monty Python's "Life of Brian." Who can forget the "Judean Peoples' Front" and their "crack suicide squad"?

    Seriously, I can see some really funny ways that we could get after these people. Sadly, due to those high cards in "victim poker" I have to say that the mainstream media leadership lacks the testicular fortitude to do it.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  15. #15
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Dominique,

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique R. Poirier View Post
    Marc,
    thank you very much for your renewed interest and contribution. I sincerely appreciate it.
    No worries, mate . I've just been tied up with work recently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique R. Poirier View Post
    I think that there is a good deal of creativity and talent in both songs whose style inescapably remind us of certain old American musical movies and English Music Hall style of good quality.
    I'd certainly agree with that! Itis an English production, which might account for the music hall style, as well as the comments about the French. I played the video for my wife last night and she commented that it reminded her of Monty Python.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique R. Poirier View Post
    Back to the matter at hand, I can confess that I had some ideas in mind when I worked on that idea. I thought for a while about Omer Simpson as terrorist hunter. But the most attractive I found was something such as a team of two: "Overladen Bin" playing the sinister boss with his inseparable dumb lieutenant Richard Reid, aka the "Shoe Bomber," who unwillingly and lamentably always sabotages all missions and plots, owing to the repeated blunders he does.
    Pretty sure there are talented scenarists and gagmen who should be able to make something burlesque with that.
    Well, that’s what my 15 years of professional experience in communication and advertising suggest to me.
    It has possibilities . I would add in a few other twists. For example, apparently the old Northern Alliance in Afghanistan is convinced that OBL is either working with or controlled by a djinn. This opens up a whole new twist - a farcical version of Faust comes to mind. Then again, I have always had a vicious sense of humour .

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  16. #16
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Steve,

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    It almost begs for something along the lines of the "terrorists" in Monty Python's "Life of Brian." Who can forget the "Judean Peoples' Front" and their "crack suicide squad"?

    Seriously, I can see some really funny ways that we could get after these people. Sadly, due to those high cards in "victim poker" I have to say that the mainstream media leadership lacks the testicular fortitude to do it.
    Yeah. Then again, I don't think that the MSM is the best way to get this type of message out. I'd recommend a multi-front attack: stage shows, movies, cable, anime, youtube, graphic novels, CD games, etc. Since we agree on the Montey Python-esque quality required, maybe the entire civ-mil project should be handed over to the (soon to be created) Her Majesties Royal Comic Corps.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  17. #17
    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Default As an aside.

    A bit for fun, and just to imagine what the couple "Overladen Bin" and "Richard the Raider" might look like I managed to Photoshop something that night.

    Here is the link (not sure it will work for long):
    http://server5.pictiger.com/img/1226...dc83e33.th.jpg
    Last edited by Dominique R. Poirier; 08-04-2007 at 11:23 PM.

  18. #18
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    It almost begs for something along the lines of the "terrorists" in Monty Python's "Life of Brian." Who can forget the "Judean Peoples' Front" and their "crack suicide squad"?

    Seriously, I can see some really funny ways that we could get after these people. Sadly, due to those high cards in "victim poker" I have to say that the mainstream media leadership lacks the testicular fortitude to do it.
    Suicide Squad Leader: We are the Judean People's Front crack suicide squad! Suicide squad, attack!
    [they all stab themselves]
    Suicide Squad Leader: That showed 'em, huh?
    Too funny!
    "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way?"
    "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn't I?"


  19. #19
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique R. Poirier View Post
    A bit for fun, and just to imagine what the couple "Overladen Bin" and "Richard the Raider" might look like I managed to Photoshop something that night.
    Definitely too funny, Dominique ! The next step, of course, would be to turn it into a YouTube serial.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  20. #20
    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Definitely too funny, Dominique ! The next step, of course, would be to turn it into a YouTube serial.

    Marc
    Oh sure! I don't doubt it might be a success, the way I imagine it. But, that's beyond the realm both of my possibilities and competencies...

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