Al-Qaeda Supporters: Surge Of Al-Qaeda Media Activity Demonstrates Revived Spirit; AQ Will Fight U.S. Worldwide After Taliban 'Victory' In Afghanistan

print
July 22, 2021

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

In July 2021, numerous outlets belonging to Al-Qaeda's central media and its worldwide affiliates released videos, audio messages, and written statements. Among the material released were two videos by Al-Qaeda's central media outlet, As-Sahab. A video released on July 15, 2021, discusses Al-Qaeda's response to France's perceived insults to Islam, such as the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. A second video, released on July 20, asserts that the U.S. is on the verge of collapse and is headed toward civil war.[1]

The above banner announces the release of the As-Sahab video, "America Burns."

In addition, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video on July 14 documenting the group's attacks on the Ansar Allah Shi'ite militant group, also known as the Houthis, in Yemen, while Al-Qaeda's affiliate in the Sahel, Jama'at Nusrat Al-Islam Wal-Muslimeen (Group for Support of Islam and Muslims – GSIM), released a video on July 16 featuring captive Malian soldiers begging their government to negotiate their release.[2]

The official media outlets of several Al-Qaeda affiliates released Eid Al-Adha messages from their leaders addressing locals and fighters. Somalia-based Harakat Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabab) released an audio recording of a message from the group's leader, Abu Ubaydah Ahmad 'Umar; Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Movement of the Pakistani Taliban – TTP) published a statement from its leader, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud; the Kashmir-based Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH) similarly published a statement from its leader, Ghazi Khalid Ibrahim; and Gaza-based Jaysh Al-Ummah Al-Salafi released a video featuring its leader, Abu Hafs Al-Maqdisi, congratulating the Afghan Taliban on its recent "conquests."[3]

Al-Qaeda supporters noted the surge in media activity. On July 21, prominent Al-Qaeda supporter Warith Al-Qassam provided a list of ten official Al-Qaeda-affiliated media outlets and nine unofficial media groups which had released material in recent days. The official media outlets are Al-Qaeda Central Command's As-Sahab; Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's (AQIM) Al-Andalus; AQAP's Al-Malahem; GSIM's Az-Zallaqa; Al-Shabab's Al-Kataib; AGH's Al-Hurr; Syrian affiliate Hurras Al-Din's Sham Al-Ribat; the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's (the Afghan Taliban) Al-Hijrat; Jaysh Al-Ummah's Al-Rayah; and TTP's 'Umar Media. The nine pro-Al-Qaeda media groups that recently released material are Nasher Al-Khayr, the Thabat News Agency, the French-language outlet Al-Kifah, Bayt Al-Maqdis publishers, Somalia-based Al-Thughour, the Al-Fath Center, Jaysh Al-Malahem Al-Electroni (The Electronic Army of Epic Battles), poster designer 'Abd Al-Rahman, and Al-Mihbarah.[4]

The above Telegram post shared by Al-Qaeda supporter Warith Al-Qassam lists ten official Al-Qaeda-affiliated media outlets which released material in late July 2021.

In a July 21 Telegram post, pro-Al-Qaeda channel Qal'at Al-Jihad ("The Fortress of Jihad") asserts that the upsurge in media releases from official Al-Qaeda outlets is letting the U.S., France, and other enemies know that the organization remains active despite apparent setbacks.[5] The references in the post to the deaths of commanders may hint at persistent rumors about the death of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, which the post does not deny.[6]

The above post from pro-Al-Qaeda Telegram channel Qal'at Al-Jihad celebrates recent Al-Qaeda media releases as demonstrating the revival of the organization's media.

In a post titled, "The Sun of Al-Qaeda Shines Again," a supporter writes that after a period of "relative calm," Al-Qaeda's media has experienced a "revival and awakening." He claims that despite being threatened by more extreme rival groups, such as the Islamic State (ISIS), or more moderate groups like Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), and despite the deaths of dozens of its commanders, Al-Qaeda remains strong.

The Telegram post attributes the recent uptick in media activity to the current Eid Al-Adha festival, claiming that since the days of jihadi forums Al-Hisbah, Al-Ikhlas, and Al-Fallujah in the first decade of the 21st century, there has not been such a coordinated effort by multiple Al-Qaeda-affiliated media outlets as there was during this Eid season. According to the Al-Qaeda supporter, this media activity is a resounding message to "the heads of world unbelief, headed by America, France, and the Crusader Coalition" that Al-Qaeda "is still well, and it will return again to confront your tyranny and show you its great strength."

The supporter summarizes the message sent by Al-Qaeda's various branches as constituting a declaration that "the branches of the organization are one body." Qal'at Al-Jihad claims that these media outlets have initiated a "new policy," namely "focusing on da'wah [preaching] to the entire ummah [Islamic nation]; defending the oppressed, wherever they are and from all places; and shifting to globalism in its planning and targeting, militarily and in the media." Referencing the terms of the recent agreement between the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban, to which Al-Qaeda has pledged allegiance, he writes: "Although you have forbidden targeting you in Afghanistan, the whole world is Afghanistan. If you have targeted our commanders, all of our followers are commanders."

The Al-Qaeda supporter analyzes the As-Sahab videos "An Unpardonable Crime" and "America Burns," which focus on France and the U.S., respectively, as sending a clear message to "unify efforts and strike America and its allies, the supporters of so-called democracy and flimsy freedom of expression, in the country and abroad."

Celebrating the Taliban's achievements which forced the U.S. to negotiate a settlement, the supporter writes: "The Taliban's star is rising and the sun of Al-Qaeda shines again. If the Taliban gained victory over America in Afghanistan after a war lasting twenty years, Al-Qaeda was victorious by striking the center of unbelief, America, and toppling the awe in which it was held, twenty years ago."

Claiming that "the media of Aal Saloul [a pejorative term for the Saudi regime] and [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi […] fawn over the Americans and kiss their hands" and that HTS leader Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani now "wears Western clothes, disavows any enmity toward the Crusaders, repents from hating America, and courts its friendship," Qal'at Al-Jihad asserts that only the Al-Qaeda media, "which robs the CIA of sleep since the raids of September 11," continues to declare its enmity for the U.S.

In a post dated July 22, Qal'at Al-Jihad writes that the As-Sahab video "America Burns" is "the best example of the style of media and political discourse which the American government and people understand," and advises other supporters to watch and forward the video.[7]

It should be noted that although an impressive number of Al-Qaeda-affiliated media outlets have released timely material recently, most of these media groups belong to the organization's various branches across the Islamic world. Only two videos were released by Al-Qaeda's central media outlet, As-Sahab, neither of which discusses recent events. One of them, "An Unpardonable Crime," refers to events which occurred several months ago, while the other, "America Burns," is a video version of the editorial published in April 2021 in the Arabic-language Ummah Wahidah (One Ummah) magazine, which was itself a reworking of a June 2020 editorial from the English-language One Ummah magazine. It is unclear whether the recently-released material by Al-Qaeda affiliates was coordinated by the organization's central media apparatus or was planned individually by each affiliate to mark Eid Al-Adha.

 

[4] Telegram, July 21, 2021.

[5] Telegram, July 21, 2021.

[7] Telegram, July 22, 2021.

The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

Read More