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memri
August 17, 2011 No.
724

Al-Qaeda, Jihadis Infest the San Francisco, California-Based 'Internet Archive' Library

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Background on the Internet Archive (archive.org)
  • How Al-Qaeda and Other Jihadis Utilize the Internet Archive Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Web Forums Instruct Readers in Use of Internet Archive
  • Recent Examples of Al-Qaeda's Use of the Internet Archive
  • The English-Language Jihadi Forum Ansarullah Posts on the Internet Archive Hidden Encryption Details For Readers to Communicate with Al-Qaeda
  • The Online Jihadi Media Group Nukhbat Al-Jihadi Utilizes the Internet Archive

Introduction

As part of their online media strategy, jihadi groups have in recent years begun using Western websites and technologies – uploading videos to YouTube,[1] "tweeting" news flashes from the jihadi fronts, and even creating official Facebook pages.[2] Jihadis have come to depend on free web hosting, where content, including large videos, can be uploaded anonymously and at no cost. Most recently, however, jihadi groups are invading the Internet Archive.

Background on the Internet Archive (archive.org)

Founded in 1996, the Internet Archive (www.archive.org) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization whose stated mission is "universal access to all knowledge." The Internet Archive is recognized by the state of California as a library, and is a member of the American Library Association. According to its website, its purposes include "offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. The Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages."[3]

Multiple U.S. government agencies, including NASA, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institute, collaborate with the Internet Archive,[4] and, according to a Washington Post report, federal prosecutors, the FBI and CIA "frequently" use it.[5]

How Al-Qaeda and Other Jihadis Utilize the Internet Archive

Besides the U.S. government, Al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups are continually and increasingly using the Internet Archive to spread their propaganda/recruitment messages, including video and audio recordings of speeches, attacks, publications, and much more. They often include content encouraging, and urging, terrorist attacks against America. It can be assumed that Al-Qaeda-related material was first posted to the Internet Archive for legitimate research purposes, but that at some point Jihadis discovered that it was an accessible website that they can easily use for their online jihad campaign.

Content is uploaded to and downloaded from the Internet Archive by jihadis daily. To use the Internet Archive, users must first create an account and receive a virtual library card – but to do that, a valid email address is enough.[6]

Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Web Forums Instruct Readers in Use of Internet Archive

Many Al-Qaeda-affiliated websites now include links to Archive.org with posts of new material online – including the most recent speeches by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, speeches by Osama bin Laden, and other productions by Al-Qaeda's Al-Sahab media company. This content is often reposted on other websites. Members of the leading jihadi forums frequently instruct their readers to use the Internet Archive; for example, on July 20, 2011, a member of the major jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam gave readers detailed steps for uploading material there.[7]

On August 1, 2011, Shumoukh Al-Islam announced the opening of an online course for using Rapidleech, a script that allows users to share files using various online hosts. The offer of a course on this subject signifies how vital online jihadi activity, using techniques and websites such as the Internet Archive and YouTube, actually is to recruitment and indoctrination efforts among Western Muslim communities.

The announcement of the course reads: "My brothers, surely you are aware of the importance of uploading the mujahideen's productions to the [Internet] Archive [Archive.org], YouTube, and other uploading sites, seeing that the links to the mujahideen's original productions have been deactivated... Therefore, our duty as supporters of the mujahideen is to re-upload these productions to Archive.org and other [such websites]. Seeing that the task of uploading requires extensive knowledge of the Rapidleech script, and we have noticed that the talent of uploading is limited to a small number of brothers; and since we have seen the love of learning on the part of many of the brothers here, whether learning how to upload to Archive.org or to YouTube, or to use the Rapidleech script; and seeing that this knowledge must be entrusted to the next generations – since we won't remain here at our computers but join the caravans of the mujahideen, Allah willing – we thought it proper to pass this knowledge on to secure hands to be entrusted with the safeguarding of the mujahideen's legacy from destruction."

The online course is to be conducted throughout the month of Ramadan, and is limited to 30 students.[8]

When Al-Qaeda's media wing Al-Sahab posts content on its web forums, it is simultaneously posted to the Internet Archive. For example, on July 27, 2011, Al-Sahab published a seven-minute video by new Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.[9] When the video was posted by Al-Qaeda to its main websites, including Shumoukh and Ansar Al-Islam, it appeared the same day on Archive.org and YouTube.

Below is an image of a YouTube page[10] with the Zawahiri video; extensive details can be seen highlighting links to the Internet Archive and jihadi forums.

Recent Examples of Al-Qaeda's Use of the Internet Archive

Other content posted by Al-Qaeda on the Internet Archive includes English translations of important content from its affiliated groups that it seeks to distribute to larger audiences. The following are recent examples of other Al-Qaeda publications released directly on the Internet Archive.

AMEF Video Showing Killing Of Members of President Obama's National Security Team

On July 21, 2011, Ansar Al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF) posted an English translation of an Al-Malahem Media video titled "Among Them Is He Who Has Fulfilled His Vow," by Sheikh Abu Hurairah as-Sana'ani, on the Internet Archive.[11] The introduction to the video includes the now-iconic image of the Situation Room, with President Obama viewing video footage of the raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, together with his security team: Vice President Joseph Biden; Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen; National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon; White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley; and National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper Jr. In the AMEF video, an animated flying sword appears and lands on Brig. Gen. Marshall B. Webb.

AQAP English-Language Online Magazine Inspire – Issue 6[12]

On July 18, 2011, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) media wing Al-Malahem released the sixth issue of the English-language Jihadi magazine Inspire.

Al-Qaeda Statement: Al-Zawahiri to Succeed Bin Laden as Al-Qaeda Emir

On June 16, 2011, Al-Qaeda's central command released a statement declaring Ayman Al-Zawahiri its new leader.[13]

Al-Qaeda Al-Sahab Video Reiterates: Carry Out One-Man Jihad Operations in the West[14]

On June 3, 2011, jihadi websites posted a two-part video – the first part 55 minutes long and the second 45 minutes long – produced by Al-Qaeda's Al-Sahab media company and titled "Do Not Rely on Others, Take [the Task] Upon Yourself." This video is another illustration of an emerging strategy, which has become apparent since the release of the second issue of Al-Qaeda's English-language online magazine Inspire, of relying on the Muslim communities in the West and laying the burden of jihad in the West on their shoulders.

AQIM Swears Allegiance to New Al-Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri[15]

On July 7, 2011, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), via its media wing Al-Andalus, released an audio interview with Sheikh Abu 'Ubayda Yousef Al-'Annabi, who is a member of AQIM's Shari'a Council. In the interview, Abu 'Ubayda, on behalf of AQIM, swears allegiance to new Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, saying that AQIM is ready for and committed to following the commands of Al-Zawahiri.

The English-Language Jihadi Forum Ansarullah Posts on the Internet Archive Hidden Encryption Details' for Readers to Communicate with Al-Qaeda

Another example of how jihadis are using Archive.org is the English-language Ansarullah forum.[16] Its featured post for the week of August 8-12, 2011 is an advertisement from Inspire Magazine for readers to send questions to the American-born Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki through encrypted messages.[17] The Ansarullah forum post includes instructions for readers to send encrypted emails; this extensive document in English was posted directly on Archive.org by the forum's administrators.

The Online Jihadi Media Group Nukhbat Al-Jihadi Utilizes the Internet Archive

The Twitter account for "Al_nukhba"[18] belongs to the media group of Nukhbat Al-I'lam Al-Jihadi ("The Jihadi Media Elite"); it is one example of the group's use of social networks.[19] The account was launched on July 23, 2011. The group's activities include preparing transcripts of Jihadi media releases, publishing articles and studies, and producing jihad propaganda videos. The media group also operates Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube accounts.[20] Many of their posts link to Archive.org.

During the past week of, July 27-August 3, 2011, "Al_nukhba" tweeted 16 posts, with one-third of them linking directly to the Internet Archive. The links included video, audio, and text on Jihadi topics – a video of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a biography of AQAP "martyrs," speeches by AQIM leaders, and more.

*Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute


Endnotes:

[1] MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis, "Part I – Deleting Online Jihad and the Case of Anwar Al-Awlaki: Nearly Three Million Viewings of Al-Awlaki's YouTube Videos – Included Would-Be Christmas Airplane Bomber, Fort Hood Shooter, 7/7 London Bomber, and Would-Be Fort Dix Bombers" Deleting Online Jihad and the Case of Anwar Al-Awlaki: Nearly Three Million Viewings of Al-Awlaki's YouTube Videos – Included Would-Be Christmas Airplane Bomber, Fort Hood Shooter, 7/7 London Bomber, and Would-Be Fort Dix Bombers;

"Part II – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: A Look at Al-Awlaki's Followers YouTube Pages" YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: Part II;

"Part III – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: Taliban YouTube Page Remains Active" YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base – Part III: Despite Removal Efforts, Taliban YouTube Page Promising Terror Attacks on U.S. Cities Remains Active;

"Part IV – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base - Part IV: Young American YouTube Follower of Anwar Al-Awlaki on the Ground Zero Mosque and 9/11: 'America Reaps What It Sows'; 'You Pretend Like the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Was a Daycare Center or a Maternity Ward; If the People Who Did 9/11 Wanted To Kill Innocent People, They Would Have Bombed a School… Church… Daycare Center'" YouTube - The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base - Part IV: Young American YouTube Follower of Anwar Al-Awlaki on the Ground Zero Mosque and 9/11: 'America Reaps What It Sows'; 'You Pretend Like the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Was a Daycare Center or a Maternity Ward; No - The World Trade Center Was the Epicenter of American Economy That Funds So Much Death And Destruction... If the People Who Did 9/11 Wanted To Kill Innocent People, They Would Have Bombed a School... Church... Daycare Center';

"Part V: YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube – Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube" Part V: YouTube - The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube - Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube.

[2] MEMRI JTTM, "Jihadi Media Company Announces New Website," July 25, 2011, http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/blog_personal.htm?id=5256¶m=GJN.

[5] The Washington Post, May 8, 2008

[6] http://www.archive.org/account/login.createaccount.php Users upload content by following simple instructions: clicking the "Upload" button and then the "Share" button, and selecting the files they wish to upload.[6] Users can download content by right-clicking on the desired file and selecting "Save As" (see http://www.archive.org/about/faqs.php#Downloading_Content).

[8] MEMRI JTTM report "Jihadi Forum Offers Course in Uploading Materials to YouTube and Internet Archive – 'To Safeguard the Mujahideen's Legacy,'" August 1, 2011, http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/blog_personal.htm?id=5285¶m=GJN.

[9] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4032, "Al-Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri Expresses Support For Syrian Revolution In New Video," July 28, 2011, Al-Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri Expresses Support For Syrian Revolution In New Video.

[10] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcJJuWYbunQ (This link was active at the time of the writing)

[12] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4007, "Inspire 6 – Uninspiring: Latest Issue of English-Language AQAP Magazine Reflects Al-Qaeda's Setback Following Bin Laden Killing, Arab Uprisings," July 19, 2011 Inspire 6 – Uninspiring: Latest Issue of English-Language AQAP Magazine Reflects Al-Qaeda's Setback following Bin Laden Killing, Arab Uprisings.

[13] MEMRI JTTM No. 3920, "Al-Qaeda: Al-Zawahiri To Succeed Bin Laden as Al-Qaeda Emir," June 16, 2011 http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/report.htm?report=5377%C2%B6m=APT.

[14] MEMRI JTTM No. 3885, "New Al-Qaeda Al-Sahab Video Reiterates: Carry Out One-Man Jihad Operations in the West," June 3, 2011 http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/report.htm?report=5339¶m=APT.

[15] MEMRI JTTM No. 3984, " AQIM Swears Allegiance To New Al-Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri," July 8, 2011 http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/report.htm?report=5449¶m=APT.

[17] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 704, "Al-Qaeda's Embrace of Encryption Technology: 2007-2011," July 12, 2011 Al-Qaeda's Embrace of Encryption Technology: 2007-2011.

[19] See MEMRI JTTM report "Jihadi Media Group Company Announces New Website," July 25, 2011 http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/blog_personal.htm?id=5256¶m=GJN.

[20] See MEMRI JTTM report "Jihadi Media Group Company Announces New Website," July 25, 2011 http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/blog_personal.htm?id=5256¶m=GJN.