2005-08-09

Das Web als Waffe -- neues vom Terror-Netz

--- Nachdem der erste Teil der sommerlichen Serie der Washington Post zum Terrorweb wenig Neues brachte und sich der zweite vor allem dem Informationskrieg der Al-Qaida-Anhänger in Großbritannien widmete, wird es im ">dritten Teil noch mal aktueller mit einigen bislang kaum publizierten Details über die Professionalisierung der Online-Propaganda der Islamisten. Ein paar Auszüge:
The jihadist bulletin boards were buzzing. Soon, promised the spokesman for al Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers, a new video would be posted with the latest in mayhem from Iraq's best-known insurgent group. On June 29, the new release hit the Internet. "All Religion Will Be for Allah" is 46 minutes of live-action war in Iraq, a slickly produced video with professional-quality graphics and the feel of a blood-and-guts annual report. In one chilling scene, the video cuts to a brigade of smiling young men. They are the only fighters shown unmasked, and the video explains why: They are a corps of suicide bombers-in-training. As notable as the video was the way Abu Musab Zarqawi's "information wing" distributed it to the world: a specially designed Web page, with dozens of links to the video, so users could choose which version to download. There were large-file editions that consumed 150 megabytes for viewers with high-speed Internet and a scaled-down four-megabyte version for those limited to dial-up access. Viewers could choose Windows Media or RealPlayer. They could even download "All Religion Will Be for Allah" to play on a cell phone. ... Never before has a guerrilla organization so successfully intertwined its real-time war on the ground with its electronic jihad, making Zarqawi's group practitioners of what experts say will be the future of insurgent warfare, where no act goes unrecorded and atrocities seem to be committed in order to be filmed and distributed nearly instantaneously online. Zarqawi has deployed a whole inventory of Internet operations beyond the shock video. He immortalizes his suicide bombers online, with video clips of the destruction they wreak and Web biographies that attest to their religious zeal. He taunts the U.S. military with an online news service of his exploits, releasing tactical details of operations multiple times a day. He publishes a monthly Internet magazine, Thurwat al-Sinam (literally "The Camel's Hump"), that offers religious justifications for jihad and military advice on how to conduct it. ... By April, the al-Ansar bulletin board had become too well known as Zarqawi's outlet. The forum closed without notice. Alternatives quickly appeared. For a while, "mirror" sites emerged featuring many of the same users, with the same logins and passwords. They, too, disappeared. The al-Masada forum briefly took up the banner. Then participants began to warn that it had been breached by Western intelligence -- and the jihadists abandoned it, as well. The upheaval has resulted in a much more decentralized system for disseminating the bulletins from Iraq, with new boards constantly cropping up. As soon as a posting from Zarqawi's group appears now, dozens of new links to it are copied to the other jihadist sites within minutes, making for an intricate game of Internet cat-and-mouse. And even if the forums or fixed Web sites are temporarily out of commission, other ways still exist -- such as mass e-mails sent out several times a day with the latest in Iraq guerrilla videos, communiques and commentary from Yahoo e-groups such as ansar-jehad. While Zarqawi's group has moved away in recent months from videotaped beheadings of foreigners, the shock value of the Berg beheading has created a race for more and more realistic video clips from Iraq. Filming an attack has become an integral part of the attack itself. In April, a cameraman followed alongside an armed insurgent, video rolling, as they ran to the scene of a helicopter they had just shot down north of Baghdad. The one member of the Bulgarian crew found still alive was ordered to stand up and start walking, then shot multiple times on film as the shooter yelled, "This is Allah's judgment." The three-minute video from the Islamic Army of Iraq came at a time when many of the bulletin board sites were down; SITE Institute's Rita Katz found the link through the ansar-jehad e-group. "It's the exact reason why we built the Internet, a bargain-basement, redundant system for distributing information," said Kohlmann. "We can't shut it down anymore." Indeed, just last week, a notice went out on the jihadist bulletin boards: The Ansar forum that had disappeared in April was back up and running.