I think The Sun were having a stream of consciousness moment when writing this headline “oooh, poofters….rape…..blah Muslims….wurgh….time for a coffee”.
However, as Wired’s Danger Room points out, it is, apart from a pretty shitty piece of obvious propaganda, indicative of, shall we say, a general malaise that has set in among Al-Qaeda Prime?Â AQP has tried to turn itself into a sort of “Big Vision” type of group, who go around exhorting others to actually take up the Jihad, and relying on local networks to do the dirty business.
But since earlier last year, when the focus shifted to the US elections, and with the victory of Barack Obama in particuar, they’ve been on the back foot.Â Euphoria at Bush leaving, a guy with relatively sane policies and a guy with a background that includes at least one mostly Muslim country mean he has a lot of leverage, and people are willing to hear him out.Â No-one was willing to hear a born again Christian who was part of the Texas oil set and hobnobbed with the Arab dictatorships out.Â Especially after he bombed and occupied a country on erroneous (read: non-existant) evidence.Â And the whole torture and contempt of human rights stuff didn’t help either.
Regardless of if Obama will have better Middle East policies or not, he is clearly better thought of than the previous guy.Â People turn to terrorism through lack of seemingly viable options.Â So when the guy in charge is trying to be a mediator instead of a commander, people think they have a shot at getting their points across.
Al-Qaeda is losing the media war.Â Sun headlines aside, people think they have a choice now, that there are multiple options and a possible path to reconciliation.Â Most people do not seek to join terrorist organizations when there are peaceful alternatives with a shot at getting what they want.Â I suspect that will be the next opening in Obama’s strategic communication offensive, at least if he is smart.Â Courting peaceful Islamist groups will defuse a large number of tensions if he can prevail on Arab leaders to listen to their requests and proposals.
And if that does happen, expect Al-Qaeda’s war to turn suddenly to “traitors within the Islamist ranks”.Â They need to make sure they are seen as the only legitimate voice of oppressed Muslims the world over, and their best chance for success.Â Any threats to that image must be taken care of, after all.