Al-Qaeda's Media Strategies

Jihad is as virtual as it is real.

Issue: Spring 2006

We are in a battle, and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media .... [W]e are in a media battle for the hearts and minds of ourumma.

--Ayman al-Zawahiri, July 2005

THE CENTRALITY of the Arab mass media to Al-Qaeda's political strategy has long been evident. From spectacular terror attacks designed for maximal media exposure, to carefully timed videos from Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to the burgeoning realm of jihadi Internet forums, Al-Qaeda the organization has increasingly become indistinguishable from Al-Qaeda the media phenomenon. But the nature of Al-Qaeda's relationship with the Arab media has been poorly understood, and the wrong policy conclusions too often drawn.

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