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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Jihadists Get Defensive About OBL Video Release

Jihadists today tried to spin yesterday's confusion about just how the U.S. government got a copy of the latest Osama bin Laden video.

In a posting on a prominent jihadist forum that announces communications from al Qaeda, a spokesman linked to al Qaeda claimed that the video was intentionally sent to television stations before being released online as part of a public relations strategy.

The claim is highly doubtful. Although communiques have been released through television stations in the past, the recipients of such videos always claim credit for obtaining the video first. Instead, reports throughout the day indicated that the government had obtained the video, and the networks obtained the video from the government.

The spokesman, identified only by the online handle "Faithful Correspondent," also denied reports that jihadist message boards had gone offline or experienced other technical difficulties.

The denials came in both Arabic and English (postings in the forum are typically not in English). "As a requested strategy the Video has been sent to TV channels before posting it to the net," the English portion said. "And It is not true that some websites claimed that they have received it in another way."

Reports on INTELWIRE and NBC News yesterday observed disruptions in infrastructure sites and jihadist message boards respectively. INTELWIRE stands by its story.

"Faithful Correspondent" also conceded that there were technical problems with the video quality, an unusual situation given al Qaeda's technical proficiency in previous video communiques. The image of bin Laden freezes for a significant portion of the video, even though the audio and subtitles continue.

According to media reports yesterday, the U.S. government intercepted the video at least 24 hours before its release online today. As reported here yesterday, it appears authorities may have disrupted the video's intended distribution.


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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