ISIS: STATE OF TERROR
LINKSBlogs of War
Making Sense of Jihad
Views from the Occident
American Al Qaeda Members
News, documents and analysis on violent extremism
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Charting Bin Laden's Death Among Arabic-Speaking Hardcore Jihadis OnlineHere's the third, and for now, final, installment of jihadist forum analysis, this time focusing on the Ansar Al-Mujahideen Arabic-language forum. I'm putting up some raw data for the moment, and hopefully I will have some time to compile a more sophisticated thought or two on the analysis over the next few weeks. I welcome any analysis from readers in the meantime, tweet at me to discuss. Keep in mind this is raw data that could use another set of eyes, so allow for probably about a 5 percent margin of error.
Ansar Al-Mujahideen Arabic is a full-on jihadist forum, unlike the Hanein forum I looked at the the last installment. More on this in a bit. For now here are the results for the first four weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Predictably, Ansar users, consisting of hardcore jihadists ideologically aligned with Al Qaeda, were most concerned with the death of Osama bin Laden. There were 2104 threads created on Ansar during the sample period. Osama bin Laden was the main focus of 648 threads, with 231 devoted to Arab Spring developments, and four pertaining to Anwar Awlaki.
As far as the weak Awlaki number, I wouldn't read too much into this without more data. For instance, most references to Zawahiri were either in the context of bin Laden's death or a new media release, and Awlaki didn't have any media out in May except for Inspire, which was duly noted. I'd like to examine this more over time and on a more normal month.
The breakdown of Arab Spring countries looks like this:
The country totals are:
Algeria -- 6
Bahrain -- 3
Egypt -- 89
Jordan -- 17
Libya -- 12
Morocco -- 21
Multiple/general -- 21
Syria -- 29
Tunisia -- 13
Unclear reference -- 2
Yemen -- 10
As I found in the Hanein forum, Syria was the second-most referenced Arab Spring country, which makes me think we need to see some more reporting about jihadist interest/influence there than what the mainstream media has provided so far. As with Hanein, and not surprisingly, Egypt was the clear winner as the country most referenced. But again, the comparison the Palestinian-issues yields a surprising result.
There were 89 posts pertaining primarily to Egyptian political developments vs. only 84 posts about Palestinian issues, and many of the latter were largely content-free gestures attempting to tack bin Laden's death on to the Palestinian cause. The sample period included significant developments on Palestinian issues between majors speeches by Obama and Netanyahu as well as international movement toward recognizing a Palestinian state. So the fact that Egypt wins even among hardcore jihadists suggests to me that we might want to examine some of our precoceptions about the primacy of the Palestinian conflict in the hearts of jihadists. However, I caution that this is too preliminary and too small a sample to jump to any big conclusions.
Ansar also featured more generalized discussions about the Arab Spring than the more nationalistic Hanein forum, mainly because jihadists are having trouble crafting an ideological response to recent developments. But for the overall focus, Hanein (which used to have a much more jihadist orientation) shows that the Arab Spring may indeed prove to be a significant threat to the jihadist movement. Consider the following chart which excludes the "other" category:
Both Ansar and Hanein had roughly the same number of threads created during the sample period, 2104 versus 2315 respectively. So the strength of their conversations are pretty comparable. But the exodus of Hanein users in recent months from a primarily Salafist-jihadist orientation to more of what I guess you would call a militant-nationalist orientation is pretty striking.
More on all of this soon.
For more about how American jihadists use the Internet, buy J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, out now!
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
Tweets referencing this post:
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe
Charting Bin Laden's Death On An Arabic-Language, ...
Charting Bin Laden's Death Among English-Speaking ...
Revolution Muslim's Younus Abdullah Muhammad Arres...
Jihad Joe Roundup: Events, Video, Pictures, Writin...
American Jihad: From Smoking Fuses To Smoking Barr...
Declassified State Department Cables On Hezbollah'...
Anwar Awlaki 9/11 Documents As Seen On 'Fox News R...
Video Preview of 'Fox News Reporting: Secrets of 9...
American Terrorist Anwar Awlaki's Role Examined In...
New bin Laden Video Still Just Audio
New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim
The Utility of Lone Wolves
Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You
PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement
Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips
Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums
U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki
State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh
State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs
Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War
U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001
Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting