April 26, 2011 6 Comments
UPDATED (April 28 @ 4:51 P.M.)
-Christopher Anzalone (McGill University)
Jihadi Media Elite (Nukhba al-’Ilam al-Jihadi; JME), a shadowy transnational jihadi-takfiri media outlet, has started a web site and a Twitter account, which they have recently begun to advertise in threads of its materials posted to militant Internet discussion forums. The JME specializes in producing Arabic transcripts of media releases from Al-Qa’ida Central (AQC), Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), and other affiliated and allied organizations. It also occasionally publishes its own material. The JME joins the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban) in setting up a Twitter account as well as a number of other independent “fans” and supporters of the jihadi-takfiri trend.
The JME’s Twitter account, “Al_nukhba,” was initiated on March 31 with the following message:
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم … وبه نستعين … وعلى بركة الله نبدأ المسير
(Approximately: “In the name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful: May He guide us to the correct path and with God’s blessing we begin…”)
As of this writing, the account has 17 Tweets, all of them either links to JME-produced translations and transcripts or original material together with a few short messages. Material that is linked-to includes a translation of an article about a “mujahid’s widow” in the inaugural issue of Al-Shamikha (The Majestic Woman) Internet magazine, an interview with a member of the Islamic State of Iraq’s shura council, a transcript of a recent religious lecture by AQC preacher Khalid bin ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Husaynan, and advertising the JME’s new web site, http://www.nsheed.info/. The last two Tweets, both on April 22, advertise an affiliated JME web site, http://www.sunh.info/. It currently has eleven followers (one appears to be a spam account). As of April 28, when this post was updated, the account is now private and viewing its feed requires approval of a request.
One of the messages Tweeted urges readers that, “together we can build our [Muslim] nation’s glory, cut the constraints, break the silence, and achieve glory!”
معًا نبني مجد أمتنا…الهمة مهمة…لا تقف متفرجًا…اقطع صمتًا…اكسر قيدًا…كن قويًّا…واصنع مجدًا
The main JME web site, http://www.nsheed.info, remains at the time of this writing fairly bare bones but includes flashy graphic artwork from JME publications and a large version of the media outlet’s logo (see below).
The Afghan Taliban’s Twitter account, alemarahweb, has at the time of this writing 672 Tweets and shows that the movement has been quite active on a variety of new media platforms. Its web sites and new media capabilities are extensive and it makes excellent use of them for propaganda and militant da’wa purposes.
The Ribat Media Center, a seemingly independent Urdu-language jihadi-takfiri media outlet also maintains a Twitter (and Facebook) account, ribatmedia2, as well as a web site. It produces translations into Urdu of jihadi-takfiri texts from other languages and archives major Urdu-language jihadi-takfiri publications such as the Internet magazines Hittin, Nawa-i Afghan Jihad, and Al-Furqaan. It also archives English-language publications such as Inspire and Jihad Recollections. The center’s Twitter account currently lists an old, now-defunct URL for its web site.
Twitter has been credited (with a good deal of exaggeration) of being the “driving force” behind the popular uprisings in the Arab world and Iran since 2009. The new media platform is now used by commercial companies, major corporations, politicians, celebrities, journalists, mainstream and fringe media outlets, and millions of private individuals to exchange news, spread views, and engage in a variety of virtual interactions. The jihadi-takfiri trend has now also begun to make use of the communicative benefits that Twitter offers. While these current accounts will likely be shut down, the trend’s media outlets and groups will surely keep trying to tap into the new opportunities that Twitter offers them for keeping in touch with their core audience as well as potential new followers. This trend, while it should not be exaggerated, is worrying to say the least.
Scholar Nico Prucha, an expert in the transnational jihadi-takfiri trend, has written an excellent two-part post on jihadi use of Blue Tooth at the academic Jihadica blog.