Sunday, January 07, 2007

al Qaeda and Iraq: The TV Connection

It's just amazing how many al Qaeda and Iraq connections there are. I just found out about another one--the al Qaeda TV station that was set up by former Baathists loyal to Saddam Hussein.

There may not have been much of a connection between al Qaeda and Iraq before the war, but there is now. Interestingly enough, "the Islamic Army of Iraq, an insurgent group comprised of former Baathists who were loyal to Saddam Hussein have set up the new al Qaeda television station, based somewhere in Syria. It began transmission on November 14, 2005.

Iraq the Model recently discussed his lack of surprise that different factions of militant Islam will work together with their erstwhile enemies when it suits their purposes. It may simply be that Islamic Army of Iraq and al Qaeda will commence shooting at each other when coalition forces leave Iraq, but it is interesting just the same.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Nick Grace reported for the Weekly Standard recently that

The Al-Zawraa channel is not only viewed as credible by users of established jihadist Internet forums, but as a strategically important information outlet as well. Moreover, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, is delighted by the station. A U.S. military intelligence officer told us that al-Masri "has long-term and big plans for this thing."

Al Qaeda's previous attempts at setting up propaganda outlets have been limited to satellite radio and the Internet. Al-Zawraa, however, appears to be well financed and may find a much broader audience. The channel is broadcast on Nilesat, a powerful satellite administered by the Egyptian government.

Propaganda calls incessantly for violence against Iraqi Shias and the Iraqi government. It shows as much blood and carnage as it can get its hands on, ascribing all of it to US occupation forces.

It's primary purpose is not anti-Americanism, but rather to further destabilize Iraq. Will al Qaeda TV go away when America declares its mission complete and returns home? Not likely.


PJ said...

Good post Frank. Makes ense to me. However, you're going to get into trouble with your new friends at One Utah with that kind of comment. ;)

Frank Staheli said...

Richard usually has some good insights into the the other side of the story. I like a few of the others, too. But, there are others over there who are nothing but hot air. A lot of times Cliff has good things to say, but then sometimes he lets his anger get the best of him.

Rich Warnick said...

The Columbia Journalism Review offers some insight on the Al-Zawraa situation. I know the right is keen to label every anti-American group as Al Qaeda connected. That underestimates the scope of the problem-- across the Middle East, the Sunni Arabs and their governments hate us too. Al-Zawraa broadcasts from Egypt.

Frank Staheli said...

It's interesting, the article points out, that they are currently having to loop the last broadcast that they had because of no further feed.

Some people claim that the US should not be trying to put a stop to the channel due to free speech, but I think that is a hollow claim. Incitement to violence and killing is not free speech.

wordsmith said...


You might be interested in this bit of false propaganda, if you haven't seen it yet. From the Islamic Army in Iraq.

Some people claim that the US should not be trying to put a stop to the channel due to free speech, but I think that is a hollow claim. Incitement to violence and killing is not free speech.

I definitely feel that the enemy is doing a better job at getting their message and their propaganda out there than we are. I saw nothing wrong with the U.S. military paying Iraqi newspapers to get truthful positive stories out there to the Iraqis. The press picked up on that, like we were doing something dishonest and making up stories that weren't true. Sometimes the fourth estate is like a fifth column, doing the work of the enemy for them.

Frank Staheli said...

I agree. I read the story at the link that Richard provided above, and it bugged me that after an otherwise good story it tried to equate our trying to get rid of one propaganda tool of the enemy with suppression of free speech.

I'd like to research the military's influence in getting Iraqis to publish good stories. I remember thinking at the time (I was in Ramadi?) that the press sure is making a big deal about this, but I didn't learn any details.

Rich Warnick said...


Rich Warnick said...

Frank, it's not just journalists who were outraged by the Pentagon program to place fake news stories in the Iraqi media. Even some Defense Department officials realized how counterproductive this was, not to mention the potential for "blowback."

When the government goes into the fake news business, it’s worse than simply lying. It’s Soviet-style propaganda. Since the phony news was unlikely to fool most Iraqis, I wonder if it was really intended to be picked up by American journalists who might report the occupation of Iraq was going well.

Frank Staheli said...


It was an interesting article, talking about how trying to jump-start the Iraqi press got out of hand. It is bad that they used psy-ops guys to give information tours and mixed them with public affairs units.

I was disappointed, though, that the story gave no specific examples of fake news stories. It did allude to a lot of things, and background quoted some military people, but no specifics.

Rich Warnick said...

Going back to November 30, 2005, I believe the L.A. Times broke the story. The full text is available from their archives if you want to pay a small fee. They probably have examples of planted stories.

"As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as 'Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,' since the effort began this year.

The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with ... Lincoln Group which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group's Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets."