December 16, 2004

December 16, 2004 | Commentary on Europe

All Intifada, All the Time

While the West is basking in the tunes of Christmas carols, a different tune is being played by the two leading Jihadi TV channels, al Jazeera and al Manar. The radical Sunni al Jazeera, broadcasting from Qatar, the flagship of anti-Western Islamist propaganda, is funded and tolerated by the Qatari royal family, reportedly to the tune of $30 million a year. It has become the main conduit of Al Qaeda tapes to the Arab and Muslim world, suggesting an exclusive arrangement with the elusive jihadi leaders Usama bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri.

Al Manar, a Shi'i satellite and cable operation out of Lebanon, belongs to Hizballah and funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the tune of $15 million a year, and is even more anti-American in its pitch. Both channels are available world wide, including the US, via satellite. Canadian cable operators are now offering al Jazeera and al Manar via easily obtained and cheap subscriptions.

Robert Spencer, Director of the NGO Jihad Watch says that al Jazeera provides foreign-based terrorists with a source of news, encouragement and instruction. It serves radical Muslims as a useful recruiting tool. For jihadist recruiters, al Jazeera is like an electronic madrassa beaming the teachings and perspective of radical Islam into the living rooms of Muslims around the world twenty four hours a day, Spencer says.

 

Since 9/11, the U.S. Government has expressed its concerns about al Jazeera's biased coverage to the Emir of Qatar. A State Department official told CNN that Secretary of State Colin Powell and the emir "had a frank exchange" on the issue and "there should have been no mistake of where we are coming from." Condoleezza Rice has also criticized the channel. No wonder: typical coverage would include the following pictures shown in quick succession: tiny bodies of Iraqi children supposedly killed by American bombs, woman in a chador sobbing, a giant American B-52 bomber, and fireballs lighting up the Baghdad night sky. One American observer in the Middle East calls al Jazeera "All Intifada, all the time."

Al Manar, however, makes al Jazeera look like PBS. A new study by Avi Jorisch, a former Pentagon Arab media and terrorism expert, published by the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, exposes this deadly media weapon wielded by Hizballah. "The United States is one of al-Manar's main targets. Hizballah views America as a terrorist state... Al Manar is used to further that perception, attempting to win the hearts and minds of Arab and Muslim viewers by waging a powerful public relations campaign against the 'Great Satan.'" writes Jorisch.

 

He quotes Sheikh Nasrallah, Hizbollah's Secretary General in a March 2002 speech,

 

"Today the main source of evil in this world, the main source of terrorism... the central threat to international peace and to the economic development... the main threat to the environment, the main source of ... killing and turmoil, and civil wars, and regional wars is the United States of America. The American political discourse is to terrorize the countries of the world. American is a beast in all meanings of the world. A beast that is hungry for power and blood."

 

Al Manar focuses much of its broadcasts on alleged American atrocities towards Native Americans, blacks, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while stating that U.S. "oppression" continues unabated. Al Manar brainwashes its audience, including its viewers in the U.S., that America's foreign policy is designed to "enslave the governments and people of the Middle East and their resources."

 

Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, Hizbollah's spiritual leader, as well as Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the late Ayatollah Khomeini are often quoted on al Manar vilifying America, its leaders and its policies.

 

Al Manar constantly calls upon the "Arab masses" to "mobilize" and "resist" the U.S. presence in Iraq and elsewhere, while it glorifies murder-suicide bombings against civilians in Israel. While al Manar and Hizballah officials profess their neutrality towards the American people in interviews in English, Jorisch writes, the channel often quotes its leader Ayatollah Fadlallah's vitriol, "The instincts of American people are filled with hatred for Arabs and Muslims."

 

In fact, according to Hizballah, it is the U.S. and Israel which are "terrorist states" whereas "jihad, resistance, martyrdom... is actually removing terrorism. Humanity will not be blessed without removing America's type of terrorism...We have to continue our jihad in all different types in order to save humanity from the (American) terrorist thinking."

 

Little response has come to date from Washington to this 24/7 global brainwashing. Today, al Jazeera is launching its English language global satellite channel. Al Manar is broadcasting unabated, and its popularity is growing. Al Qaeda is recruiting hundreds, if not thousands, through chat rooms around the world. Jihadi websites are proliferating like poisonous mushrooms, in Arabic, English, French, Farsi, Urdu, Uzbek, and in the languages of the Indian subcontinent and East Asia. After 9/11 the CIA experienced an acute shortage of funds and lacked the qualified linguists who would be needed just to keep track of these spewing Niagaras of hatred. The battle of ideas has thus far been an American weak spot in the war on terror.

 

In the second Bush Administration it is imperative to go beyond the Radio Sawa and Al Hurra TV channel funded by the U.S Government to answer the jihadi propaganda. It was inconceivable that Der Sturmer, the propaganda sheet put out by Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, would have been allowed to circulate unchallenged in the Allied countries during World War II. Today, it is simply self-defeating for the West to permit American, French and other Western satellites and cable systems to carry al Jazeera and al Manar.

 

The intelligence community has yet to develop a capable covert political action arm, which would launch or support liberal and pro-Western TV channels, radio stations and web sites to counter the media promoting radical Islamist hatred of either the Sunni and Shi'a brands.

 

The State Department has yet to develop a comprehensive strategy, which would demand U.S.-friendly Muslim regimes to bring government-funded mosques, school curricula, and university education into harmony with the rest of the planet -- multicultural and theologically messy.

 

On al Jazeera and al Manar, preachers and propagandists are still calling for to the death to the infidels. Somewhere, another ignorant 16 year old is being recruited by an al Qaeda operative in an on-line chat room, another "mother of shahid" is being given her thirty seconds of global glory in return for the willful death of her child and the murder of many others. It is time to stop the bloody charade of the global electronic jihad.

Ariel Cohen is a research fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Visiting Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

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