Leah, over at All Things Counter Terrorism, makes note of the apparent decline in the value of the as-Sahab brand on jihadi forums.
A few comments:
* During the period between the arrest of Irhabi007 until the Fall of 2008, the so-called top tier of forums enjoyed a close working relationship with as-Sahab, as-Sahab's distribution arm al-Fajr, and by extension AQ-HQ.
* Following the events of 2008, when those top tier sites were retired, a new network began to emerge, composed of elements from the old network and also of new players. These fellows don't have the same kind of connection to AQ-HQ.
* The pages of each forum are composed of multiple sections, each of which can be edited independently, and then the page is assembled as needed from the necessary part, the code of which is stored in the site's database. The placement of banner ads on forums - which ads, and in what order - is the responsibility of the administrators of each forum.
* Either the administrators of a forum and the distributors of a particular video need to coordinate the placing of a banner ad and the creation of the associated discussion thread where the links to the video are posted, or the administrators of the forum have to provide the official representatives of each terrorist organization, media production, and/or media distribution outfit with the necessary rights and privileges on the forum so those people can manage their own banner ads, etc.
* Coordination takes time, and administrative access requires trust.
* AQ-HQ/as-Sahab/al-Fajr have two possible courses of action: they can earn the trust and gain the assistance of the administrators of the current top tier forums, or they can set up their own forums.
* Setting up a forum and gaining the trust of the rank and file is challenging - as I'm sure any of a number of intelligence agencies can testify - and the reader will recall that the primary target of the action against the top tier jihadi sites this past September 11, 2009, was not the sites so much as it was the trust relationships between AQ-HQ et al on the one side, and the forum admins on the other.
* The forums are the primary distribution channel for terrorist media because with the forums there is at least the possibility that each release can be authenticated - this explains why the Arabic-language jihadi forums are popular even with jihadis who can't hardly understand Arabic.
* From the forums the authenticated product can then be re-distributed via the secondary channel - sites such as YouTube, for example. AQ-HQ could dispense with the primary channel altogether, but YouTube is unlikely to provide the necessary authentication, and you can be certain that "the dogs of intelligence" have OBL, Zawahiri, and al-Libi impersonators anxiously awaiting their 15 minutes of fame.
I haven't had this much fun in years :-)Posted on 02 November 2009 @ 02:38
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