January 04, 2007

Squawk Like an Egyptian

If the United States would like to keep Islamic terrorism from despoiling the "final frontier," it needs to start considering the best way to pull the plug on Egypt's powerful NileSat, an Egyptian government-run satellite broadcasting "al Qaeda TV," 24 hours a day.

As noted in the Weekly Standard:

Al Qaeda and its allies now have their own 24-hour television station. Based at a secret studio in Syria, its signal is broadcast to the entire Arab world from a satellite owned by the Egyptian government. This development highlights al Qaeda's increasingly sophisticated propaganda efforts.

Al Qaeda placed great emphasis on communicating its message effectively throughout 2006. Osama bin Laden and deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri issued more tapes in 2006 than in any year since the 9/11 attacks. In the past, al Qaeda tapes were generally released to Al Jazeera, but 2006 saw more Internet releases: the terrorist group's message was thus more quickly disseminated. Al-Zawraa TV, the 24-hour insurgent station, is an extension of this trend.

Al-Zawraa hit the airwaves on November 14. According to Middle East-based media monitor Marwan Soliman and military analyst Bill Roggio, it was set up by the Islamic Army of Iraq, an insurgent group comprised of former Baathists who were loyal to Saddam Hussein and now profess their conversion to a bin Laden-like ideology.

The Islamic Army of Iraq is subordinate to the Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni insurgent groups, including al Qaeda in Iraq. 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. Through Nilesat, Al-Zawraa's signal blankets the Middle East and North Africa, thus ensuring that the insurgents' message reaches every corner of the Arab world.

Al-Zawraa's content is heavy with insurgent propaganda, including audio messages from Islamic Army of Iraq spokesman Dr. Ali al-Na'ami and footage of the group's operations. The station calls for violence against both Shia Iraqis and the Iraqi government. According to Marwan Soliman, the station's anchors appear in military fatigues to rail against the Iraqi government while news crawls urge viewers to support the Islamic Army of Iraq and "help liberate Iraq from the occupying U.S. and Iranian forces."

I don't much care how the government chooses to end Al-Zawraa's broadcasting. They should certainly start by withholding or canceling the substantial financial aid given to Egypt by the United States. If political pressure fails, we certainly have the technical means to disrupt or block NileSatís communications and navigation capabilities, meaning we can simply switch it off, or adjust it's flight path to turn it into a multi-million dollar shooting star as it burns up on re-entry. Frankly, I think the later would send a far more dramatic, and perhaps more suitable, message to those who would choose to broadcast terrorist TV, but then, perhaps that is why I'm not a diplomat.

But we do have diplomats, and they are beholden to our elected representatives. I suggest that anyone concerned about this should contact their Congressmen and Senators. Democrat of Republican, they have no excuse to continue subsidizing a government that sells satellite time to the highest terrorist bidder.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 4, 2007 11:16 AM | TrackBack

Like CNN wasn't enough?

Posted by: cfbleachers at January 4, 2007 12:20 PM

The correct way to counter propaganda is to broadcast the truth. The truth brought down the Soviet Union. The truth is freeing the Chinese. And the truth is the only way to win the war on terror. Trying to silence the other side only makes them stronger.

Posted by: Lindata at January 4, 2007 12:55 PM

Lindata, when the overwhelming majority of the war is an acknowledged media war, and propoganda is the only way that the terrorists can win, why would you consider ceding essential battlespace unchalleged? That is a patently illogical position to take.

In more conventioanl warfare we target enemy positions. In information warfare, we target attitudes, feelings, and thoughts not always rational. The simple fact of the matter is that most truth is boring, and can easily be overwhelmed by slickly-packaged "infotainment."

Comparatively sophisticated and educated western audiences have consistently proven susceptible to such tactics, and less media-savvy Middle Eastern populations are even more susceptible to such propaganda. We need to do far more to take this realm of warfare away from al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, not less.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at January 4, 2007 01:22 PM

Next Shuttle launch, we make it an "All Military Crew", go up and steal the satellite! All on live tv.

Then, after allowing some taggers to properly graffiti the package, and deliver it back to Syria. Via FEDEX, collect.

Rinse; repeat.

We have the technology to pirate the transmissions, redo them and resend. Make the originals into "Hogan's Heroes" type comedy shows.

Or something.

Have a great new year!

Posted by: dc at January 4, 2007 02:12 PM

they have no excuse to continue subsidizing a government that sells satellite time to the highest terrorist bidder.

But they do have an excuse: Bizzaro world. Up is down, left is right. One phone call to egypt from preznit to preznit threatening to stop all financial aid. And as an incentive, take back the most recent payment as a punishment for not doing right by the US. It is simple. So why does the administration allow it? You know don't you - Bizzaro world of Bu$hCo.

Posted by: Tom at January 4, 2007 02:13 PM


Your heart is in the right place...truth SHOULD win out. And in a battle between truth and lies...given enough time, an even playing field and an audience sophisticated enough to want to be educated on the salient facts so that they understand the fine points...truth WILL win out ...eventually.

But, all one has to do is look at our own leftists in this country and you can see the frailties in the argument that SIMPLE truth wins out EVERY TIME. This is naive and fantasy inspired at best...dangerous and potentially fatally so at worst.

A) Even playing field.

If we were to take ALL the bloggers, talk radio, Fox News and perhaps a few print newspapers and still couldn't possibly put enough of a dent in the monopoly over the Ministry of Media with EVERY major network news organization, EVERY major newspaper, ALL of Hollywood, virtually EVERY college campus in the humanities departments, that infuses our information stream with leftist dogma. You can't. They have had a stranglehold on the places where our opinions are shaped...for over 40 years.

While I am clearly on record as stating that I believe bloggers are saving America, "truth" has NOT won out. Not by a long shot. In fact, those who are invested in telling lies and distortions are so swelled with arrogance, that they have replaced their ambition to own the truth...with "truthyness". And no matter how many bloggers catch them in yet another lie, distortion, simply can't catch them all, because they just swarm the airwaves, campus classes, movie and tv screens and print media, each and every minute of each and every day.

And while it may be noble to believe that the pen is mightier than the sword, the pen is not mightier than the swarm.

b)Audience sophisticated enough

If one is a leftist...and is NOT INTENTIONALLY foisting the "big lie" on the rest of the population...than you automatically erase yourself from the "sophisticated enough" portion of the above population. Lemmings, parrots and dullards abound.

Overwhelmingly, people accept corrupted information from their "trusted" sources...virtually unconditionally. Peer pressure in the echo chamber reaches zero gravity, lemmings and parrots are free falling all the time. Swimming in the rarified air of Orwellian sloganeering. "You are one of the smart ones, the cool be one of to be really stupid and unhip"


Frankly, this does not appear to my eye as being an evolutionary event, but has all the earmarks of a revolutionary event. We simply don't have the time to fiddle while Rome burns. And Madrid. And London. And Somalia. And Detroit, New York, Chicago, LA.

I have no intention of supporting the suppression of truth. Anywhere in the world. I do support confronting lies. And we can start with our own Ministry of Media as far as I'm concerned.

Al-Qaeda has declared war on America and the West. Disrupting their communications channels and preventing them from getting out recruiting messages, coded tactical and operations instructions and a legitimate defense tactic. And political correctness shouldn't cost us the ultimate victory over a declared enemy, when the defense tactics are legitimate. Ever.

Posted by: cfbleachers at January 4, 2007 02:32 PM

Absolutely. We can do anything we want, because we're Americans and we're smarter, better-looking, and more wonderfuller than anyone else in the world. We know how to run the world -- we do such a good job here in the good old USA -- that we should be allowed to do so. And if anybody tries to stop us, we can drop the Big One on them. God is on our side, remember.

Posted by: Max Edison at January 4, 2007 03:37 PM

"Anything we want"...

Translation from leftist lemming language:

a)defend ourselves against sworn enemies who have vowed to kill us

b)try to uncover the truth from lies, distortions, misrepresentations

I wonder what color the sky is in that world, I really do.

Posted by: cfbleachers at January 4, 2007 03:43 PM

Sorry Lindata, the truth doesn't win out.

How do you think we ended up in Iraq?

Posted by: Robert at January 4, 2007 10:58 PM

Thank you, Confederate Yankee,

For your thoughful response. "Attitudes, feelings, and thoughts not always rational" but if we are to counter them we need to move into the rationa space. You can feel what you feel, and I can feel what I feel but the rubber meets the road when we decide what we are going to DO about it. I think we need to move into the RATIONAL space for that discussion. And the RATIONAL space needs to start with the truth.

As for cfbleachers:

a) The idea that the leftist have taken over the media is an unquestionable meme to you guys: if you agree it's news, if you disagree its leftist lies. Very convenient.
b) The idea that those that disagree with you are
"unspohisticated". Again very convenient and very comforting. Let us go at it in terms of the facts, or the logic, or somewhere that doesn't start beyond discussion.
c) There are a few thousand Al-Qaeda. There are a billion Muslims. So far our tactics have created an enormous movement away from us and toward Al-Qaeda. Whatever time we have, going the wrong direction seems stupid. I am all for disrupting their propaganda.

The answer is the truth and the unquestioned morality of our actions.

Posted by: indata at January 4, 2007 11:23 PM

yup...if we are to be succesful it will only be by curtailing basic human freedom of speech. and that friggin' habeus corpus thing.

Posted by: jay k. at January 5, 2007 09:17 AM

I'm okay with forcibly removing a source of biased propaganda. To hell with free speech, that's just another dumb left wing idea anyway. I'm okay with censoring fake, biased, non-fact based news. Just so long as FOX gets taken down at the same time.

Posted by: BillT at January 6, 2007 11:35 AM