Last Updated (Friday, 19 October 2012 14:01)
"Abd al-Moeed bin Abd al-Salam," an American citizen killed during a raid by Pakistani security forces in Karachi in November 2011, was named by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) as one of the group's commanders. GIMF, one of the oldest and most influential jihadist propaganda groups with members from all over the world, eulogized Salam with the same flowery praise usually afforded to military commanders and suicide bombers, reflecting how the jihadist community recognizes that engaging and producing propaganda is as integral a part of their jihad as carrying out attacks against their enemies.
In a posting to jihadist forums on December 8, 2011, GIMF announced that Salam, lauded by GIMF as "a knight from the knights of the Jihadi media and the Jihadi forums," was "martyred in a martyrdom operation in a clash with the apostate soldiers of the Pakistani military intelligence...who tried to raid his apartment in the area of Gulistan-e-Jauhar in the city of Karachi in Pakistan."
This eulogy came three weeks after an incident reported widely in the Pakistani media in which an individual named "Moeed Abdul Salam," who some reports alleged was "al-Qaeda's operational head in Pakistan," was killed in his apartment in Gulistan-e-Jauhar in Karachi during a raid undertaken by the Pakistan Rangers on November 18. While what precipitated the incident is unclear, news reports indicated that Salam was believed to be working for al-Qaeda and that he carried both American and Pakistani citizenship.
Similarly, GIMF also maintained that Salam had close ties to the United States, noting that he lived in the United States with his family and "worked as a teacher in global companies with high salaries in Yemen and America, such that he even obtained American citizenship for his parents." However, after the 9/11 attacks, he was inspired to move to Saudi Arabia where he "began his Jihadi journey." GIMF described:
"And after a period of time, in 2001, when the knights of Qaedat al-Jihad executed the Manhattan raid in the land of infidelity America where our hero lived with his family, our brother heard the news of the blessed operation from his father, and his yearning for Jihad and fighting in the path of Allah increased, as did his desire to live among the Mujahideen happily. So when the Crusader attack was launched on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, he changed his life completely and left all the comforts of the world and its concerns, dedicating his life to the support of Jihad and thwarting the oppression and aggression against the Islamic Ummah. So, he emigrated from America to the Land of al-Haramain, and began his Jihadi journey from there."
GIMF explained that Salam "then moved among several countries to support the Mujahideen and offer different material and media services for them" before eventually moving "to Pakistan to participate with his brothers in Jihad, but he was chosen by the leaders, due to his experience and knowledge in media work and translation into several languages, to complete the task of resisting the vicious media attack on the Mujahideen, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to support them in a material and media way and to bring their voice from the heart of the battle to Muslims."
Like other Americans involved in jihadist propaganda, such as Adam Gadahn, Samir Khan, and Anwar al-Awlaki, GIMF described Salam as a valuable asset for the jihadist movement, explaining that he "expended all his efforts and his energy to resist this vicious attack and bring the voice of the Mujahideen generally and the Mujahideen of the Taliban of Pakistan as well as the Mujahideen of al-Qaeda specifically in several languages." In addition to being a leader for GIMF, the group noted that Salam founded al-Qadisiyya Foundation for Media, which has released translations of jihadist propaganda in Urdu and Bengali, and "created local media groups and Jihadi websites and forums in Asian languages, especially Urdu, English, Bengali, and Pashto so as to protect the honor of the Mujahideen and respond to the religious accusations and lies of the media and bring the true story of Jihad and correct the image of the Mujahideen."
Highlighting Salam's endeavors, GIMF boasted, "He spread their news and releases to incite the Muslims for Jihad and to support their Mujahideen brothers. He also worked on exposing the hypocrisy of the corrupt groups present in Pakistan that work in the name of Islam and trade Jihad for the benefit of the apostate Pakistani intelligence and the American Crusade. He sought to terrorize the enemies of Allah and fight them with argumentation, clarification, and weapons, so as to fulfill the promise of Allah to the Mujahideen and defeat their enemies and grant victory to the religion of Allah over all their false religions and unjust laws. And our brother, may Allah have mercy on him, was careful to serve Jihad and his brother Mujahideen in all ways and methods, such that he wouldn't let any opportunity, big or small, pass in order serve or support them."
Furthermore, GIMF explained that Salam was very active on the most prominent jihadist forums, claiming that that he "administrated many websites and Jihadi forums, and he guided and planned and attacked the enemy masterfully." Though no specific forums were mentioned in the GIMF eulogy, the administration of the Urdu-language jihadist forum Bab-Ul-Islam posted a message announcing that Salam was an administrator. Likewise, an administrator of Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum, the primary jihadist forum in the English language, announced that the forum would soon be releasing a statement on Salam, intimating that Salam also played a role there.
The battle jihadists are waging is undeniably a battle of hearts and minds, and jihadists understand that they can not solely rely on violence to make their movement triumphant. Jihadist propaganda is filled with rhetoric not meant only to frighten their enemies but instead designed to convince others of their viewpoint. To potential recruits, jihadists argue that they can provide social justice, protect them from their enemies, and engender an environment where those who live righteously will be rewarded.
Individuals like Salam who are engaged in the jihadist media are crucial in spreading these messages to as wide an audience as possible. In particular, Salam's focus on Asian languages such as Urdu, Bengali, and Pashto made new strides in promoting jihadist propaganda, the vast majority of which is released in Arabic and is most often translated in English. By selecting languages that are underrepresented in jihadist media and spoken by hundreds of millions, Salam offered the jihadist movement a way to reach a much wider audience.
Although we can list the numerous achievements we have had in the past decade in dismantling al-Qaeda as an apparatus, including killing Usama bin Laden, Attiya Allah, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, our ability to stymie jihadist propaganda, the true lifeblood of the movement, has been much less successful. To the contrary, jihadists have only improved the quality of their propaganda and become more adept at turning technology against us, exploiting YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking websites to broadcast their message and recruit new members.