Friday, June 30, 2006

icWales, Bin Laden video praises Al-Zarqawi, June 30 2006

"Osama bin Laden praised al Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the 'lion of holy war' in a new video posted on the internet today.

"The 19-minute message shows an old still photo of bin Laden in a split-screen next to images of al-Zarqawi taken from a previous video. A voice resembling bin Laden's narrates a tribute to the Jordanian-born militant, who was killed in a June 7 air strike north east of Baghdad."

Newsfactor/yahoo, Unlocking the Promise of Web 2.0, 30 June 2006, "The Internet is evolving. Whereas once it served mostly as a conduit for data, today the World Wide Web is turning into something more akin to a giant operating system, an immense interactive platform on which full-blown applications run in your browser and collaboration occurs in real time."

Guardian, G-had and suicide bombers: the rapper who likens Bin Laden to Che Guevara, 28 June 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

Reuters, Qaeda group says Russian hostages killed, 26 July 2006, MUIS reaching out to young Muslims about misinterpretations of Islam, 26 June 2006:

"Alami Musa, MUIS president, said: "Our young are discerning, educated. Nevertheless, they are an e-generation. They are open to the outside world and the Internet. And there can be many bad influences.

""So we must continuously reach out and engage the young so that any concepts of ideas which may appear and are distortions, we like them to open up so that we can correct those misperceptions or misunderstanding.""

This is an interesting piece on Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura. Some years ago, I undertook fieldwork in Singapore, and interviewed several people there. I was struck by the IT element within MUIS then, and their awareness of the potential impact of the net on the community there, so it is interesting to read this. I also wrote about MUIS in Virtually Islamic.

USA Today, Young Muslim women in Europe go to extremes to be virgins — again, 25 June 2006

"The procedures are legal but shrouded in silence — "something that passes through non-official channels," via friends or the Internet, said Dr. Nathan Wrobel. "There are circuits that lead women to me.""

TCSMedia, Open Sesamedia, 23 June 2006

Newsweek/MSNBC, In the Footsteps of Zarqawi: The Taliban's bloodthirsty top commander in southern Afghanistan scares almost everyone—even his allies and underlings. A profile in brutality, July 3-10 Issue refers to Mullah Dadullah Akhund

Informed Comment, CAIR: Miami Cult not Muslims, 23 June 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A number of claims in today's Guardian, which will be interesting to follow through. The articles also raises numerous questions. I would be interested in finding out more, and capturing the hard evidence. Anyway, here are some of the significant links. First, the interview with Martin Gilbertson, the IT person who apparently put together various materials for members of a Leeds group with (subsequent) links to the London bombers:

The Guardian, 'When I heard where the bombers were from I felt sick', 24 June 2006 This discusses his activities, incuding DVD editing, computer repair, firewall maintenance, email encryption, etc. He started in 2001 - it was only in 2003 he began to get concerned regarding the content. It seems that the group's IT knowledge was limited: "They also wanted me to access the videos of the beheadings of hostages in Iraq - I do actually have a sneaky way of getting to them, but said the government was blocking those sites, and that would be impossible." This is surprising: they are easy to find via several chat-rooms and sites.

Ed Vulliamy's piece, which took up several columns of the Guardian, looks at the story in more detail: The Guardian, IT expert: I worked with 7/7 bombers and warned police, 24 June 2006

It was followed by this from the Press Association, Police silent on terror bombs claim, 24 June 2006

There was a clip on BBC Newsnight about this last night, which can be seen/heard via BBC, Claim over London bombers warning, 24 June 2006

Gilbertson seems to have had a varied career path: he is presently working on a thesis on radical Islam in Leeds - which might make for an interesting read. He also once worked for Motorhead as a roadie, and was a Hell's Angel.

Watch this blog for any further updates on these claims, and responses. The DVD production element can be compared with yesterday's AP article (linked below).


Here's another review of Terror On The Internet. The New Arena, the New Challenges by Gabriel Weimann. This one is in NYT (via IHT), Review: Terror On The Internet. I have just bought a copy of this book, which comes just as I am putting the final touches to my next volume.

This was on TV last night - just in case you missed it: Khaleej Times, Al Jazeera airs Zawahiri video vowing to avenge Zarqawi, 23 June 2006, "Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri vowed in a videotape on Al Jazeera television Friday to avenge the death of the terror network’s Iraq frontman Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, killed in a US air raid June 7."

I have been watching quite a bit of al-Jazeera recently. There was something in the Guardian today by Simon Hoggart about David Frost getting ready for his new show on the channel, which I think will be around the Autumn.

Friday, June 23, 2006

This is an effective article on the As-Sahab media operation. Writer Kathy Gannon has interviewed one of the cameramen used by aQ, who explains the production processes (in part) AP/The Standard, A date with the emir of al-Qaeda, 22 June 2006. I was particularly interested in the following comment:

"The distribution network appears to have no chain of command. Distribution falls to a variety of hands, including members of Pakistan's best- organized religious party, Jamaat-e- Islami, which once had close links with Afghanistan's outlawed Hezb-e-Islami party and its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Also involved are loyalists of a second Hezb-e-Islami faction, led by Yunus Khalis, who welcomed bin Laden to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996."

MTV, The Death Of Al Qaeda Leader Al-Zarqawi — A Game Coming To Your PC This Week, 22 June 2006 "The result of harried breaking-news development by a handful of game creators in New York, "Kuma\ War Episode 75: The Death of Zarqawi" will put players in the position of a U.S. soldier just outside the house in Hibhib, Iraq, where al-Zarqawi was killed." There is further information o Kuma Reality Games on their website. I haven't played these myself.

SITE Institute, As-Sahab Video within the Series of the “Pyre for Americans in Afghanistan” Showing the Bombing of a Vehicle in Konar, 22 June 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

State News, Modern day romance breaks barriers, 22 June 2006, "Cultural differences can carry a large weight in relationships, but this one wouldn't have even been possible without the Internet, which connected two people from across the world living completely different lives. Maybe it took a younger generation to overlook cultural prejudice and stigmatization, but we can all learn from this extreme case." commentary on the various implications of this case of long-distance online romance.

mosnews, Iraqi Al-Qaeda Group Says Kidnapped Russian Diplomats Killed, 22 June 2006 "A group loyal to al-Qaeda in Iraq said it killed four kidnapped Russian diplomats, the Bloomberg web-site reported on Wednesday quoting an Internet posting found by the Washington-based Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute."

CNN, Afghan president calls for arrest of al Qaeda No. 2: Al-Zawahiri video urges young Afghans to oust Americans, 22 June 2006, "Unlike recent messages from al-Zawahiri, which appeared to have been directed at the American people, the latest video does not have English subtitles. Al-Zawahiri spoke in Arabic, and Web sites carried transcripts of his message in Arabic, Pashtu and Farsi, two other languages widely spoken in Afghanistan.", Bank Islam Projecting 200,000 Credit Card Customers By June 2007, 22 June 2006, "BIMB's offers the zakat payment scheme through its Visa and Mastercard syariah credit cards, complete with security features and special chips to prevent any cloning."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

AKI, 9/11: al-Qaeda video identifies 20th hijaacker, 21 June 2006, "A new al-Qaeda video confirms a statement posted to the internet earlier this month, which said that the 20th hijacker of the September 11 attacks on the United States was not Zacarias Moussaoui but a Saudi national, Fawaz al-Nashimi, also known by the name of Turki Bin Fheid al-Muteiri."

Reuters, Iraq Qaeda says to kill Russian hostages: Web, 21 June 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reuters, Iraq Qaeda leader killed two US soldiers: Web, 20 June 2006, "The new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq "slit the throats" of two U.S. soldiers whose bodies were found in Baghdad, according to a statement posted on the Internet on Tuesday."

Reuters, Egypt to release award-winning blogger from jail, 20 June 2006
, "Egyptian authorities on Tuesday ordered the release of an award-winning blogger arrested last month during protests in support of judges demanding greater judicial independence, relatives and friends said."

Trade Arabia, Al Bawaba launches web-based music player, June 20, 2006 Main page to try this out is here.

CSM/Yahoo News, Saudi women unveil opinions online, 19 June 2006 "As Internet usage continues to climb here, so do the numbers of women who have started Web logs, or blogs, to express themselves in ways they might never do in public.", First UK hacking course to produce more 'white hats', 190 June 2006

Toronto Star, Terrorist 007 Off-line, 17 June 2006. Summary of Younis Tsouli's alleged activities

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Iran Democracy Monitor No. 13, June 9, 2006, "If you can't beat the blogs, join them":
"In tandem with its efforts to control access to online content, the Iranian government appears to be building an Internet discourse of its own. In recent weeks, the regime has officially established an 'Office of Religious Blogs' designed to provide research, training, and support to clerical bloggers operating inside the Islamic Republic. Based in Qom, the center claims to have already trained some 500 novice bloggers in the use of the Internet as part of an effort to craft a pro-regime message aimed at the growing number of web-savvy Iranians." (Tehran RASA, May 29, 2006) via SFGate

Sunday, June 11, 2006

AP/The Plain Dealer, Insurgents show 3 beheadings of Shiites on Internet, 11 June 2006, "Insurgents signaled the fight is still on after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death, posting an Internet video Saturday showing the beheading of three alleged Shiite death squad members in revenge for the deaths of Sunnis."

VOA, Al-Qaida in Iraq Threatens Large Scale Attacks, 11 June 2006, "The terror group Al-Qaida in Iraq has vowed to carry out large scale attacks following the killing of its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in a U.S. airstrike last week.

"The group says in an Internet statement that its future attacks will "shake the enemy like an earthquake and rattle them out of sleep.""

Arab Herald, Syrian online journalist to serve six months in prison, 10 June 2006, ""The Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday that a Syrian online journalist was sentenced by a military court for articles advocating rights for Syria's Kurdish minority, and criticizing the ruling Baath Party.

"Muhammad Ghanem, editor of the news Web site Surion, was found guilty Tuesday of insulting the president, undermining the state's dignity, and inciting sectarian divisions, according to an e-mail sent by Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, to The Associated Press."

Friday, June 09, 2006

AP/USA Today, Successor to Zarqawi still unknown, but names emerge, 9 June 2006, "Several militant Web forums were flooded with messages of well-wishers pledging to "hear and obey" the man they claimed was the new "emir," or leader, of al-Qaeda in Iraq: Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Iraqi.", Nigeria dominates west Africa’s IT market, 9 June 2006, "The International Data Corporation, the premier global provider of market intelligence for the information and communications technology industry, has revealed that Nigeria controls over 55% of the west African personal computer market."
CNN, U.S. military: Al-Zarqawi alive when troops arrived, 9 June 2006, "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was alive on a stretcher and tried to move off it when U.S. troops reached the wounded terrorist leader after his safe house had been bombed, a U.S. general said at a news conference Friday."

SITE Institute, A Statement about the Martyrdom of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from the Echo of Jihad Magazine [Sada al-Jihad], June 8 2006. Also see A Eulogy for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by Lewis Attiya Allah. There is plenty of associated material in chat rooms today, should you wish to delve further ...

New York Times, Zarqawi pioneered, perfected use of Internet for terrorist propaganda, 9 June 2006 "Zarqawi's Web propaganda created and probably embellished his own reputation in the Iraqi insurgency. But it also helped secure the Internet as a center of terrorist recruitment and instruction, partially supplanting the role of now-destroyed al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan, according to counterterrorism officials and analysts." [also updated here]

Reuters, Zarqawi more powerful as a myth than as a man, 8 June 2006 "The video at least gave U.S. forces hunting Zarqawi a better idea of what he looked like. When he began his campaign of high-profile suicide bombings in 2003, with bloody attacks on the Jordanian embassy, the United Nations and a revered Shi'ite leader, Washington had only the haziest information on him."

zaman, Bin Laden and Zarqawi Connection Still a Mystery, 9 June 2006

Independent, Robert Fisk: Zarqawi's end is not a famous victory, nor will it bring Iraq any nearer to peace, 9 June 2006 [non-tech, but significant opinion piece ... unfortunately requires subscription or newspaper purchase]

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Wired, Baghdad USA, 14.06 "Roadside bombs. Hostile insurgents. 1,200 extras in Arab dress. Welcome to Louisiana and the Army camp known as the Box, where the violence is fake but the fear is for real." Interesting piece that I just picked up from the print edition, which is now live on the Wired site.
Times Online, British computer whizz-kid exports terror via internet, 7 June 2006, "An internet trail left by a British computer expert has led investigators to an intricate terror network spreading from the backstreets of Baghdad through cells of young militants living in European capitals to Islamic extremists plotting car-bomb attacks in North America.", Internet may have played role in bomb plot, 7 June 2006, "Police believe the suspects in the alleged bomb plot in Toronto may have been part of a growing trend of cyber-jihadism.

"Canadian authorities estimate there are as many as 4,500 jihadist websites, and they've become the main networking tool for radicals." I am not sure how they calculate these figures... I am still bemused (in this and other cases) that this is merely a suspicion, given the phenomenon has been active for several years.

Atlantic Monthly, Jihad 2.0., July/August 2006 subscription only for this, so I have only seen the opening paragraph. It's about 'Irhabi 007', who has featured on these pages before.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006, The Internet a major tool in spreading extremism, 5 June 2006, "There's no firm evidence of involvement by the al Qaeda network.

"But at any given moment, there are an estimated 4,500 terrorist-related Web sites accessible on the Internet. And the Internet, in recent years, has become "the major hotspot" for the radicalization of homegrown Islamic terrorists." Not exactly 'headlines' for regular readers of this blog...

Some speculation from Jawa Report, Canadian Jihadi Linked to Cyberterrorist Irhabi 007, 5 June 2006, Mini Muezzin Confuses Locals, 6 June 2006 (non-tech!)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Afkar produced Under Ash a couple of years ago. Here's an update of their latest product in this interesting piece by Rhonda Roumani of Christian Science Monitor: CSM, Muslims craft their own video games, 5 June 2006 "Set to be released in September, "Al-Quraysh" is a strategy game that tells the story of the first 100 years of Islam's history from the viewpoint of four different nations - Bedouins, Arabs, Persians, and Romans." . Afkar Media are based in Syria. Content on their central site is limited at present (in Arabic and English). If you want to find out more, there is an interview from May 2005 (with screenshots) available with Afkar Media at

AP/, Al-Zarqawi urges Sunnis to fight, 3 June 2006, "The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq railed against Shi'as in a four-hour-long audiotape harangue posted on the Internet, saying militias are raping women and killing Sunnis and the community must fight back."

Article on Shannen Rossmiller, 'cyber-sleuth', who has previously been featured on these pages: Washington Post, In Montana, Casting A Web for Terrorists, Online Sleuth Hunts Down Suspects Worldwide, June 4, 2006 "One of Rossmiller's strategies is to warn jihadists that they are risking the lives of their Islamic brothers by speaking too candidly online.

"She calls her Arabic skills "workable." In 2002, she took an eight-week, online Arabic course. Later that year, she went to Buffalo for a two-week course that focused on grammar. But when it comes to online deception, perfect Arabic does not matter much, Astley said. "A lot of the people that are being dealt with are not the cream of educated society," he said."

More on Sawafi: Bahrain Tribune, Sawafi business model will be close to Google's, 3 June 2006 "Current search algorithms in the usual Internet search engines are hardly capable of observing even the simplest morphological conditions required to process Arabic-language contents in a meaningful way for users. That is why search engines have so far been under-used in Arabic.", Chinese electronics giant enters Mid-East market with huge portfolio, June 04 - 2006 the 'giant' being TLC: "The Arab world is a major trading partner for China, with over US$10.78 billion in trade reported for 2005,' explained Mr. Liang Yaowen. 'This favorable environment is encouraging leading Chinese business groups such as TCL to explore the opportunities in this discerning market and build their profile outside of the Far East.'", Oman set for cyber law, 5 June 2006 "Oman is set to introduce a cyber law before the end of the year, reported the Times of Oman. The head of the Information Technology Authority, Dr Salim bin Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, said that the law has been drafted and is being looked at by the working group, which includes the Central Bank of Oman and Omantel. The law covers e-transactions, e-commerce and all aspects of e-law.", Google has today introduced a Gmail interface in Arabic, 5 June 2006 Arab Mobile Telecom Operators Growing, 30 May 2006, "Arab telecom operators served 85 million cellular subscribers and 30 million mainlines in 2005. A new report from Arab Advisors Group, “A Scorecard of Key Performance Indicators of Arab Telecom Operators,” analyzes and ranks 18 fixed voice operators and 39 cellular operators in 18 Arab countries."

Friday, June 02, 2006, Islamic transactions have much in common with west, 1 June 2006 non-tech (at least directly), but interesting - part of a series, some of which require subscription.

Asharq Al-Awasat. Saudi Arabia and US Host Largest Number of Visitors of Arabic Online News Sites, 28 May 2006, "Most viewers of Arabic-language news portals in the region are in Saudi Arabia, while the majority of Arabic-speaking users from outside the Arab world live in the United States. Moreover, the gender gap persists with all portals reporting that most of their viewers are males, according to a report by the Arab Advisors Group." This report appears to require a subscription, like much of the Group's output.
Wasington Post/, Egypt arrests bloggers rocking Mubarak's boat, 1 June 2006 update on imprisoned blogger Alaa Seif al-Islam: "The legal status of the jailed bloggers and other detainees distresses their relatives and friends: Under Egypt's emergency laws, which have been in place for 25 years, the bloggers can be jailed indefinitely. A special court reviews such detentions only every 15 days. Some prisoners have been jailed for more than a decade."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Scoop Independent Media, U.S. Psy-Ops Countered By Islamic Digital Propaganda, 1 June 2006, "The United States dominion over 'psy-ops' and propaganda is no longer unchallenged. Islamic insurgents throughout the Muslim world are producing digital video clips with ever-increasing sophistication. The products of this technological revolution carry a double-edged message of 'glory' for youthful 'martyrs' and vengeance against the West." [contains links to video clip - which I haven't had time to view yet], Pentagon mistakes EA game for terrorist agitprop?, 31 May 2006, "There are reports that the Pentagon and defense contractor SAIC in early May showed footage from a standard add-on package to the Electronic Arts popular Battlefield 2 video game, claiming it was a clever al Qaeda manipulation of that game that was being used for propaganda." As discussed below [together with the clip]. It also refers to an interesting interview with the designer of the game, Samir, which featured on gamepolitics, Was Congress Misled by "Terrorist" Game Video? We Talk to Gamer Who Created the Footage, 11 May 2006 - which also has some useful feedback from readers. Samir discusses the relationship between the 'game' and Team America, and clarifies one issue: I thought I knew the background music from somewhere, turns out it comes from 'Lion of the Desert'. This also links to reaction from Trey Parker (Team America/South Park). Personal note: I am not a game player, outside of occasional forays into Star Wars games, but feel this would be a good area for future academic research - if only I could get some funding for a PS3., Islamic Art Museum With No Frontiers, 30 May 2006, "Discover Islamic Art ( is the pilot project of the MWNF Virtual Museum program. For the first time, physical exhibition venues located all over Europe and the Mediterranean come together to create a joint virtual museum, thus establishing an authentic museum with no frontiers of Islamic art in the Mediterranean where visitors will be able to discover objects, monuments and archaeological sites from 14 countries and relate them to each other." I commend the work of the MWNF, and also their publications series, which includes a first-class book on Tunisia which I used when travelling there some time back.

AP/Mail & Guardian Online, Moroccan fatwa declares women cannot lead prayers, 1 June 2006, "The fatwa came weeks after Morocco's first 50 female "morchidat," religious guides, completed training by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which oversees Morocco's mosques."