Al-Qaeda Propaganda Production at New High

Noah Shachtman points to an IntelCenter report that Al-Qaeda’s media production house, as-Sahab, is now releasing video and audio messages at a higher rate “than at any point since the inception” of the terrorist group.

In 2006, as-Sahab released 58 videos — about one every six days — tripling its total from the previous year. In the first three months of 2007, that rate has increased, to a video every five days.

IntelCenter credits the uptick to “increased production/release capability.” But, to me, it looks like another piece of evidence that “senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network.”

The two aren’t mutually exclusive, certainly. It seems quite likely, though, that this is mostly a function of changing technology and a natural evolution in the propaganda machine. After all, everyone and his dog is now putting out videos, podcasts, and the like in an effort to spread their message “virally” through “Web 2.0” technologies. Everybody from PR firms to the Heritage Foundation to Members of Congress are trying to catch that wave. Why wouldn’t al Qaeda just naturally do the same thing?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. On the other hand, reinforce success also comes to mind. Significant “direct action” success is pretty thin on the ground for AQ. There biggest win since 9/11 has had more to do with sapping the west will to fight (Spain and London not withstanding). So trying to push what is having the most effect and is relatively speaking low cost makes sense.

    Now the real effectiveness of the AQ PR vs the “free publicity” is certainly open to question.

  2. graywolf says:

    Why do they bother?

    They have the New York Times, LA TIMES, WaPo,Boston Globe, NBC, CBS,ABC, CNN, Reuters, Time, Newsweek and most of the media ad. nauseum pouring out more than enough propaganda.