Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Rhetoric of al Qaeda and the Responsibility of the Media

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of The Counterterrorism Blog has a very interesting post on an apparent change in tactics by al Qaeda, typified by the recent message released by Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy. Zawahiri's message echoes that of an earlier message released by him as well as the infamous pre-American election bin Laden video. Both men have taken to mixing their threats of apocalyptic violence against the United States and its allies with an olive branch-type approach to the effect of: "If you leave us alone, we will leave you alone". Mr. Gartenstein-Ross, however, correctly apprehends that the path of appeasement and strategic disengagement from the Muslim world would only hasten the appearance of an Islamic super caliphate that ultimately would be an even greater threat to the West and to the peoples subject to the caliphate.

al-Qaeda, unfortunately, is probably taking its rhetorical cues from Western media outlets, which may appear to the non-Western world to be the official organs of government, when, in fact, they are anything but. Thus, although as Mr. Gartenstein-Ross points out, there are those in the West who advocate dialogue with al-Qaeda, the vast majority would rather see the heads of that organization strung up from the nearest available light pole.

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