How Online Propaganda Works

Shmukh user al-Sakit argues that you need a wide distribution of jihadi propaganda on mainstream forums in order to attract a small amount of people.  He observes that the three top mainstream Arabic forums have one million users each.  If you post jihadi propaganda to all of them, only 10% (300,000) are likely to look at it.  Of those, 10% (30,000) will like what they see.  Of those, 10% (3000) will embrace the idea of jihad. Of those, 10% (300) will propagandize. Of those, 10% (30) will go out to fight in a jihad.  Of those, 10% (3) will seek martyrdom.   That’s much the way I think about it, which is why countering the effects of jihadi propaganda is so difficult.  It just needs to mobilize a few.

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Zawahiri at the Helm

In a statement released online nine hours ago via the Fajr Media Center and dated June 2011, the General Command of al-Qaeda declared its decision to appoint Ayman al-Zawahiri the new head of al-Qaeda.  This move was not unanticipated except by those with strange Awlaki/Libi fixations.  Leah Farrall guessed it would be so on organizational grounds and Murad and I parsed Zawahiri’s eulogy to Bin Laden to arrive at the same conclusion. In addition to naming Zawahiri as the new amir, here are other highlights from the statement: A special shout out to Palestine, promising its people that al-Qaeda is fighting for their liberation. A reaffirmation of Zawahiri’s oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar, saying that “We stress to our brothers in Afghanistan that we are with you, in spirit and what we possess, under the leadership of commander of the faithful Mullah Muhammad Omar. “ A shout out to Umar Abd

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Now We Know

There are going to be loads of conferences this September looking back on 9/11.  This is the one I plan to attend: “10 Years Later: Insights on al-Qaeda’s Past and Future through Captured Records” sponsored by the Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC) at the National Defense University on Sept. 13-14.  The CRRC has picked up where West Point’s CTC left off and is the US government’s primary conduit for releasing loads of material from the Harmony Database, which houses scans and translations of documents captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Over the last decade, these documents have yielded much of what we know about al-Qaeda’s inner workings, and they continue to be a treasure trove of fresh finds for grad students and scholars alike. The CRRC is taking proposals for papers now (deadline June 15) and they want drafts by August 15 (email Joseph Simons here).  I hope Anzalone, Zelin, Farrall,

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