The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

The Importance and Unimportance of Bin Laden Videos

Posted by vmsalama on September 8, 2007

My academic thesis focuses on questions like this one.  The release of a new Osama bin Laden video commemorating the 6th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks is raising questions as to the significance of such videos.  – VS

 Courtesy of the New York Times

Left, Osama bin Laden in an a video broadcast in 2004. Right, he appears in a recent banner advertisement on an Islamic militant Web site.

Counterterrorism Blog

By Douglas Farah

Click here for the Counterterrorism Blog

There is an interesting debate ongoing over whether the mass media, and particularly Arab-language television, should broadcast and assign great importance to the videos of al Qaeda leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden.

Do the broadcasts help create a mystique around a cult figure that inspires those who want to participate in the broader al Qaeda project, even on an ad hoc basis? Or are such broadcasts necessary for the general public to see and understand al Qaeda, to understand the enemy more clearly? Or both, and does it make any difference?

I think it is both, and that in the Internet age it matters little what is broadcast on air. Those who want to access the entire speech will be able to do so in a matter of hours, can download and forward it with great speed and efficiency. If there are hidden messages to followers, keeping the broadcasts off the air are hardly likely to be a deterrent or keep the message from getting through.

Broadcasting bin Laden’s speeches, in whole or in part, are far less dangerous than the radical, hate-filled sermons that fill many mosques in London every week, as the Times of London documents.

My full blog is here.September 7, 2007 01:32 PM    Print


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