Sunday, October 01, 2006

Does This Background Bring Out My Eyes?

In this week's New York Times article, "Al Qaeda Increasingly Reliant on Media," the reporter describes how the Al Qaeda media production arm, Al Sahab, uses the Internet to publish and distribute video content and jihadist messages via sympathetic intermediaries. As this screenshot of hate monger Azzam the American demonstrates, pro-terrorist rhetoric is presenting a more academic and less militaristic digital image to the Islamic world. The NYT story specifically comments on this change of rhetorical scene.

What is most striking about the messages is their tone, terrorism analysts say. In the past, the group’s leaders were generally depicted as soldiers in battle, often filmed outdoors with weapons in the background. But the more recent communiqués show Al Qaeda’s leaders in the comfort of a living room or office, set against bookshelves with religious texts. The group has also taken to quoting Western authors and famous speeches, in what seems to be an effort to reach those with Western sensibilities.

Of course, this made me revisit my own online photo, which is set in an exterior scene above the city of Paris. France is a pretty good anti-government locale, but apparently a shelf of tomes or a computer in the background makes one look even more like a political threat. So I thought that I might make myself look a little more like a radical subversive by putting some books behind me. Hopefully this bookish refurbishing of my image will put me on the right kind of watch list.



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