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Hunting al Qaeda in Iraq's Propaganda Cells

12:48 PM, Nov 28, 2007 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Image from recently released Al Furqan / Al Qaeda in Iraq execution video. Click to view.

After nearly a two month lull in videos released by Al Furqan, al Qaeda in Iraq's primary propaganda arm, two new videos of attacks on U.S. forces have been released over the past three days. Al Qaeda in Iraq is attempting to reestablish its propaganda presence in Iraq, while Multinational Forces Iraq is seeking to dismantle the network.

"Despite the recent loss of numerous cells across Iraq, the media wing of al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) has produced a second video product, which the al Fajr Media Center posted Tuesday night on the main Jihadi message boards," Nick Grace of Threatswatch reported. "The one minute video, called 'Destruction Of An-American Hummer Vehicle,' is the latest in the ongoing ISI [Islamic State of Iraq] media series 'Roman and Apostate Hell in al-Rafedain Land' and, according to the accompanying Web statement, shows an IED attack on a hummer in the az-Zobayer bin al-Awaam region of Diyala Province." The first video released showed the brutal execution of nine Iraqis, purportedly Shia who served in the Interior Ministry's police commando unit in Diyala province.

Image from recently released Al Furqan / Al Qaeda in Iraq execution video. Click to view.

Multinational Forces Iraq began to heavily target al Qaeda's media apparatus over the summer of 2007. The capture of Khalid Abdul Fatah Da'ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq and Islamic State of Iraq leader and close associate of Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda's commander, was the first major blow against al Qaeda's media network. Mashadani, also known as Abu Shahed, was al Qaeda's media emir. He confirmed that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, is an imaginary figure created by himself and al Masri.

After al Masri's capture, the Coalition began rolling up numerous al Qaeda media cells and operatives of Al Furqan. "Since the surge began, we've uncovered eight separate al Qaeda media offices and cells, have captured or killed 24 al Qaeda propaganda cell members and have discovered 23 terabytes of information," said Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, the chief Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Forces Iraq during a press briefing at the end of October.

Since the briefing at the end of October, several more cells have been dismantled and scores of al Qaeda media operatives have been killed or captured. During the month of November, Special Forces teams killed two media operatives and captured 44 suspected associates of the cells.

Image from recently released Al Furqan / Al Qaeda in Iraq execution video. Click to view.

On November 12, Coalition Special Forces hunter-killer teams captured the media emir of Diyala province. In a separate operation in Samarra, the Special Forces teams "targeted an al-Qaeda media headquarters and safe house, also believed to be used by foreign terrorists." One terrorist was killed after reaching for a suicide vest, while another seven were captured. Six days later, Special Forces "captured one wanted individual and detained 10 other suspects while targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq's media network" in Baghdad and Samarra.