Saturday, April 29, 2006


Night Launch.

Jihadis Use Media as a Weapon

Jihadis place a great deal of emphasis on developing comprehensive public relations and communication strategies to aid their side in the media war.

That’s according to communication researchers at Arizona State University who studied recently declassified al-Qaida documents and other open source reports captured in Iraq and Afghanistan during U.S. military operations.

“Their strategies are crafted after careful audience analysis and message adaptation, two of the most fundamental rules underlying any communication or public relations campaign,” write the authors of a report released this week titled: “Communication and Media Strategy in the Jihadi War of Ideas.”

Contributing to the report are faculty members and graduate students in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Professor Steven Corman, who co-authored the report with graduate student Jill Schiefelbein, says that in his experience “people are surprised the jihadis think of media as a weapon.”

Yet, by using text analysis techniques to review nearly 300 documents, some recently released from the Department of Defense’s HARMONY database, the researchers concluded that jihadis place a great importance on media and public relations as part of their overall strategy.

“Their strategy is not hard to discern,” Corman says. “All you have to do is listen to what they say and what they worry about.”...

“During the Cold War, America had a robust academic effort to better understand the communist ideology. We are not seeing a parallel research effort today.

Scholars have been hesitant to engage in this conversation, in part because this is such a politically charged topic, and, in part because they’ve lacked access to data,” says Jarret Brachman, [an assistant professor and director of research at the center.

The Combating Terrorism Center is a Department of Defense entity, housed at West Point].

“ASU’s work in this area will hopefully catalyze more academic institutions to undertake similar research,” he says, “helping us to better understand and combat the radical ideology we face today.”...