With Zawahiri at the helm, Al Qaeda (AQ) continues to churn out propaganda of all kinds, but this most recent addition is unusual in that its main audience appears to be the very young. Get ready for Jihad cartoons.
These screen capture photos are a first glimpse of an Al Qaeda created comic book that are scheduled for release soon. SITE Intelligence Group reported that on July 17, an AQ member in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) member posted about the upcoming cartoons in a Jihadist forum. According to Site, the, AQAP creator of the cartoon:
"touted [it] as an 'educational production' to teach youths about the 'noble life' within a Shariah-based system, and wrote that it will contain depictions of AQAP operations and will incite youths to follow the steps of the fighters.
The posting in the Jihadist forum indicated that the comic will be officially sanctioned by AQAP at the highest level. It appeared that the poster planned to go through the AQ hierarchy before releasing the comic, probably to enhance its credentials among the young Jihadist community and thus appeal more to its intended audience. SITE explained this with further details from the forum posting in question:
"Upon questioning from fellow forum members and asking that he take advice from scholars about properly presenting the fighters, the jihadist wrote that he will submit the cartoon to scholars and AQAP's media arm, al-Malahem Foundation, for approval prior to its release."
Apparently, this week has been a big one for AQ's online propaganda efforts, as the Jihadist cyber community is also buzzing with the release of the sixth edition of Al Qaeda's "Inspire" English language magazine.
Long War Journal reports that this latest iteration of the AQ-produced periodical "Inspire" is dedicated to the memory of Osama Bin Laden, and the success of his replacement, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In a quote apparently intended to bolster confidence during a time when AQ is trying to overcome its first succession crisis, the Jihadist editors of Inspire wrote:
"After the martyrdom of Shaykh Usama, the al Qaeda central leadership selected Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri, may Allah preserve him, as the new Amir. America is aware that with his invaluable experience and impressive wisdom, the mujahedin continue to fight and lay down their lives for the truth until there remains none to be worshiped except Allah, The Exalted."
It remains to be seen whether Zawahiri, who is known to be less popular than Osama was among senior Jihadist ranks, will be able to direct the global terrorist organization effectively, or if the various factions of AQ around the world will become more autonomous and cut ties to central leadership.