eveline lubbers on Wed, 7 Apr 2004 15:39:29 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 9/11 as the launch of the Al Queda brand

Some quotes from this interesting commend in the Observer, do read the
entire article, as it pleads to use modern spin and PR strategies to fight
Al Queda and neo-terrorism


Spinning past the gates of Hell 

We must use our heads, as well as force of arms, in the fight against
'neo-terrorism', says Jason McCue, arguing that the war will be won in the
media, not on the battlefield

Sunday March 28, 2004
The Observer 

The war against this neo-terrorism has three fronts: technological (an
arms and intelligence race over security), financial, and the ideological
battle waged through the mass media. Until we take the war to these new
battlegrounds, to address terrorism's increased effectiveness, we will not
win our 'war on terror'.

The most decisive battleground will be the ideological one. Neo-terrorists
have effectively created a brand of ideology that they can franchise to
the victims of poverty, ignorance and injustice throughout the world. They
rely on the modern media to deliver their corrupted brand message.  (...)

The al-Qaeda brand was properly launched in the West only on 9/11. Before
that it was a back-shelf product in an Arab souk. Post 9/11 it went
global. Al-Qaeda has understood that terrorism is fuelled by publicity.

The brand launch was memorable, not least for being held at the world's
most famous economic building. Al-Qaeda told no one, organised no guest
list, did not invite the press - but the spectacle was sufficient to
guarantee the al-Qaeda brand would become the most talked about product

To beat al-Qaeda, we must challenge the brand and educate people about the
flaws in the product; that its miracle cures for the underclasses are no
more effective as remedies than old-fashioned cures for hair loss or


The al-Qaeda brand is vulnerable to spin. Bin Laden, regardless of his
financial empire, strives to maintain an image of the classless,
revolutionary, freedom fighter, pictured in combat gear around camp fires.
Our PR machine should focus on his wealth, his harem, his absence from the
battlefield and his disturbed interpretation of Islam.

Our response to 9/11 guaranteed the creation of a Robin Hood figure within
the communities harbouring bin Laden. As a result, most terrorist
incidents around the world are blamed on al-Qaeda. This increases their
kudos and creates a romantic aspiration for the aggrieved or
disadvantaged. We must attack the myth of al-Qaeda, the sense that they
are all powerful, omnipresent and capable of toppling Western society.

It will not be the military or the police that finishes al-Qaeda but the
spin doctors, the media and the public. We must encourage our leaders to
use their heads rather than their might. We must reveal terrorists for
what they are: an opportunist ramshackle group of bloodthirsty extremists.
We must tackle ignorance, poverty and injustice but we must do so on
contemporary battlefields. These are no longer simply liberal ideals; they
are essential weapons in the war on neo- terror.


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