Understanding Online Radicalization: The Videos

These videos are then mixed with the blatantly violent speeches which he has produced, giving Awlaki an edge in recruiting youths who would not otherwise be interested in al-Qaeda’s message. He promotes the message that the West is at war with Islam and scholars who don’t speak about this have been bought by the CIA. Jihad is the only answer and the goal is an Islamic state ruled by shariah law.

Awlaki has also directly addressed jihadi media on the importance of their message. In his “Message about the Media,” Awlaki tells the story of Abdulelah Haidar Shaea, a Yemeni journalist who was temporarily imprisoned for promoting al-Qaeda. “A journalist is responsible before Allah for what he presents to people, as the media role in shaping minds is clear,” he remind jihadi video makers.

Many films also draw from preexisting Arabic media, and simply subtitle or dub them in English. Despite the simplicity of just translating existing mediums, it remains important for would-be terrorists to receive messages directly from al-Qaeda’s senior leadership and to feel themselves a part of the larger jihadi world.

English-language jihadi voices have even become celebrities in the Arabic jihadi world. Anwar al-Awlaki’s works are being translated into Arabic, while Adam Gadahn gave a speech in English for the new full length feature titled “For Incitement and Publishing: You Are Held Responsible Only for Yourself.”

“By the grace of Allah, the enemies’ interests are today spread all over the place and easily accessible,” Gadahn says. “So the opportunity to carry out the divine obligation of fighting the enemies of Allah is available to anyone who has the will and determination, regardless of where he might be.”

“And I advise every brother who wants to work for this religion not to undertake any action before taking advantage of the wide range of resources available today on the internet,” he adds.