Battered by a French-led military campaign in Mali, al-Qaida's North African arm is trying something new to stay relevant: Twitter. The PR campaign by the terror network seeks to tap into social grievances and champion mainstream causes such as unemployment, all in bid to reverse decline and win new followers.
Indeed, for much of recent history, Iran and al Qaeda have essentially been enemies. As Jonathan Kay points out in Canada's National Post, Iran almost went to war with the al Qaeda-friendly Taliban in 1998 after Taliban fighters killed nine Iranian diplomats in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. What followed were threats by the Taliban to attack Iranian cities, and the massing of nearly 70,000 Iranian troops near the Afghanistan border.
The United States is deliberately sparring with Al-Qaeda supporters and militants online aiming to shoot down extremist messages and win over hearts and minds, a US official said yesterday. Seeking out the virtual spaces where "Al-Qaeda and its supporters lurk" is part of America's strategy to combat violent extremism, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine told students at the University of Maryland.
U.S. airstrikes remain the most reliable means of targeting AQAP members in the near term, but overreliance on them is unsustainable if the U.S. wants to maintain a positive relationship with Yemen for years to come. The negative impact of collateral civilian damage and hitting misidentified targets can quickly undermine U.S. foreign assistance and public diplomacy efforts.
During the confrontation, the CIA also conducted revenge attacks in Pakistan; as following differences between American State Department and the CIA, at the occasion of almost every high level meeting between Pakistani and American authorities, the CIA carried out a drone attack. American premier agency effectively undermined public diplomacy of its own government.
The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications ...is tightly focused on undermining the terrorist propaganda and dissuading potential recruits... It uses public diplomacy’s communication tools, and its messages and videos are attributed to the Department of State.
In a first of its kind, al-Shabaab militants took journalists to witness al-Qaida's battle for Somali hearts and minds. It was the first time the group had spoken publicly in Somalia and the first time it had distributed aid. With thousands of destitute people facing an uncertain future, the camps are fertile ground for recruitment by radicals.
Fewer than 10 diplomats make up the State Department’s digital-outreach team, which is charged with countering al Qaeda’s recruitment efforts via social networks, blog posts and Internet videos, according to current and former officials.