Branding al-Qaida as Losers Through the British Media

In an attempt to "taint the al-Qaida brand," a British counter-terrorism unit has targeted the BBC and other domestic media outlets. A report from the UK research, information and communications unit described efforts to discredit al-Qaida (AQ) by promoting messages that the terrorist group is losing support, that "they are not heroes and don't have answers," and that "they harm you, your country and your livelihood." The unit is mostly sending information to "overseas communicators" such as British embassy and consulate staffers and others "working with overseas influencers and opinion formers." But the counter-terrorism report adds: "We are pushing this material to UK media channels, eg, a BBC radio programme exposing tensions between AQ leadership and supporters. And a restricted working group will communicate niche messages through media and non-media." The report also advocates using new media to "channel messages through volunteers in internet forums." The counter-terrorism unit's material "is a mixture of recent news reports and articles from Arabic, Middle Eastern and North African news sources illustrating the theme of 'AQ is in decline' as well as articles from the New York Times, the Observer, Newsweek and American websites," reports Alan Travis.