The jihadi raid of a major Pakistani naval airforce base in the country''s largest city, Karachi, follows a well-established model used by al-Qaida and Taliban fighters on the ground. Terrorists across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and other locations can be seen following the same pattern. The overall concept is simple: Gain entry to the "enemy''s" military base, kill as many soldiers and destroy as much equipment as possible, and dig in, engaging soldiers for as long as possible. The Karachi infiltration and siege, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, achieved all of those aims. The LA Times has described it as being a possible revenge attack in response to the Osama Bin Laden killing. It took over 12 hours to put down, with several dead on both sides, despite the large numbers Pakistani special forces flooding the area. Aircraft were destroyed in the attack as well. "The brazen, commando-style attack was the country''s worst since militants stormed the army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and took hostages in 2009, setting off a 22-hour standoff that left 23 dead, including nine militants," the Times reported. This type of attack is designed to lower the morale of the targeted armed forces and keep al-Qaida in the headlines. Often enough, a jihadi terror cell member will film the attack from afar, and then use the footage to create powerful online propaganda, aimed at boasting of al-Qaida''s victory and recruiting more "martyrs."One such video, of an attack on a US base in Afghanistan last year, was produced by al-Qaida''s main media production department, as-Sahab, and translated into English last week by members of the al-Qaida affiliated Ansar al-Mujahideen website. The video, called "The expedition of the two sheikhs," was narrated by an authorative-sounding Arabic speaker, and his words were translated through English subtitles appearing at the bottom of the screen. The narrator began by responding to criticism of al-Qaida terrorism and the accusation that many Muslim lives were lost in such attacks.
"The truth is that those who keep close proximity to civilians are the Americans... and these pictures show us that the Americans mostly build their miltiary bases besides the markets and inside inhabited villages... [to prevent] mujahadeen from targeting them with rockets," said the narrator, as the camera zoomed in on a US military base in Afghanistan.
"Let''s now go to our hero, Luqman the Meccan. who was still waiting for the road to be free from the cars and trucks of the public... it was all for the care of Muslim blood," the narrator said, as a large truck could be seen driving towards the base.
"The hero went toward the main gate with his truck that was full of explosives... he arrived at the gate and blew it up among a crowd of American soldiers and their agents. This way, he opened the way for two of his fellow [raiders]," the narrator said, as the truck was seen nearing the gate.In the background, a prayer-like song is heard, and the following words are sung: "It is up to Allah and not anyone else... Allah is the one to be worshipped."
An enormous explosion rips through the center of the screen, as "Luqman the Meccan" detonates his suicide truck bomb at the gate. The song continues as a follow-up explosion sends huge orange flames towards the sky: "It is he who breaks the chain and [sets up] the bombs to blow up." A third epxlosion is then seen, before gunfire erupts. "To see the men who implement jihad as long as life extends," the song goes on. The narrator''s voice comes back on: "After the attack, the two heroes, Musa the Afghani and Mus''ab the Turkish, went toward the main gate. Surrounded with the care of God, approaching the enemy in full courage. That is unbearable except to those who loved meeting Allah."Two distant figures can be seen in the footage entering the base.
The narrator claimed the two gunmen engaged US forces in a gun battle lasting over 4 hours which resulted in large casualties. The video shows a helicopter landing at the base, and dozens of US ground troops later running towards base. Through this type of online propaganda, al-Qaida seeks to capitalize on past attacks to create future jihadis.
My recently published book, Virtual Caliphate, takes the reader into the heart of al-Qaeda''s internet presence.