Center for Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman

Today Danger Room is reporting on an ABC news story about a video, purportedly posted by AQ operatives, calling for the use of WMDs against the West. The story quotes an FBI spokesman to support the claim.

The trouble is, the tape appears to be a mashup of previously released videos, apparently compiled by a prankster or freelance AQ sympathizer. As Evan Kohlman reports:

There is no indication whatsoever that Al-Qaida’s As-Sahab Media Foundation is preparing to release anything in the next 24 hours. There has been no notification posted on the usual channels, there are no glitzy advertisements, and there is no credible electronic chatter, period.

Maybe this video wasn’t released by As-Sahab, but is that a distinction without a difference? Most experts agree that these days al Qaeda is less of an operational force and more of a social movement. As such it is considered even more dangerous than old-school AQ, as independent, roll-your-own cells with no connections to the Mother Ship take it upon themselves to conduct operations–like the European mass transit bombings…or the mash-up just released. Writing in 2005, Tiina Tarvainen concluded that

growing proliferation of knowledge and technology and the increasingly rootless and ubiquitous nature of global jihad, are likely to converge, thus rendering a WMD attack all but inevitable.

The tone of reports on this incident suggest that it’s not to be taken seriously as a threat. But based on Tarvainen’s analysis, perhaps we should not feel so reassured.