July 13, 2007
Al Qaeda media center in Iraq
In his press briefing the other day MNF-Iraq spokesman, Maj. Gen. Bergner explained the discovery of a major enemy media center capable of producing DVDs, CDs (56 every 8 hrs.), posters, etc. Here is an excerpt from his opening comments.
Al Qaeda in Iraq organizes itself into both geographic and functional networks. This chart shows the results of some of our operations that have killed or captured 26 high-level al Qaeda leaders during May and June, along with the positions that they held.Speaking from a functional perspective, 11 of these were emirs who were city or local al Qaeda leaders; seven were facilitators who smuggled foreigners, weapons and money into Iraq; five were cell leaders who commanded terrorist units that worked for the emirs; and three were vehicle-borne IED network leaders.From a geographical perspective, we are conducting operations throughout Iraq, with particular effectiveness against al Qaeda leadership in Mosul and Baghdad, though we clearly have more work to do in both areas. In addition to the emirs, facilitators and cell leaders, during this same period, there have been hundreds of other al Qaeda members killed or captured.Our operations are also impacting al Qaeda's infrastructure. Last month, we uncovered an al Qaeda media center near Samarra. The facility, which was not much to look at on the outside, was in fact a major media production center and distribution center for al Qaeda in Iraq. It was called the Al-Furqan Media Productions by AQI. It produced CDs, DVDs, posters, pamphlets, and web-related propaganda products and contained documents clearly identifying al Qaeda in Iraq's intent to use media as a weapon. The building contained 65 hard drives, 18 thumb drives, over 500 CDs and 12 stand-alone computers.Pictured behind me is one of the graphics we found on a hard drive.It represents AQI's view of the areas it claimed to control in Iraq in early March. It also asserts AQI dominated much of Anbar and northern Iraq, which by any measure was clearly not the truth. We also found a sampling of other propaganda documents: a letter that gives instructions on how to use the media to get out the al Qaeda message most effectively; an al Qaeda activity report highlighting car bomb, suicide, missile, mortar, sniping and IED attacks; a propaganda poster that encourages filming and distributing videos, showing al Qaeda attacks on coalition forces; and a pamphlet and a CD cover of their sniper school.In all, this media center had the capacity of reproducing 156 CDs in an eight-hour period and had a fully functioning film studio. This media center and others like it play an important role in al Qaeda's recruitment efforts in Iraq and around the world.If you noted on our first slide showing the captured and killed leaders, there's also a group called facilitators. These facilitators, like Abdel al Jabar (ph), Maqmud Terad Mohammed Jerala (ph), and Hussein Awa Hussein Hawawi (ph), recruited and smuggled foreigners into Iraq to conduct terrorism, many of whom become suicide killers. Of special note was a facilitator named Mahmed Ilmaz (ph), also know as Khalid al-Turki, who we mentioned two weeks ago as a top smuggler of foreign fighters into Iraq, a fighter in Afghanistan and a close associate of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attack.