Belgian newspaper HLN reports that an ‘Arab group threatens with attacks in Belgium’ for approving a ban of burqas. It probably refers to the following video on youtube:
This channel is managed by someone with the name Mujahid Zaib Khan who also has another youtube channel: Talib Jan that also features the video. Another account (zaibkhanmujahid) was suspended after it was picked up by online activists during what they call Operation YouTube Smackdown. This online initiative attempts to ‘countering the cyber-jihad one video at a time’. For them sometimes YouTube ‘gets it right’ like on the next video:
The activists protest against Youtube hosting videos ‘celebrating the death of Coalition Soldiers (and pretty much everyone else’. According to them freedom of speech does not apply to these videos and therefore they should be banned.
The text in the video of Mujahid Zaib Khan is clear although the English is poor. It warns Belgium and other European countries that bad things can happen if they continue to ban the burqa. The video shows man, children and women hiding their faces and with weapons in different settings. The video claims to speak for all Muslims (certainly not the case) and that it is a Muslim woman’s right to be veiled. The video is apparently made by M. ZaibKhan who also maintains his own weblog: Mujahideen Media Centre
Dedicated to our Mujahideens Brothers who Fight for the Sake of Allah in all over the world In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechniya, Palestine, Kashmir, Somalia, Iraq etc.
According to the Belgian blog People Against Islam (formerly known as Flemish Comite of Ex-Muslims) the person is also active on the Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum; the ‘official’ internet forum of the Pakistan Taliban. People Against Islam calls upon the Belgian state to take extra security measures.
It is always to difficult to assess how serious these films are but given the hardly subtle references to violence it is understandable that people are worried. At the same time publishing such statements on the Internet makes it easy for law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies to gather intelligence and make their cases. For example the recent arrests in the US of the Hutaree Militia and of Norman Leboon are clear examples of how Internet publications are important parts of investigations. What is important in such cases is to not only look at the content of these messages. The content must be related to larger frames ‘out there’ (this one clearly is, as well as in the case of the ‘smackdown operations’ by the way). Furthermore one should look not only at user-generated content but also at user-generated connections; how particular messages are distributed on the web and outside and who is involved in that distribution and in what way. A very superficial analysis of the user-generated connections in the case of this video gives the impression that is it is not distributed very widely. On Talib Jan only 530 people have viewed the channel and 25 people have a subscription to this channel (including at least one researcher…). At the other channel 2169 people have viewed it and 15 people have subscribed to the channel (also with at least one researcher). These figures pertain to the channels after the release of the report on People Against Islam and the report in the Belgian newspaper. Although it does not mean that we should not take it seriously (or that we should take it seriously) the channels seem to be rather isolated from other channels and forums severely limiting the impact and mobilizing qualities.