Broadcasting from a secret location in Syria, Al-Qaeda and its allies now have their own 24-hour television station, Pajamas Media has learned.
Known as Al-Zawraa, Arabic for “first channel,” the station broadcasts enemy propaganda and rebroadcasts of Western anti-war material, including Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. It is not connected with Al-Jazeera.
Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, is delighted by al-Zawraa. A U.S. military intelligence officer told Pajamas Media that the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Masri, “has long-term and big plans for this thing.” Previous attempts by al-Qaeda to set up media propaganda outlets have been limited to satellite radio and the Internet. Al-Zawraa, however, is seemingly well financed and striving for a broader appeal….
The programming originates from Syria, where its main backer, Mishaan al-Jabouri, a well-known Sunni Baathist agitator and former Iraqi parliamentarian, recently fled to escape an Iraqi arrest warrant for suspected corruption and embezzlement. He initially set the station up in Tikrit, Iraq, but in early November its studio was raided by authorities and closed down for incitement.
Al-Jabouri, who in Damascus during the final years of Saddam Hussein’s rule, is widely believed to have forged close ties with Saddam’s intelligence services. More recently, he has been linked to al-Qaeda.
The speed with which al-Zawraa was able to resume its transmissions from Syria and Nilesat after the raid on the Tikrit station is unusual, according to Sennitt. Moreover, the reach of al-Zawraa’s broadcasts indicates that the station is attempting to influence viewers far beyond Iraq.
Government officials tell Pajamas Media that they are trying to remove al-Zawraa from the airwaves. Jim Turner, deputy director of Defense Press Operations, told Pajamas Media in an e-mail that this is the State Department’s decision because “they are the department of the US Government that would interact with another country on such an issue.”
In turn, a State Department official told Pajamas Media, “We are strongly supporting the Iraqi efforts to work with the Egyptians to get this off the air.” The State Department’s comment seems designed to avoid diplomatic fallout, since Egypt’s control of Nilesat would allow it to stop al-Zawraa’s signal.
Turning off al Zawaraa without Egypt’s help would be nearly impossible. Jamming its signal may prove difficult since the physical location of the signal’s feed would need to be located and, according to Sennitt, it could be anywhere. “All that’s needed is a dish pointing at the satellite, and a transmitter on the correct uplink frequency. The satellite will carry whatever signal it receives.”
Wouldn’t the unexpected arrival of a cruise missile work very nicely at turning it off?