Friend of the blog Nasser Weddady, a native Mauritanian, summarized and provided local knowledge analysis of AQIM’s most recent video release “On The Occasion of Ramadan Fighting is Ordained for You” to me through twitter. He said:
- watching the video the dudes in the first minutes are Mauritanians with a clear Hassaniya accent..figures we’re more literary
- one of the guys was reciting a hassaniya poem
- it’s funny to see Mauritanians reciting Qur’an in Hafs instead of warsh.. so alien to us.. clearly Saudi influence in action
- minute 30, showing an Afro-Mauritanian preaching in Halpulaar (fulani) very worrying sign..
- minute 33 a Touareg preaching in his language face uncovered.. another alarm sign
- minute 41, Guinean preaching in Portuguese..
- min 43 AQIM dude preaching in .. Haussa..
- part one of the new video is basically AQIM bragging about the diversity of its recruits and a show of success recruiting touaregs
- beginning of video 2 AQIM emphasizing their diversity i.e trying to spread the msg & grow it beyond Arabs
- min 43, in the hassaniya poem the guy says in rhyme that the group in that location has 14 fighters.
- the Hassaniya poem in part 2 shows a good deal of sophistication trying to appeal to Moorish youth. psy-ops
- the propaganda is designed to appeal to young moors warrior ethos.. not to be confused with jihadism..much more complex sociology
- minute 60 of the video: gives previously unknown names of 4 Muaritanian AQIM members gone KIA.
Obviously one cannot take everything in a propaganda video at face value, at the same time, AQIM is trying to show it has diversified its ranks and is no longer a strictly Arab movement or for that matter completely run by Algerians. As Weddady mentions above this is a worrying sign because it opens the playing field to operations and potential safe havens in other countries. It appears that although AQIM was fairly silent on the media front in 2009, over the past several months they have stepped up their media operations. Something to look for in future statements or video messages is whether AQIM is able to infiltrate networks in Morocco and recruit Moroccans. Also, whether there is a shift in messaging to more a Global Jihadist ideology where they focus less on local and regional issues and more on reclaiming territory occupied by Spain since in the past it was part of Muslim territory (al-Andalus).