BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Web site run by al-Qaida in Iraq was strangely quiet during the referendum on the new Iraqi constitution. There were no threats against voters, no boasts of disrupting the vote.
And now we know one reason why. A top propaganda agent for al-Qaida in Iraq, known as Abu Dijana, was captured shortly before the vote, according to the U.S. military. Abu Dijana was responsible for much of what has appeared on the Web site called “al-Qaida in Iraq,” including provocative videos of suicide bombings and crucial communications to al-Qaida fighters.
Here is how the al-Qaida Web site works: On any given day in Baghdad, Baquba, or any of a dozen cities, a suicide car bomb explodes. The target is an American convoy, local Iraqi police or perhaps civilians exiting a mosque. Within minutes, a report is sent out by news services like The Associated Press and MSNBC.com. But, the news also circulates on a fascinating and, some would say, disturbing Web site operated by al-Qaida.
The “al-Qaida in Iraq” Web site immediately takes “credit” for the bombing. In one typical case, just three hours after an attack, the site showed video of a man identified as the suicide bomber Abu Musab al-Iraqi, who says, “I have dreamed about this moment. I am sure if my family is watching this they will be more proud of me.”
Musab’s words are followed by a video of a car he is said to be driving, blowing up in the midst of an American convoy. The incident is replayed again and again with more of Musab’s speech superimposed over the ball of flames and smoke rising above the U.S. convoy. “Thank God this day I went to kill many crusaders.” His declaration ends, “Today I will be in heaven.”