Al Qaeda, Islamic Army in war for Web

Rival groups take insurgency to Internet

When it comes to Internet propaganda, Al Qaeda and the rival Islamic Army of Iraq are in a war for the Web.

The two groups worked hand in glove in Iraq until 2005, when the Islamic Army — one of Iraq’s main Sunni insurgent groups –turned against Osama bin Laden‘s network. Now, the two sides frequently trade blows, both on the ground in Iraq and in cyberspace.

Al Qaeda and its affiliates constantly post video and audio messages on their websites, the latest coming Jan. 6, when American jihadist Adam Gadahn urged Islamist militants to target President Bush “with bombs” during his recent trip to the Mideast.

They’ve even gone interactive, posting an open offer for people to quiz bin Laden’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, by submitting questions via two websites.

But whereas Al Qaeda’s propaganda messages are often long and verbose, the Islamic Army’s are short — and chilling.

The group posts clips almost daily, and its greatest media creation is Juba, a mythical marksman who is shown shooting U.S. soldiers and Iraqi policemen from a high-powered rifle fitted with a silencer — and a video camera.

In the latest video — posted at baghdadsniper.net — one sequence shows the marksman taking aim at the silhouette of a soldier in the window of a concrete watchtower. A shot rings out and the body collapses like a puppet, and then falls from view.