Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Abu Hamzah al Muhajir's video appearings - part 2

I do know of 5 video appearances made by Abu Hamzah al Muhajir (Abu Ayyub al Misri).

1. Abu Hamzah is seen building a car bomb. He is unveiled (clearly recognizable) and a flag of  Jamâ'ah Tawhîd wal Jihâd (predecessor group to Al Qâ'idah in Irâq) is shown. This means that it is from 2003 or 2004. JTJ became AQI in October 2004.
The video is an instructional video on how to make car bombs and may have been for internal use only.
Thus the footage was never released officially but captured by US troops and shown on CNN in late 2006/early 2007 after Abu Hamzah took command of AQI. The video is blurred, no worries!

2. The execution of the Turkish truck driver Murat Yuce, which was released by JTJ on August 2nd 2004. Abu Hamzah is veiled. Neither does he identify himself nor is he identified  but his voice is heard  (recognizable) as he reads out a statement consisting of a stern warning to Muslims to seize working with the "occupier" or face execution for apostasy. He than executes the hostage by shooting. Everything happens in front of a JTJ flag.
The execution is not shown!

3. Abu Hamzah appears at the end of the major AQI production on the Battle of Abu Ghraib. The video was officially released by AQI sometime in summer 2005 (I believe there are different versions with different length (ca. 40 to ca. 70 minutes) and names. The video is referred to as "Battle of Abu Ghraib", "Invasion of the martyr Abu Anas al-Shami", "Lions of Monotheism", and probably many other jolly names.). Abu Hamzah is only identified as "one of the military officers" of AQI but his voice is clearly recognizable. His speech is entitled "Message to the scholars of the ummah" (the Islamic Nation - means all Muslims) and is an appeal to Islamic scholars to support the insurgents in Iraq.

4. The unofficial karaoke video (sometime between 2003 and 2005). Abu Hamzah sings about "martyrdom".

5. The recent Furqan release from September 5th 2010. Abu Hamzah meets some comrades. No sound.

4. and 5. are talked about in part 1 of this post.

Well, now I do have some questions in mind.
- Why does Furqan show this totally good for nothing clip of Abu Hamzah while there exists "action footage" of him (even unveiled)?
- And if I am right about the karaoke clip and the new Furqan clip being from the same occasion one may ask if that day was the only one they had a camera on while Abu Hamzah was unveiled? 
- Or did they loose everything in raids as they did with the bomb instruction video?
- As shown above Abu Hamzah's face was known to his adversaries 2006 onwards (pictures and recent videos). Why the shyness? Why didn't he appear (veiled or unveiled) in some Furqan propaganda video when they really needed a moral boost (basically everyday since early 2008)?

I shall try to guess the answers myself:

Furqan has indeed lost most of its pre-2007 archives. In some of their releases one can see an older and a newer logo on the same scene which means that they don't have access to the original footage and had to get their own released videos from the internet. This just doesn't work with unpublished footage.

No access means that their video library got raided and they don't have them any longer in most cases but there is the slight possibility that they just can't reach their libraries for security reasons (read: improved security situation in post-surge Iraq, numerous checkpoints etc.).

As for Abu Hamzah not showing his face on Furqan while being alive it's obviously not for religious reasons. He appeared on film before. I think it's sure to say that he was "paranoid". Understandably so if you look at the fate of his predecessor who got killed just two months after he appeared in an official video.

Basically Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi pre-April 2006 had the same preconditions as Abu Hamzah. His face was known from old video footage and photos, there were quite new photos of him available and presumably even video files (with unveiled face - "karaoke video").

I believe it has nothing to do with the face being known to the general population. I can't see old Abu Mus'ab sipping his Latte macchiato at the local bar in B'aqûbah and the barkeeper calls the cops on him. Such people hide. The lesser people know where - the better it is. I suppose the dangerous thing that eventually led to his death was the "official video release" part in April 2006.

- They had a media crew coming to his locations --> many people who knew where he is (or at least was at a given moment) --> bad thing for everyone on the run
- The media crew coming to his location --> many outsiders came to his hood --> many people saw that something's going on --> same as above
- The media crew had to polish the video and tried (and managed) to get the video out to the internet. --> The video passed many hands and somewhere it may have been intercepted. --> same as above

This had not been the case with the "karaoke video". It was shot by someone of the inner circle while the "official release" one had a "real" cameraman and I doubt that Abu Mus'ab's inner circle had a single "real" cameraman on its membership list.

So I presume that Abu Hamzah paid attention, learned his lesson and remained with audio files that he could record on his own with a mobile phone or on a laptop sending the file via trusted couriers. But as we all know in the end that didn't help him either.

Supplement 1:

Oh, and I think it was for the same reasons that Abu 'Umar al Baghdadi did not show his face on video while his face was already wanted since 2007. But in his case one has to admit that it had its tactical merits with the Iraqi government embarrass itself numerous times claiming to have arrested him and even putting him on TV (See talisman gate's archive for many of these stories) thereby eroding their credibility. Yet this was due to the blunders of the Iraqi government and wouldn't have happened just because of Abu 'Umar's facelessness.

Supplement 2:

And while we are on topic - this is in my opinion the main reason why we don't see OBL (Usamah bin Laden) on video on 'Aid. I'm curious about tomorrow ...

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