As I wrote in the previous post, terrorism lives in a symbiotic relationship with the media. Terrorism works by creating fear (or some other more complicated emotion) in the target population — either the enemy of the terrorist or some other group that the terrorists want to influence — and then the target population acts in response to the emotions generated.
One example is the way the Madrid train bombing in March 2004 may have swung the immediately following general election against the Partido Popular of José María Aznar, which lost power as a result (either of the bombing itself , the PP’s handling of the affair, or both).
The broadcast Monday of the Gilad Schalit audiotape and the Alan Johnston videotape on Web sites linked to Islamic terror groups, and the impact the broadcasts have on the national agenda as their images beam around the world, attest to the fact that modern terrorists have adopted the mass media as their weapon of choice, say top Israeli media experts.
“The better the show is, the higher the ratings are. The higher the ratings, the more people receive the terrorists’ message,” said Eviathar Ben-Zedeff, a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, on Monday…
“The terrorists wish to influence three sectors: the enemy public, in this case Israelis; the wider international audience; and lastly, their own domestic audience. They want to cause fear among the enemy public, to make the international community understand that they constitute a crucial side in reaching an agreement and to receive money and support from their domestic constituents. These manipulations of the media are targeted to reach political success at the lowest cost. And it works.” — Jerusalem Post
Tuesday, Ahmed Yousef, author of the New York Times op-ed I wrote about in the previous post, actually called Noam Shalit, the father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, during an on-camera interview with an Israeli TV station!
Can you imagine receiving a call from Eichmann to discuss your son’s health at Auschwitz? The combination of cruelty and real-time exploitation of terror to activate emotional forces among a population — in this case, the Israeli public, who Yousef hopes will pressure its government to release more prisoners, and more dangerous ones, in return for Shalit — is unprecedented.