The view from jihadi Internet forums is fascinating these days as al Qaeda members and supporters react to the loss of their leader. Until al Qaeda officially confirmed Osama bin Laden’s death on Friday, confusion dominated the forums, with participants sharply divided between those who embraced the news and those who denied it.
The more stoic members were keen to ensure that their supporters did not lose heart. “We were not fighting for Osama,” Salmakh84 wrote on the Ansar forum. “We were fighting for Allah. The Jihad will continue even if the Amir [leader] is Shaheed [martyred]!!” Another user added: “Those who fought for shaykh usaamah know that shaykh usaamah has passed away, but those who fought for Allaah know that Allaah is alive and will never die.”
As forum members waited for al Qaeda to make a statement, one user pleaded, “Please be patient and put aside all speculations until we receive an official confirmation report from our brothers in the ranks.” Until yesterday, the only confirmation of bin Laden’s death had come from Western media –- an unacceptable source for jihadis. Links to mainstream news stories were flagged as coming from an “unconfirmed kafir [unbeliever] source,” and a user called Ansariyya wrote that he would never “believe a word that comes out of their lying deceitful mouths.” Another added, “Who cares what the kuffaruun [unbeliever] dogs are stating?”
Indeed, some jihadi forums even continued to insist that bin Laden was alive. As late as Thursday, the al Qimmah forum (which is linked to the al Shabaab movement in Somalia) and several others carried a video statement from a man calling himself Commander Waliu al Rahman, which claimed that bin Laden was alive.
Conflicting statements from senior U.S. officials regarding bin Laden’s last minutes only heightened distrust among forum users. According to U.S. President Barack Obama’s initial statement, there was a firefight at the compound, suggesting that bin Laden was armed. According to White
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