Ex-Reuters editor studies effect of jihadi propaganda

Video footage is now as important a weapon as plastic explosives or guns in the war in Iraq and the global jihad movement, former Reuters Middle East bureau chief Paul Eedle has claimed.

In Jihad TV, a documentary to be broadcast on Channel 4 next week, Eedle investigates the jihadi propaganda machine and its impact on young Arabs and young British Muslims.

He told Press Gazette: "It is vitally important that people in Britain and America understand the motives and strategies of the people they are fighting, whether it's Al Qaeda globally led by Osama bin Laden or the different insurgent groups in Iraq."

Eedle said that he had been following the propaganda videos on the internet since 9/11. He added: "They have built in quantity, particularly with the war in Iraq, but we hardly ever look at them on our television, except in very small clips. It seemed valuable to look at them in more detail, see what they really say and try to work out what impact they are having."

While Eedle argued such videos where important to Al Qaeda because "it is as much a media war as it is a military war", he said, in practice, jihadi propaganda may actually be having far less effect than the ordinary mainstream television news that people in the Arab world are watching on television every day. He said: "You don't need to turn to a jihadi video to see images of bodies being taken from the rubble of an Israeli air strike in Gaza, or South Lebanon. You don't need jihadi video to see news of American marines being put on trial for the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager. It is these facts reported on mainstream television that are influencing the vast bulk of people."

Jihad TV will be broadcast on 6 November at 11pm on Channel Four.

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