6 Hilarious Ways Al-Qaeda Is Going Corporate
The capture of Osama bin Laden revealed more than just the unmitigated badassery of Navy Seals. It also exposed how little we knew about the jihad lifestyle. For years we thought bin Laden was camping out in a cave, living off of canned Beanee Weenees and scurrying from stalactite to stalagmite with all of his belongings in a bandanna on a stick.
While Osama was living it up in the lap of adequacy in Abbottabad, his little jihad club had gone corporate -- and we mean that in the very lamest sense of the word. Here are six weirdly business-y (and mundane) tactics that terrorists are using in their war on the war on terror.
Circulating Internal Memos About Branding
Maybe bin Laden wasn't caught in the act of building suicide bombs in a cave or buying plutonium from wild-eyed inventors, but he was still a terrorist -- someone who, by definition, exists to scare people. So as the head guy of al-Qaeda, you'd expect him to give about as many shits about what people thought of him as your average raving homeless man. What you don't expect is a guy so worried about the company's image that he was one memo away from changing al-Qaeda's name in a last-ditch effort to rebrand the organization.
"Nobody leaves this room until we hash this out!"
The Corporate Gesture:
In the same way that Kentucky Fried Chicken insists that we pretend the company's name is "KFC" to obscure the fact that their chicken is fried, Osama bin Laden speculated that changing al-Qaeda's name would get more sympathy from Muslims around the world. As if the whole "murdering innocent civilians for attention" thing had nothing to do with their declining numbers.
When bin Laden's compound was raided, the Navy Seals found an undated internal memo speculating that al-Qaeda's membership was dwindling because Muslims didn't quite "get" them. And the reason everyone was missing the jihad boat was a simple matter of the name. Technically, al-Qaeda is named "al-Qaeda al-Jihad" or "The Base of Holy War." According to bin Laden, it was the West that shortened the name to "al-Qaeda," and by doing so, we rechristened the terrorist group "The Base," which is utterly meaningless.
Just ask Prince about shortened names.
The solution? A name change. Bin Laden played around with " Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad" ("Monotheism and Jihad Group") and "Jama'at I'Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida" ("Restoration of the Caliphate Group"). So you can add "coming up with catchy organization names" to the list of things that bin Laden was terrible at.
Still, had he lived, bin Laden just might have P. Diddied al-Qaeda.
Using Porn as a Recruiting Tool
Imagine you're part of a cause-oriented organization, like PETA. Now, imagine that in addition to recruiting new PETA-ers from farmer's markets and yoga studios, where you might find like-minded souls, you are explicitly instructed to find new members at the Beef: It's What's For Dinner recipe forum. You'd either have to be the greatest salesman in the world, in which case you wouldn't be working for PETA, or you'd have to tap into some deep, underlying meat-hate from people who are specifically looking for meat recipes. Either way, it's a tough sell.
A meat-hating woman berates some pork before beating it senseless.
Speaking of meat ...
The Corporate Gesture:
al-Qaeda is doing something like the above hypothetical, but with porn.
The leadership of al-Qaeda in Morocco realized they needed a lot of young men who dealt with their repressed sexuality by hulking out. Where did they look? The Internet, of course! After a lengthy debate, al-Qaeda's media committee said "Fuck it" and started posting recruiting ads on a porn site.
Even though porn-browsing is as forbidden among militant Muslims as bacon-browsing is among militant PETA activists, the leadership figured this was one case where the end justified the means. Strategically speaking, it's a very smart, if cynical, move. After all, if an organization is full of people willing to die so they can get laid in the afterlife, it's a good bet they aren't having a lot of sex in the now-life. If those same people are banning women from buying cucumbers and killing goats that weren't wearing underwear, it's safe to say they may have issues with sexual repression.
Goat orgy! RUN!
And if you can't find the sexually repressed on a porn site, you're just not looking hard enough.
Coming Up With Social Media Strategies for Recruitment
Terrorists may be rotten-ass evildoers, but they still have friends and families and ex-girlfriends who broke their homecoming date in order to go out with your cousin Mike, just like everyone else. So it's not surprising that terrorists have been using Facebook for a while now, and for the same reasons you do. al-Qaeda members post videos, host discussions and presumably annoy former acquaintances with feel-good Maya Angelou quotes.
Boy howdy, of course we want to read about martyrs and multimedia!
But while it's one thing to picture 24 villains posting "Words With Friends" scores in between making bombs and planning their glorious martyrdoms, it's quite another for al-Qaeda officials to strongly encourage members to bone up on their social media skills in order to woo new recruits as a matter of policy.
The Corporate Gesture:
According to one jihadi author, it's high time for al-Qaeda to get its online media act together, like stat. The faithful are not only encouraged to get Facebooking and Twittering for the cause, but also asked to figure out how to get their video quality up to snuff in order to stop embarrassing themselves like it's amateur night at the Islamabad Apollo. And just like middle management bosses trying to update their skill set for all the wrong reasons, Abu Sa'd al-'Amili isn't having the least amount of fun with all this new technology:
"The enemy can no longer stand alone in the field with its misleading media tools, because the Mujahideen and their supporters have through these blessed pulpits entered the battlefield from a number of gates that they (the enemies) can not completely shut."
"You know, I was thinking the same exact thing!"
"The enemy" meaning us, "misleading media tools" meaning social networks and "gates" meaning, uh, the same social networks? We're not sure. In any case, this guy's not seeing a disconnect between linking demon Western capitalist websites and his anti-capitalist holy war at all. Although he is interested in making a jihad shadow YouTube, probably because he's got some killer footage of his terrorist cats that he wants to share with his friends.
Reaching Out to the Kids With the Rap Music
Remember back in the '80s when all you needed to pass as a rapper was a pair of dark sunglasses, some gold chains and untied Adidas? Of course you don't, because even then everyone knew the difference between a real rapper and an idiot wearing his mom's jewelry. But that didn't stop corporations, football players and the Pillsbury Doughboy from hopping on the rap wagon to sell their wares, which was one reason why the '80s were a hilarious yet horrifying time.
Oddly enough, "making terrible music" is nowhere on that poster.
The Corporate Gesture:
Meet Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, the Alabama-born jihadi rapper.
Settle down, ladies.
Through the power of ill rhymes, dope beats and droning, whispery mumbles that kind of rhyme if you're pretty forgiving in your definition of the word "rhyme," al-Amriki is trying to recruit young Muslims to the cause of jihad. Before you give Alabama Abu a listen, try to picture what would happen if William Hung and Kanye West's non-auto-tuned singing voice had a baby, and then left that baby on a hillside to die of exposure. Don't say we didn't warn you.
"Are you ready to rock? Wait, tone it down -- I abhor enthusiasm."
Over the years, al-Amriki has rapped about slaughtering crusaders, destroying 'copters and his eventual martyrdom, all in the hopes of luring sympathetic believers to jihad. Here are some lyrics, in case you want to get them tattooed on your forearm:
"Send me a cruise like Maa'lam Adam al Ansari
And send me a couple of tons like Zarqawi
Send me four and send me more, that's what I implore.
An amazing martyrdom is what I strive for and adore."
It's like Rappin' Fats Piscopo all over again.
In "Make Jihad With Me," al-Amriki does his best impression of Barry White, singing about wiping Israel off the globe and how he can't get enough of your love, baby. Whether or not he's actually won anyone over with his mumble-raps is a mystery. All we know is that this '80s-born American should have learned the "Rap Is Not an Effective Marketing Tool" lesson years ago.
Printing Glossy Magazines
If you've noticed a theme by this point, it's that al-Qaeda must be running low on membership. That's why they're making all these weird compromises. But there's one thing missing from al-Qaeda's attempt to reach the modern world with modern tactics: coffee table magazines. Glossy, inspirational publications with tons of loose subscription cards that fall out every time you turn a page.
The Corporate Gesture:
Enter Inspire, Al Qaida's first Web magazine written in English. Links to the archived first edition warn of a possible virus, so we won't provide it here, but if you want to find the magazine yourself, feel free. Just remember: If the FBI asks where you heard about Inspire, the answer is "Not Cracked."
Inspire's first issue includes the articles "What to Expect in Jihad (Part 1)," "The Cartoon Crusade," which we hope is a comic strip about the humor in daily jihadist life, and "The Way to Save the Earth," a message from Osama bin Laden about the threat of global warming. That was not a joke.
"Remember, kids -- recycle. Or I will kill everyone in your entire country."
Another article is "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," which almost sounds like lyrics to an al-Amriki joint. Follow their instructions and you get some sweet, delicious bombs. After Inspire was published, British intelligence hacked the site and decided the only reasonable thing to do with terrorists is to mess with them. In fact, they replaced the bomb-making recipe with recipes for mojito and rocky road cupcakes endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres. Why? We already told you, the whole point was to screw with them.
What we wouldn't give to see them do that to their entire site, forever.
If the male-centric Inspire is off-putting to you ladies, don't worry. al-Qaeda has you in mind as well. Inspire was followed by Al-Shamikha, a magazine for women all about how to land the perfect mujahideen. For those looking to maintain a perfect complexion, look no further: Stay inside with your face covered, only go outside if necessary and while out, wear a niqab for sun protection. For that extra step, Al-Shamikha explains the good and bad of honey face masks and warns readers not to towel too hard. We all know how hard it is to wage jihad with dry skin.
Responding to Attacks Like a Talk-Show Pundit
Turn on a cable news channel and you'll probably see a pundit bitching about what someone else said. Flip to another channel, and someone is bitching about what the pundit just said. Over the course of several days they'll go back and forth until their argument devolves into stupid bullshit and they both give up and find something new to fight about. If Ann Coulter is involved, the argument starts in the stupid bullshit stage and stays there. What you don't usually see are representatives from terrorist organizations going mano a mano with talking heads because, one, they're terrorists, not talkerists, and two, just showing up at a studio would lead to an arrest, we're guessing.
"We won! Good debate, everyone!"
Which was why everyone was a little surprised when CNN contributors Fareed Zakaria and Peter Bergen wrote articles claiming the Arab revolts were the end of al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda felt the need to respond. Not with violence or anything; they just wanted everyone to know CNN writers were stupid.
The Corporate Gesture:
Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, responded in the fifth edition of Inspire with an article titled "The Tsunami of Change." And even though his arguments pretty much amounted to 1,000 words of "IS NOT!" to the CNN writers' "IS TOO!" it was still a better retort than, say, a bombing.
Or a power bombing.
The surprising part is how much al-Awlaki's responses sound like the rhetoric we hear between the left and the right of our own country. When CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria claimed that revolts for democracy are contrary to al-Qaeda's goals, al-Awlaki simply answered that everyone should "know very well that the opposite is the case."
He went on to another writer's article, saying that although Bergen was a "so-called expert," he was totally wrong, and that Islamic regimes will replace the dictators, duuuuh. Why would protesters fighting for democracy install a new despotic regime? Al-Awlaki doesn't say, because much like other pundits on television, he's operating with fifth-grade logic. Especially when he criticized YouTube for removing his videos, because everyone knows those were just about to go viral.
Trust us, it was hilarious.
Still, as much as we like to make fun, we'll once again assert that we'll take a talking head over a suicide bomber any day.
Drew has no friends. Make him think he has some by friending him on Facebook!
For more on corporations, check out The 5 Most Horrifying Things Corporations Are Taking Over and 6 Global Corporations Started by Their Founder's Shitty Luck.
And stop by LinkSTORM because TGIF!
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!