There was widespread surprise across worldwide terrorist communities last month as Al Qaeda released a new video showing a distinct change of tack in the network’s style of public relations. The 4 minute film once again features leader Osama Bin Laden outside his mountain abode but this time without any of the usual Ak47s and words of killer intent. Instead the film opens with soft music and images of cascading waterfalls and lush forests before cutting to Bin Laden seen fixing up solar panels outside his cave, tending to his vegetable patch and demonstrating to local kids how his rainwater collection system works. He then goes on to stare piercingly at the camera and to speak with great authority about how the future of our planet is paramount and that a sustainable lifestyle is the goal for all. “We don’t need to go around blowing people up”, he says, “just to inspire people through positive actions and setting an example”. He goes on to admit, “But I have to say, the pay-back period on these PV panels is excellent, especially with the lack of reliable grid power up here. And you can’t get good butternut squash in these godforsaken mountains for love nor money, so this garden is a pleasure to cultivate.”
The release was met with indignation from some camps. One European terror cell released a statement expressing shock and distaste that the core of Al Qaeda could have wavered so far off-message. “We’ll never convince people of the cause through this softly-softly liberal green nonsense. Violence and murder is the only way, and if that means blowing up children then all the better. The inconvenient truth is that these videos need to be crammed with nauseating amounts of gore if they are going to get the right level of attention”.
The film is making waves even within the shores of the United States. Fox News, known for its tolerance of others’ views, was quick to criticise the film for its intolerance of others’ views. Said one reporter, “we thought this guy had become a benign old man living in a faraway cave and no longer posed a threat to our homeland. But if he is actively trying to poison young minds with the notion that personal action is required to avert dangerous climate change and reverse the unsustainable depletion of our planet’s resources, well that’s just no longer acceptable. He must be stopped”. The news channel has given extensive coverage to the film and has reportedly begun a campaign to have the new initiative halted.
Some say the whole exercise is a mere publicity stunt to regain headlines, simply ignoring genuine offence to secure column inches at the expense of enraging supporters and opposition alike. Whatever the reason, depicting terrorists as planet-loving hippies is clearly nonsense and not really helping anyone’s cause.