US Military Behind Africa News Websites … The website's headlines trumpet al-Shabab's imminent demise and describe an American jihadist fretting over insurgent infighting. At first glance it appears to be a sleek, Horn of Africa news site. But the site — sabahionline.com — is run by the U.S. military. The site, and another one like it that centers on northwest Africa, is part of a propaganda effort by the U.S. military's Africa Command aimed at countering extremists in two of Africa's most dangerous regions — Somalia and the Maghreb. Omar Faruk Osman, the secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists, said Sabahi is the first website he's seen devoted to countering the militants' message. – AP
Dominant Social Theme: It's swell for the US military-industrial complex to counteract terrorist propaganda with its own …
Free-Market Analysis: The modern US military, certainly post-World War II, has been in the media/propaganda business at home and abroad – but blunt statements about its presentations are hard to come by. It's not something talked about a lot.
We've noticed that military involvement in media matters is becoming more overt in the 21st century. This makes sense to us because we believe the power elite is moving quickly to expand world governance in order to combat the corrosive power of the Internet that has revealed and publicized their plans in some detail.
The heavy hand of the military can be obviously seen in Hollywood now in such movies as "Transformers" and also in biopics about the "killing" of Osama bin Laden, who likely died ten years ago of Marfan Syndrome.
This article about the US military from the AP wire would seem to be more of the same, then, though even franker than usual – an escalation, therefore, of a dominant social theme.
The underlying dominant social theme is that the war on terror needs to be combated by whatever means necessary, including out-and-out propaganda efforts by the US military and its surrogates. A subdominant social theme would be that such interference is GOOD.
The really disturbing part of this, again, is the seeming determination to inform the public that the US military-industrial complex is in the media business. It seemingly marks a determined attempt at making clear to the public the range of activities that the US government in the service of Money Power is now pursuing. Here's some more from the article:
"We have seen portal services by al-Shabab for hate and for propaganda, for spreading violence. We are used to seeing that. In contrast we have not seen such news sites before. So it is something completely unique," Osman said.
But although he had noticed prominent articles on the site, which is advertising heavily on other websites, he had not realized it was bankrolled by U.S. military.
The U.S. military and State Department, a partner on the project, say the goal of the sites is to counter propaganda from extremists "by offering accurate, balanced and forward-looking coverage of developments in the region."
"The Internet is a big place, and we are one of many websites out there. Our site aims to provide a moderate voice in contrast to the numerous violent extremist websites," Africom, as the Stuttgart, Germany-based Africa Command is known, said in a written statement.
Al-Shabab and other militants have for years used websites to trade bomb-making skills, to show off gruesome attack videos and to recruit fighters. The U.S. funded websites — which are available in languages like Swahili, Arabic and Somali — rely on freelance writers in the region.
Recent headlines on sabahionline.com show a breadth of seemingly even-handed news. "Death toll in ambush on Kenyan police rises to 31," one headline said. "Ugandan commander visits troops in Somalia," another reads …
The site, which launched in February, is slowly attracting readers. The military said that Sabahi averages about 4,000 unique visitors and up to 10,000 articles read per day. The site clearly says under the "About" section that it is run by the U.S. military, but many readers may not go to that link.
Once the reality of US involvement has been fully and clinically established, the article begins to offer rationales for the presentation. It quotes someone called Abdirashid Hashi (a "Somalia analyst for the International Crisis Group") as saying that while he didn't realize US's involvement with the website, he has no issues with it. "I don't think they hide it. That's up there. There's an information war going on, so I don't have any problem with that."
Hashi's main worry was that writers hired by the site could be harassed or killed. The article then goes on to mention the expense that involves a "larger project that costs $3 million to pay for reporting, editing, translating, publishing, IT costs and overhead."
Not to worry. US military commanders believe the project "is paying dividends."
Seth Jones, the associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation think tank in Washington, said a significant part of the struggle with extremist groups like al-Shabab is ideological and is a battle for the hearts and minds of local populations.
"Based on this reality, the U.S. and other governments should be involved in countering extremist messages on websites and other forms of social media. After all, every Arab government provides substantial money to television, radio, print media, and Internet sites," Jones said.
What is also disturbing about such statements is that they do not recognize the larger reality that the US and the West generally are sponsoring much of the ideology that this website and others like it are supposed to combat.
As we have documented in well over a dozen articles – as have many other alternative media outlets, as well – the upheaval in the Middle East and the fall of secular governments there has been sponsored in part by the CIA, State Department, etc. via such controlled youth movements as AYM.
Saudi Arabia – a bought-and-paid-for resource of this larger campaign – has been spreading fundamentalist Wahhabism for half a century under the benevolent eye of US Intel agencies. The Muslim Brotherhood now being installed in Egypt and elsewhere, another organization said to be influenced by the CIA.
It is Money Power behind all of this. The power elites create religious tension between East and West to advance the prospects of global governance. Out of chaos, order, etc.
What is new and different now is the growing acknowledgement by various power elite facilities – such as the US military-industrial complex – that, yes, they are indeed proactively seeking to influence the sociopolitical conversation by funding various media mechanisms.
This is part and parcel of a trend toward acknowledging the hitherto unacknowledged authoritarianism that sits at the center of Western societies.
It may be an outgrowth of desperation, as the Internet itself has "outed" so much of these previously covert operations. Or it may simply spring from a determination to be more obvious about authoritarian control. We hope it is the former not the latter …