Jihadist Websites React To Bin Laden's Death

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Melissa Block talks with Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, about what she's seen on jihadist — and — other websites since it was announced that Osama bin Laden was killed.


To another part of the Web now, the SITE Intelligence Group has made a business out of monitoring jihadist websites and chat rooms. Al-Qaida has used those websites in the past to release statements to followers.

Rita Katz is the executive director of SITE and we called on her to find out what has been posted on those jihadist websites since the news broke that Osama bin Laden is dead. Rita Katz, welcome. Thanks for being with us.

Ms. RITA KATZ (Executive Director, SITE Intelligence Group): Thank you.

BLOCK: And you have translations of what you've been reading. What's the overall tone of the postings today? Are you seeing a common thread?

Ms. KATZ: Well, in general, the jihadi forum members have expressed a gamut of reactions to bin Laden's death, ranging from outright denial to lamenting acceptance. Messages for jihad are still filling the message boards. A lot of members are calling for revenge, calling for attacks on - right in front of the White House, where all the celebrations were taking place.

Other message boards, for instance, said we are not fighting for Osama, we are fighting for Allah and the jihad will continue, even if the amir, the leader, is shaheed.

Individuals are posting messages such as, we are all Osama bin Ladens. You killed one Osama bin Laden, but there are millions like him. This is not the end. You cannot kill us just by killing our leader.

BLOCK: Along with eulogies that you're finding from the jihadist community -eulogies for Osama bin Laden - are you also finding widespread disbelief or denial that he was, in fact, killed?

Ms. KATZ: Yes. I mean, a lot of members are still skeptical. Some of them are just indicating that this is all just propaganda campaign that is being conducted by the United States. But at the bottom line, I would say the majority do understand that this is true.

Interestingly enough, there are also campaigns to disseminate information about bin Laden as a person. For instance, monitoring Facebook, for instance. On Facebook, there was a page created with already more than 10,000 fans that, you know, marked that page. With every minute, hundreds of posts. It's coming to the stage where we hardly can even monitor that page.

BLOCK: Are you seeing any indication in these chat rooms or websites, jihadi websites that you're tracking that the killing of Osama bin Laden, the raid on this compound in Pakistan, was anything other than a complete surprise to them?

Ms. KATZ: I didn't see people indicating that they expected this. Obviously, I mean, from the way the posts read, it is a huge surprise. I don't see that anyone really anticipated this. There are no posts that hint or indicate that any of the individuals knew or saw that this might be coming.

But having said that, this was an option that they have realized from the time of 9/11. They knew that the war on al-Qaida continues and has been going on by various countries. And they know that it's not over and the war will continue. But the death of bin Laden came as, I think, as a huge surprise.

BLOCK: OK. Rita Katz, thanks for being with us.

Ms. KATZ: Thank you very much, Melissa.

BLOCK: Rita Katz is the executive director of SITE Intelligence Group. That stands for the Search for International Terrorist Entities. She joined us from her office in Bethesda, Maryland.

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