Go to contents

Doubtful Trustworthiness of “Alezah”

Posted January. 10, 2005 22:54,   


How credible is a statement on the Arabic website “Alezah” (www.alezah.com) that claims, “Two Koreans were abducted”?

Professor of Unification and Theology Lee Won-sam at Sunmoon University said, “The statement that notifies the abduction of Koreans is placed where every visitor is allowed to leave a message just like one can in online communities. This could lower the credibility of the writing.”

The main page of the website appears fairly neat and organized. On the top left, there is a picture of the Koran that reads, “There is no glory other than Islam to us.” The word “alezah” is an Arabic word for “glory.” The website has been posting primarily statements of Islamic fundamentalists.

On the upper section of the website’s main page, there is an Internet link that leads to Arabic BBC and under the BBC link is an explanation of how to observe Ramadan and what the holy war means in Palestine. To the right, links to the Koran, Islamic literature, Jihad and others are lined vertically. The statement in question is connected to “Mujahideen,” a sub-link of “Jihad” and put under the title, “A Statement from an Iraqi Jihad Group.”

Even though the placement decreases the credibility of the message, things look alarmingly different when one realizes that the website was frequently used by “Jamaat al-Tawhid wa`l-Jihad” (formerly the “Unity and Jihad Group”). “Jamaat al-Tawhid wa`l-Jihad” is led by Abu Musa’ab al-Zarqawi, an important figure concerning Iraqi terrorism and last year killed Kim Sun-il, an employee of Gana General Trading Company.

On October 17, 2004, an associate of Zarqawi left an announcement saying that the chair of the judiciary committee, Abu Hafs al-Libi, died, and this indicates that “Jamaat al-Tawhid wa`l-Jihad” used the website as its external communication channel.

Some of the most frequent messages were announcements of the kidnapping or beheading of foreigners.

On September 16, 2004, the kidnapping and beheading of a British man named Kenneth Bigley (62) was first known through the site. On September 23, the abduction and beheading of two female Italian intelligence agents were made public on the web page also.

At that time, a British Foreign Ministry spokesperson denied the abduction announcement, saying, “Due to the low reputation of the web page, we do not take the abduction claim seriously.” However, a few days later, beheading images of Mr. Bigley were made available, a vindication of the statement from “Jamaat al-Tawhid wa`l-Jihad” posted on the alezah website.

Contrary to Mr. Bigley’s case, the message from “Ansar al-Zawahiri” that informed that “two female Italian agents were brutally beheaded” proved false and those two women returned home alive.

Prof. Lee gave his analysis, explaining, “One beheading message proved false, but almost all kidnapping messages were true. It’s hard to rule out the possibility of the abduction of Koreans.”

Hyung-June Park lovesong@donga.com