Al-Qa'ida broadcasts 'unlikely' to contain secret code

War against terrorism: Propaganda
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The Independent Online

Video statements from al-Qa'ida are more likely to be intended to create fear in the West than transmit coded messages to terrorist operatives, a military expert said yesterday.

Professor Chris Bellamy said messages were possibly contained in the text of the latest statement, in the background of the video or in the actions of the speaker. However, they were unlikely to reach operatives in the West because the statement was not broadcast in full and its original meaning could be lost in the translation into English.

He said Al-Jazeera, the television station that broadcast the statement, could be picked up directly in Britain, which would be the only way of terrorists seeing the whole statement in its original form.

Mr Bellamy, professor of military science and doctrine at Cranfield University, said there were parts of the latest statement that stood out, such as a reference to "the female infant buried alive", which could be coded messages. However, al-Qa'ida would have better ways of passing on information.

The tone of the statement indicated a desire to convince Western audiences that more terrorist attacks were likely, with warnings to Westerners in Saudi Arabia that the land would be "set on fire under their feet", and to people in the West not to "travel by plane or live in high-rise buildings".

The professor said: "These statements are designed to produce terror but may not reflect genuine future plans."

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