How to become famous: be a Middle Eastern expert and analyst



By Elijah J. Magnier – 

If you are a young analyst and would like to be noticed, Syria is your best destination to cover…do it on social media.

In Syria, there are three camps:

  • Government forces and their allies,
  • The Syrian opposition groups and their financier, and
  • The Jihadists groups represented mainly Al-Qaeda (and its allies) and the “Islamic State” group (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh)

We shall concentrate in this article on al-Qaeda in the Levant, better known as Jabhat al-Nusra, the “front for the support/victory of the people of the Levant” (JAN).

You may need to start following accounts related to JAN. It is very rare to meet someone rude or ill-mannered among the Mujahedeen because attitude is important for the image of al-Qaida. So you won’t find it difficult to have someone answer your questions, as long as they are not security-related. But You, of course, will have realised that in the Levant everything is security-related…

Oh, by the way it helps if you are already an arab specialist, or can have a translator on hand. Think tanks, specially those based in the Middle East, are part of the concept you are now promoting. This is why.

You see, the Saudi scholar Abdallah al-Moheisni, who pretends not to be part of JAN but part of Jaish al-Fateh, an umbrella of various groups but mainly under JAN and Ahrar al-Sham. He pretends to be a “moderate” and welcomes all groups, including the secular Free Syrian Army. He is managing to keep an excellent balance, image wise, and is equipped with convincing religious arguments. He might say: ”We shall have an Islamic Emirate soon”.

This is where you need to rush off and write an article, in a respectable magazine, about “How al-Qaida will declare an Emirate this year”. Is it wise to predict from a single source or an enthusiastic speech on twitter? Don’t worry. You can catch up later. People forget very quickly.

Then you read that Abu Muhamad al-Maqdisi, the Takfeere inspirer jihadist of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi when he was in jail in Jordan (Zarqawi disengaged from Maqdisi later and criticised him), has said: “It is alright if Jabhat al-Nusra disengage overtly from al-Qaida. It won’t change its ideology”. Here you rush again to tweet, saying:”Jabhat al-Nusra will disengage from al-Qaida”. Now you are looking more interesting because it shows you have some insight into al-Qaida. Not many people read jihadists accounts. Those who do have no time to tell you off.

But wait! What about that Emirate expected to be declared at the end of this year? Seriously! That article was written few months ago. Do you still really remember it? Come on. Let’s move on. We have something more serious to follow.

Then you see a known al-Qaida account saying: ”Tomorrow, a meeting will be held to announce the break of ties between Jabhat al-Nusra and Al-Qaida”.

Now it is your opportunity to tweet: “ Sources in al-Qaida tell me that an announcement is expected tomorrow where JAN will break ties with al-Qaida”.

Hey! What if JAN doesn’t make the announcement tomorrow? What if JAN doesn’t make the move at all or reject it? This could seriously undermine your expert position. Ok then you need to add a small but significant detail:

“Tomorrow JAN will break its ties with al-Qaida. Unconfirmed. I never thought JAN would do it. I am sceptical but this is the information I have manage to collect from Ayman al-Zawaheri entourage”.

The Al-Zawaheri entourage? Are you crazy? Do you have access to the Emir of Al-Qaida? Wow!… Well no. But al-Zawaheri sends his messages via twitter. I am on twitter so we are all neighbours and within the same entourage, naturally…

Ok. I guess you can get away with it. After all, you have been copying all the social media information, writing articles and saying most of the time “sources told me in person”, while you are in the back of beyond (over the phone of course and via DM on twitter).

Also, every time you share information stick to the sequence: make sure you contradict it, confirm it, say unlikely to happen but most probably will happen. Like that you can return and say: See! I told you… I am right and I said it before anyone else.

So here you go: Welcome to the world of experts and analysts of the Middle East.

And if you can also start saying to the American administration: ”You should bomb this group and leave that group”, people will be very impressed by your authority and will respect you even more.

And lastly the big one: super power countries are actually governed/influenced by people in the shadow. Why don’t you join them?


Read also:

How you become a famous “Terrorist Expert” on social media.



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