A file sharing Web site containing videos that glorify suicide bombers and terrorism appears to be the latest effort by Hamas to reach a wider audience through the Internet.
AqsaTube, launched in July 2008, is similar to YouTube, allowing users to upload, view and share videos. The Arabic site includes videos of suicide bombers prior to carrying out an attack, videos of terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, terrorist training videos and children’s videos. The Web site also contains non-militant videos, such as episodes of Bab al-Hara, a popular Arabic soap opera aired every day of Ramadan in the Middle East.
The children’s section of the site features a wide range of content, including cartoons and music videos. One music video, titled “Video Tata Tata,” has a child singing about the importance of fighting for Palestine. The video shows masked men with guns and children throwing stones as the child sings “those are your friends.” Pictures of Jews praying are shown as the child sings “our enemy is one.” The boy also sings about “millions of martyrs,” “our gun in our arms,” and “the fire will be flared,” as the background of the video depicts explosions, Israeli soldiers beating up Palestinians and women crying.
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), an Israeli organization that focuses on issues concerning intelligence and terrorism, reports that Hamas is responsible for launching, managing and directing AqsaTube. The site offers live streaming video of Al Aqsa TV, Hamas’s satellite television station. However, the head of production of al-Aqsa TV, Samir Abu Mahsen, claims that al-Aqsa TV has no connection with AqsaTube.
After ITIC released a report on AqsaTube, the site was taken offline by its French Internet service provider on October 15, 2008. As a result of the removal, the site issued an announcement on other Hamas-affiliated sites claiming it was taken down because of “Zionist-American pressure.” A week later, on October 22, 2008, the AqsaTube site returned to the Internet with a Russian Internet service provider.
Since coming back online, the site has recast itself to include videos produced by a wide range of terrorist organizations, instead of just Hamas. For example, the site offers videos produced by Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’s military wing), al-Quds Brigade (the militant wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and Al Qaeda.
AqsaTube is reportedly one of about 20 Web sites that Hamas operates. For example, its Arab-language on-line magazine for children, Al-Fateh, uses cartoon characters, games and other content to demonize Jews and Israelis and glorify terrorism.