CHANNEL4 DISPATCHES: JIHAD TV PART 3 OF 3
The question that nobody's answered convincingly, though, is what effect is all this sophisticated propaganda having? Are these images breeding a new generation of suicide bombers who will attack the London Underground or planes over the Atlantic? It's tempting for a Westerner to think so.
The videos are available anywhere in the world through the internet, and opinion polls show that Muslims in many countries are extremely hostile to the West.
But Arab opinions of both the West and al-Qaeda are much more nuanced than many Westerners might imagine. Many people in Saudi Arabia, for instance, were quite enthusiastic when al-Qaeda attacked America but extremely disturbed when it bombed housing compounds in their own country and killed Muslims.
Are all the young people we met hugely hostile to Western actions in the Muslim world? Absolutely. Are they all downloading jihadi videos? Well, no. What is really driving their hostility is the suffering they see on mainstream news bulletins every day from Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Lebanon, most of it blamed on America, Israel and Britain.
It's very convenient for us to believe that some uniquely powerful jihadi propaganda is poisoning young Muslim minds. In fact the most deadly influence is probably our own actions as seen on the evening television news.