It's been a big media week for counterterrorism expert Jarret Brachman, who has a story on ForeignPolicy.com today about Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi, the new face of Al Qaeda.
Brachman also got quite a bit of attention for posting the the photo on the right on his blog, which is the first anyone has seen of terrorist leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed since his capture. The photos were taken by the Red Cross for his family and then released onto the Jihadist Internet where they were spotted by Brachman's fellow terrorism-wathcer Leah Farrell.
Brachman believes the release of the photos is a significant propaganda victory for KSM and Al Qaeda, as the most recent and widely circulated photo of the terrorist mastermind is the not-so-flattering one taken right after arrest. It also shows him in relatively good condition even after being reportedly waterboarded 183 times in one month. Brachman writes:
Even the jihadis say on their forums that he looks virtually unrecognizable from the previous photos they’ve seen (none of which are all that complimentary in their opinion). This one paints him as a pious elder Muslim. He’s serene, contemplative – is that a partial smile?
So, the jihadists get a hold of this image and have in their hands more than just a photo. They have a symbol. This is the man who dealt the single greatest blow to the ‘infidel’ and look, they might say, he’s not only still alive, but he looks more pious and happier than ever.