graphics - the 9/11 decade - special programme series - the image war

The Image War

The US and al-Qaeda tried spin, threats, lies and censorship to win the propaganda war, but did anyone succeed?

9/11: It was a PR stunt which killed thousands and launched a propaganda war that has, so far, lasted a decade.

Since then, the US and al-Qaeda have competed furiously to win ‘hearts and minds’ with elaborate media strategies. Spin, threats, lies, censorship, the killing of journalists; how far has each side been prepared to go to win the propaganda war?

In the ‘war on terror’ the exploitation of images was to become a matter of life and death, as both the US and al-Qaeda bombarded the world with media designed to win people over to their side.

It started with 9/11 itself: an act of terror staged as a global media event and the catalyst for a decade of propaganda war.

But al-Qaeda’s canny use of 9/11 imagery, which included saving footage of the attackers for release at a later date so as to maximise publicity, gave way to serious errors in judgement as the group’s use of beheadings not only terrorised viewers but also alienated one-time sympathisers.

The US, for its part, did not perform any better with Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib becoming prime examples of how to lose a war.

And so, the image war goes on.

This episode airs from Tuesday, September 6, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600. 


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