One of the first things UK-based jihadis did once the movement established its first tenuous foothold online (2003-2004) was to share historic videos (no doubt readily accessible to them in hard copy) through commercial file servers (Sendspace, etc) and, of course, Archive.org. Numerous videos piled onto the web between 2003-2006, featuring a host of historic figures that would test the meddle of any young student of the Salafist-jihadi movement (Sheik Tameem al-Adnani, Rifai Taha, etc).
The following video was available on Archive.org for years (but not now). It is perhaps the perfect “jihad” video. It features four primary players of the Global jihad movement sitting/standing on a dais together -- filmed in an effort to raise money for the Chechen jihad. It's 48-minutes long, in Arabic and English; it features "stars" of the movement, and includes a bit of recent history. It is a perfect example of how jihad media was used in fundraising and recruitment before 9/11, and it provides some much-needed historical continuity in the current study of the origins of the jihad media phenomenon.
The video epitomizes 90s-era Londonistan: a cultural, theological, and entrepreneurial milieu that was the heart of the global jihad movement. Some analysts say the jihad went global after 9/11. Still other believe it happened after Bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa. I believe that the “Jihad” went global once it established itself in London in the early 1990s. A group of Salafist-jihadi exiles thrived under UK's lax policies toward "dissidents," exploting both the government's disinterest and commonplace Western freedoms - religion, speech, etc. In this global stew, Londonistan became a safehaven with limitless freedom and cash. It became a proving ground for a global mindset.
As I said, the video appears to be a late-90s fundraiser for Chechen mujahideen -- probably during the second Chechen War. It's being held in what looks like a school or mosque auditorium. It features (L to R) Abu Hamza al-Masri, Omar Bakri, and Saudi dissident Mohammed al-Massari (known as the purveyor of one of the first jihadi forums: Tajdeed). Standing up at the podium (speaking in Arabic) is Abu Qatada al Filistini, one of the most popular and divisive characters among the Londonistan cadre.
As Abu Qatada describes the situation among the Chechen fighters, a film (most likely from Chechnya) is projected onto a screen behind the dais, giving us an idea of how jihad videos were used before the age of Youtube and social networking. Omar Bakri translates Qatada’s raspy Arabic. Massari looks rather bored.
Though the audio and resolution are awful, the video highlights Abu Qatada’s famous public persona, and poses an analyst's challenge to identify the individuals walking behind the panel and whose role in the community may never be fully known. At about 29:00, Qatada concludes his part, and Abu Hamza addresses the audience in English, noting the strategic advantages in maintaining the Chechen jihad for the global jihad movement (excuse my miserable transcription skills)
“...I just want to stress two points he did...our brothers there [pointing to the screen behind him] are the most experienced fighters on earth. If we lose them, if we lose any one of them, we have lost a great asset, a great potential, a great trainer, a great expert in war, a great [????] for the kafirs, a great bodyguard for Muslims, and is time, time if we are negligent, will not be in our favor. Secondly, the tactics of the mujahidin is to trap the Russians...they know that they cannot fight Russians face to face, they have to fight guerilla wars...”
Bakri speaks, briefly toward the end. At one point he mentions Bin Laden, but the audio is terrible, and I'm not sure what he's saying. However, my guess is that he's mentioning the then-recent Africa embassy bombings.
There you go. A little bit of recent history, with some provocative statements by Londonistan’s professional provocateurs. Much has changed in London since the 1990s, but that history hasn’t been written yet, and we’d be short-sighted if we thought we knew everything that needed to be known.