"Al Qaeda leaders and affiliates have conducted sophisticated public relations and media campaigns since the mid-1990s. Terrorism analysts believe that these campaigns have been designed to elicit psychological reactions and communicate complex political messages to a global audience as well as to specific subpopulations in the Islamic world, the United States, Europe, and Asia. Some officials and analysts believe that Al Qaeda's messages contain signals that inform and instruct operatives to prepare for and carry out new attacks. Bin Laden and other leading Al Qaeda figures have referred to their public statements as important primary sources for parties seeking to understand Al Qaeda's ideology and political demands. Global counterterrorism operations since 2001 appear to have limited Bin Laden's ability to provide command and control leadership to Al Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups. Other Al Qaeda leaders and affiliates continue to release statements that encourage and provide guidance for terrorist operations. Iraq has become a focal point for jihadist rhetoric, underscoring Al Qaeda leaders' interest in Iraq and support for the ongoing insurgency. Statements released by Osama Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri since late 2004 have rekindled public debate in Europe and the United States surrounding Al Qaeda's ideology, motives, and future plans for attacks. Statements released following the July 2005 Al Qaeda-linked suicide bombing attacks on the London transit system have characterized those attacks and Al Qaeda's ongoing terrorist campaign as a response to British and American military operations in Iraq."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32759