Al-Qaida making Islamic jihad cartoon to inspire children

An image said to be a still from the film

An image said to be a still from the film

Move over Foreskin Man; there's a new cartoon warrior in town.

Al-Qaida has revealed members are working on a cartoon to inspire children to follow the path of Islamic jihad.

The film, claimed to be in the final stages of development, will include lessons in the history of the terrorist network and "facts" about those who have gone against Islam. It was described as an alternative to "the poison" of other television programmes.

The project, tentatively titled Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula , was announced on an Arabic-language website. The plot description said it would feature a "very exciting story" and inform young viewers about "who let down the Islamic religion and the Prophet, and how the Arab leaders are agents of the West".

The statement said the cartoon would include live action footage of raids and assassinations and real examples of the "heroic actions" of the mujahedeen.

Farfur the mouse

Farfur the mouse

"It aims to catalyse the youth and the children to follow the steps of Islamic jihadist figures," the statement continued. "This movie is a religious effort to educate our sons and youth about how to live a noble life under the shade of the Sharia."

Noman Benotman, a senior analyst at extremism monitor Quilliam, said the planned film represented a shift in the organisation's attitude to the media and to recruitment.

He warned that such efforts to "make terrorism exciting to young people and even to children" should be recognised as ways for al-Qaida to influence those who did not read newspapers or attend political events.

Mr Benotman suggested that Muslim democrats adopted the same methods to improve "grassroots understanding" of society. But he said the cartoon could also backfire and hinted at al-Qaida's recruitment difficulties. "The al-Qaida brand is discredited and it is not clear that gimmicks like this will be enough to save it," he said.

Cartoons have been employed by other extremist groups in recent years as ways to influence children or transmit political messages.

In April 2010 Hamas released a cartoon film showing Gilad Shalit – the soldier kidnapped by members of the terrorist group in June 2006 – in a coffin.

In 2007 there was outrage when it emerged Palestinian children were being shown programmes featuring a cartoon mouse called Farfar, who bore a striking resemblance to Disney's Mickey Mouse but who sang about world domination, resistance and guns.

Last updated: 2:17pm, July 20 2011