Iraqi jihadis have their own TV network?

If you’d told me on 9/11 that this was technologically or strategically possible, I’d have laughed at you.

Yet here we are.

Most hours of the day it plays footage of U.S. soldiers in Iraq being shot and blown up in insurgent attacks, often with religious chants or Saddam Hussein-era nationalist anthems in the background. There are segments warning Iraq’s Sunni Arabs to be wary of Shiite Muslims, and occasional English-language commentary and subtitles clearly meant to demoralize U.S. troops…

Iraqi government efforts to track down the renegade station have come to naught. No one’s quite sure where it broadcasts from or even who is behind it. Iraqi national security advisor Mowaffak Rubaie and a senior U.S. military official said it was broadcasting from somewhere near the Kurdish city of Irbil at one point and recently signed a distribution deal with the Egyptian satellite company NileSat.

That’s from today’s LA Times. Pajamas Media had this story three days ago and what’s more, they claim to know where the signal’s coming from. So does Bill Roggio, who had this nine days ago.

Where else? Syria.

From that secret studio somewhere in Syria, al-Zawraa TV’s signal extends to the entire Arab world thanks to a satellite owned by Egypt, Pajamas Media has learned…

The channel’s reach is not limited to Iraq—a fact that highlights the Egyptian government’s apparent permissiveness. Al-Zawraa is broadcast on Nilesat, a satellite administered by the Egyptian government. Through Nilesat, al-Zawraa’s signal blankets the Middle East and North Africa, thus ensuring that the insurgents’ message reaches the entire Arab world.

Al-Zawraa TV began broadcasting on November 14. The channel was set up by the Islamic Army of Iraq, an insurgent group comprised of former Baathists who were loyal to Saddam Hussein and now profess a conversion to a bin Laden-like ideology…

That’s the same Egyptian government that receives $2 billion a year in U.S. foreign aid.

So why hasn’t it been shut down? Because, according to Roggio, the military wants it on the air:

While the Iraqi soldiers and interpreters want al-Zawraa shut down, members of the U.S. intelligence community disagree. According to a military intelligence officer serving in Iraq, U.S. intelligence doesn’t want to shut al-Zawraa down as it provides intelligence on the insurgents activities. When I asked senior American military and intelligence sources about shutting down pro-jihadi websites in the past, they expressed the same sentiment.

According to the Times, though, “[s]ome U.S. military officers shrug off Al Zawraa, saying it rarely broadcasts anything new.” Roggio himself says he recognized a lot of its programming as recycled jihadi recruitment videos, too. Where’s the intel value in that, especially vis-a-vis the propaganda value? But judge for yourself: the Times quotes a bit of narration from one program referencing Michael Moore that I recognized instantly:

Even Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911,” the 2004 documentary critical of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, gets drawn into the commentary.

“After all, there are honest guys in America,” the announcer says in comments directed at President Bush. “If Mr. Moore can talk to you like that, so can I.”

We had it back in September. It’s “The Code of Silence.”