Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- “Does anyone in the Ummah [Muslim nation] and among the Mujahideen have new ideas on how to revive and spread the jihad ideology? Are there any new thoughts on how to strike the enemies of Islam?”
These are not questions that you would hear on television programs in regions that are troubled on both security and political levels.
It is rather an email message that surprises you when you read it in the morning alongside other messages in your inbox that clarify and explain how to make primitive bombs using simple materials that are readily available.
“We the nation of Islam in general and the Mujahideen in particular should change the manner of dealing or should find new ways and means in order to strike at and destroy the enemies of Islam not only in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other regions of direct confrontation but also in other locations from which the enemy does not expect the blows to come”.
Such messages could have come from a number of Islamists that frequent the web such as Abu-Huzayfah al-Jazairi from the land of Khorasan, the Emirate of Islam, Or Abu-Abdullah al-Marakishi or Abu-Hafs al-Masri or Ubaydah al-Salafi who frequently call for joining the fight in Iraq.
Do not be surprised by finding messages in your inbox that say, “Brother, I believe you have reached the wrong address. This is a forum for jihad and the Mujahideen that do not believe in dialogue or demonstrations but in (terrorism)”, or a message that reads, “We must call upon the people to wage jihad for the sake of God Almighty. We then begin preparing to fight without anyone knowing about this cell by gathering in playgrounds during a football match or in fitness clubs or other places that would not raise suspicion”.
It is no secret that the internet has become the preferred method for recruitment of Islamic terrorists. Al-Qaeda and others are utilizing the World Wide Web to spread their deadly propaganda and recruit new operatives which has forced security experts around the world to alter their methodology in hopes of thwarting future terrorist attacks, or capturing wanted terrorists.
Abdul-Rahman al Hadlaq, supervisor of the Interior Ministry’s Good Counsel Committee, says that 80 percent of the recruitment of youths by terrorist organizations is now achieved via the Internet after other avenues of recruitment have come under control such as the distribution of booklets and inflammatory audio cassettes that call for fighting and jihad.
Al Hadlaq told Asharq Al-Awsat that the online terrorist recruitment goes through several stages; the first stage begins with a curious youth who merely wants to read the content on hard-line websites. This is followed by the second stage of empathy with those that run the Jihadist sites that is followed by individual action to prove the sincerity of allegiance and loyalty to the group.
After that, Al-Hadlaq continued, the host of the radical website then begins to screen and gather information on the potential recruit before he is allowed to join the organization, which leads to the fifth and final stage that involves exposing the influenced and sympathetic youths to inflammatory Jihadist photographs and propaganda films that help the brainwashing process.
Al-Hadlaq attributes the exploitation by radical organizations of the internet to several tempting factors, most significant of which is the low cost of reaching a large number of people in various countries, followed by the Internet’s multimedia capabilities, and the ability to use the internet under numerous aliases.
Al-Hadlaq emphasized that several pre-emptive operations by the Interior Ministry were carried out based on information gained from the Internet.
Al-Hadlaq stressed that these radical groups, including the 172 individuals who were arrested by Saudi security authorities in the latest sweep, were dangerous because they now depended on unfamiliar faces that are not on wanted lists and are not known to be active in such groups, “These groups now avoid using old tactics, such as meeting in mosques; they now meet in cafes and sports clubs”.