Web used to recruit jihadists

Analysis: Cyber jihadis circumvent borders

By YAAKOV LAPPIN, Jerusalem Post, June 29, 2010

Too many web sites indoctrinate recruits.

The online jihadi presence has once again sent its long tentacles into Israel, using the Internet to circumvent 20th century border controls to exert its lethal influence on a group of Arab Israeli men.

At least seven suspects from Nazareth and the surrounding area declared their allegiance to al-Qaida and its global holy war thanks to online indoctrination, according to security services.

The process was made possible by the array of jihadi Web sites that indoctrinate recruits and provide them with tips on how to operate weapons and assemble explosives.

Al-Qaida’s main point of access into Israel is via the Web, just as the Internet has opened the door to international jihadi doctrines and incitement to violence in dozens of other Western states.  

The Salafi ideology championed by Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been adopted by many others who have set up affiliated groups around the world. They all aim at nothing less than the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate to replace the current world order.

The international jihadi movement scorns Hamas, which is viewed by Salafis as too fixated on Palestinian nationalism, and is keen to set up a jihadi polity in any place on Earth that it can, be it in Gaza, Afghanistan or Somalia.

Online jihadis urge one another to travel to destinations seen as likely contenders for the next caliphate, such as Somalia, the country which the seven suspects attempted to enter to join the brigades of “holy warriors,” before they were intercepted by the authorities in Kenya.

Many of the ideas dominating the global jihadi movement have evolved out of the writings of Egyptian Sayid Qutb (1906-1966), who argued that no country on Earth qualifies as a true “House of Islam” if it fails to turn the Koran into its official constitution and enforce a Taliban-like regime.

“The rest of the world is the home of hostility [Dar al-Harb]. A Muslim can have only two possible relations with Dar al-Harb: peace with a contractual agreement, or war,” Qutb wrote in his book, Milestones, today a bible for jihadi recruits.

Such ideas threaten the stability of every Middle Eastern state, from Jordan to Egypt to Saudi Arabia; all viewed by bin Laden’s adherents as Western puppets.

Israel has traditionally been less of an urgent target for al-Qaida, which was keen on focusing on toppling Arab and Asian states. But that changed in 2008, when bin Laden released an online audio recording calling for his soldiers of terror to target Israel.

“We will continue, God permitting, the fight against the Israelis and their allies… and will not give up a single inch of Palestine as long as there is one true Muslim on Earth,” bin Laden declared.

Bin Laden released his message in May 2008, to coincide with Israel’s 60th anniversary. Two months later, two Israeli Beduin from the Negev town of Rahat were charged with plotting terrorist attacks over the Internet with al- Qaida members overseas and marking out civilian and military sites in Israel for attack, including the landmark Azrieli towers in Tel Aviv.

In April 2009, a terrorist cell made up of six Israeli fellahim and a Beduin from the North were arrested and charged with preparing several bombs and simulating the kidnapping of soldiers while engaging in Internet communications with a terrorist operative based in Gaza, known as “Abu Kassam.”

Israeli security forces will likely increase their own undercover online presence, in an effort to keep the everpresent online jihadi presence at bay.

Yaakov Lappin will publish a book called Virtual Caliphate on the use of the internet by jihadis in September, to be published by Potomac Books.

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