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The Jihadist's guide to the galaxy
As online indoctrination spreads to the relatively untapped American market, we take closer look at the darker alleys of the Internet

“I see 16, 17-year-olds who have been indoctrinated on the Internet turn up on the battlefield,” says US Army Brigadier-General John Custer. And as head of intelligence for the US Central Command, he should know. “We capture them; we kill them every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan."

 

But while the use of the Internet as a recruiting tool is old news in the Middle East, experts are now warning that jihadist websites aimed at young Americans have made the jump from amateurish to dangerously sophisticated.

 

As with any new product in an oversaturated market, the polished online publication aimed to tap into an overlooked niche. And from the worried reviews of terrorism experts, 'Jihad Recollections' may well have succeeded in doing just that.

 

Nothing short of a comprehensive guide for the beginning jihadist, the Internet magazine provides its readers with everything from translations of the teachings of Al-Qaeda leaders Osama Bin-Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, to discussions on how best to expand the global jihad and detailed explanations of night vision technology and the principles of guerrilla warfare.

 

“What started off as some angry kids in their basement has transformed over the past several years into a robust Al Qaeda propaganda outlet right here in our backyard,” Fox News quotes terrorism scholar Dr. Jarret Brachman as saying.

 

Brachman, a renowned expert on Al-Qaeda and the spread of jihad, added that the new magazine "raises the bar for pro-Al Qaeda propaganda in English. Its presentation is flashier than any English language Al Qaeda propaganda that we’ve seen to date.”

 

Hunting for candidates

But while 'Jihad Recollections' manages to avoid any explicit calls for violence, the jump to places like the 'Al-Hesbah' forum is short. Dedicated to global jihad, the forum offers a detailed plan Muslims interested in joining the "struggle."

 

Authored by a well-known online figure called 'Dar Li-man Wahada,' the PDF document is aimed at preparing the next generation of Al-Qaeda loyalists. After explaining that the plans were drawn up after consulting active Mujahideen, Dar Li adds that the target audience is young men under the age of 25 "who have not yet succeeded in reaching the fighting areas."

 

Opening with a series of verses from the Quran, the instruction manual offers its readers thorough training regimens and advises them on how to conceal their efforts from prying familial eyes.

 

Another program posted to the 'Shabkat Al-Muhahideen Al-Electroniya' forum outlines the necessary precautions to ensure a successful attack on infidels. "The youth who are carrying out Jihad in their country against the Zionists, the Crusaders and against Muslims who have left the religion, must consider a number of very important questions," the author writes, such as whether they have sufficient funds to carry out the attack and whether they can purchase arms without raising suspicion.

 

While some schools of thought dismiss the aforementioned publications as fantasy outlets – terror organizations have and continue to recruit new members to their ranks through the Internet. By closely monitoring content and activity levels, jihadist headhunters are able to identify potential candidates among the surfers and offer them to put theory into practice.

 

While some schools of thought dismiss the aforementioned publications as fantasy outlets – terror organizations have and continue to recruit new members to their ranks through the Internet. By closely monitoring content and activity levels, jihadist headhunters are able to identify potential candidates among the surfers and offer them to put theory into practice.

 

Niv Lillian is the editor of Ynet’s Computers and Internet channel

 

Nir Boms is vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East

 

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