Internet Jihad Update: Jihad leader Omar Bakri hasn’t really left Britain at all. He just speaks to his followers via a webcast. “Internet spreads terror to Britain,” by Andrew Alderson and Miles Goslett in the Sunday Telegraph (thanks to WriterMom):
It is 11pm on Tuesday and Omar Bakri Mohammed’s loyal band of followers hunch over computers and laptops at secret locations across Britain to listen to his defiant message to the west.
Many are hoping that the Muslim cleric, who lives in the Lebanese capital Beirut after being banned from the UK, will spell out his views on the Government’s decision to give Salman Rushdie a knighthood. Bakri does not disappoint them.
After listening to Bakri’s lecture for more than two hours on a secretive internet chat room, one participant asks in a written question: “Is there a new fatwa against salman and the queen for giving [the knighthood]?”
Speaking with a heavy middle eastern accent, Bakri responds: “Salman Rushdie, no doubt what he did was an apostasy”¦ not because he get knighthood but because he insulted the honour of the prophet Mohammed (with his book The Satanic Verses)”¦ He is murtadd (a traitor for rejecting Islam) anyway so there isn’t any need for a new fatwa”¦ People like him deserve to get the capital punishment.”
Bakri and his followers had their discussion on a webcast. The webcasts can run several times a week, and up to 70 people a night log in, each with an individual password.
The Sunday Telegraph monitored a range of extremist websites and chatrooms last week as part of an investigation into the spread of Islamist militancy on the internet. MI5, the security service, and Scotland Yard are increasingly concerned that the internet is being used by terrorists to incite attacks in Britain and to recruit volunteers.
We discovered extremists posting messages and images on a recently established, password-protected pro-Islamist site. It is on sites like this that Bakri’s broadcasts are referred to openly, with advice on what time they begin and even requests not to “arrive” in the chatroom late. There are also dozens of photographs celebrating, among others, Osama bin Laden, and a tasteless message expressing “amusement” at photographs of American soldiers killed by terrorists.
Vigil, a privately funded intelligence group, believes much of the extremist material comes from al-Qaeda sympathisers in Britain.
The EU announced a month ago that it wanted to strengthen its monitoring of militant Islamist websites. “Terrorists use the internet not only as a means to communicate and spread propaganda, but also to radicalise, recruit and train terrorists, to spread instructions on how to carry out concrete offences and to transfer covert information,” a meeting of ambassadors concluded.
Patrick Mercer, the former Conservative spokesman for homeland security, said of the growing use of the internet by militants: “This is a much greater threat than people realise. Radicalisation is taking place on a number of different fronts and more people are sympathetic than we dare believe. The only way to penetrate this is by the careful development of intelligence sources and a clear understanding of the radicalisation process.”