Jihadists have made use of the Internet for years, as has often been noted here. It enables them to reach cultural Muslims to whom they otherwise would have no access. So there is nothing particularly new here — just more of it. And more also of the euphemisms and figleafs the mainstream media employs constantly so as to divert attention from the fact that it is Islamic jihadists who are doing the recruiting, and doing so by referring to Islamic texts and teachings. We don’t hear that these people are Muslims until the ninth paragraph of this Reuters story, although it is implied in the eighth.
And why does it matter? Because no defending force can defeat an enemy it refuses to name or study, and thus does not understand. If Islamic jihadists are indeed using texts and teachings of Islam to gain recruits, it ultimately makes little difference whether or not they are using those texts and teachings correctly. What matters is that Western military and law enforcement analysts understand their beliefs and ideology. But instead, they have determined that those things are best ignored.
“Internet seen a growing weapon in Asian radicalization,” from Reuters, March 6 (thanks to all who sent this in):
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Extremist groups in Southeast Asia are increasingly using the internet and social networking to radicalize the youth of the region, said a new security report released Friday.
Internet usage in Southeast Asia has exploded since 2000 and extremist groups have developed a sophisticated online presence, including professional media units.
“For extremist groups in our region, the internet is an increasingly important tool for recruitment to violence,” said the report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“Importantly, they aren’t attacking only the West, but are drawing on their narrative to attack the governance arrangements of regional states,” said the report titled “Countering internet radicalization in Southeast Asia” (www.aspi.org.au/).
The report said online extremism first appeared in Southeast Asia in early 2000, particularly in the Bahasa Indonesia and Malay language cyber-environment.
Since then internet usage in the region has exploded and so too have extremist websites, chat rooms and blogs.
The number of radical and extremist websites in Bahasa and Malay rose from 15 in 2007 to 117 in 2008. Of those, sympathetic websites rose from 10 to 16 and sympathetic blogs and social networking rose from zero to 82.
Between 2006 and July 2007, radical regional websites have disseminated al-Qaeda and Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah propaganda videos, pictures and statements, it said.
In Indonesia, which has battled extremist Muslim groups responsible for bombings, internet usage rose from 2 million in 2000 to 20 million in January 2008.
The country now represents 80 to 90 percent of visitors to 10 radical and extremist websites in the region, said the report.
The Philippines, which has a Muslim insurgency, has seen internet usage rise to 14 million from 2 million in 2000, Malaysia 14.9 million from 3.7 million and Thailand 8.5 million from 2.3 million in the same period.
“The Bahasa and Malay language websites include sites manned by radical and extremist groups, Islamic boarding schools (pesantrens), and groups of individuals who sympathize with and support the ideology of violent jihad,” said the report.
One of the first appearances of a “tradecraft manual” was in August 2007 in the then forum, Jihad al-Firdaus. The forum had a section on electronic jihad, including several hacking manuals. In 2008 the region’s first sophisticated bomb-making manual and bomb-making video were posted on the Forum Al-Tawbah, which is registered in Shah Alam, Selangor and Malaysia, said the report.
But it said there had been no serious attempt to plan militant operations in these forums, adding further details of their activities were in private messages or personal emails.
Extremists were using a variety of technology to spread their message. “Blogs and personal social networking accounts provided more than half of the increase in 2008,” said the report.
Militant groups have also become internet media savvy.
The Mujahidin Syura Council, an extremist group that claims to operate in southern Thailand, launched an official media wing in July 2008 as a blog on Google, said the report.
The Khattab Media Publication’s blog is mainly written in Malay and was used to announce the start of a new military campaign, codenamed Operation Tawbah (Operation Repentance).
Another group, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, often produces high-quality videos of its activities and uploads them onto YouTube. Many of the videos focus on the failings of the Indonesian government and the need to implement sharia law and establish an Islamic caliphate, said the report.
“Extremist groups without access to mainstream media place great value on having online media units to boost their reputations and recruit people via the internet,” it said….