The Internet is a powerful tool for jihad recruitment because it can be accessed by anyone at any time. In past ages a jihadist preacher would have had to make a laborious and perilous journey in order to make the recruits that can be made quickly and easily online now. “The powerful online voice of jihad,” by Michelle Shephard for the Toronto Star, October 18 (thanks to James):
In a snowy field near Barrie, a group of young Muslim men listened intently to the eloquent voice emanating from the laptop.
Anwar al Awlaki preached in perfect Arabic and flawless English about the need to fight in the name of religion, because the “world is united in fighting Islam.”
The time for jihad is now, no matter your training, he told members of the group that would later become known as the Toronto 18. Six months following that “training camp,” those youths were rounded up in Canada’s largest post-9/11 terrorism investigation and charged with plotting to blow up downtown Toronto and military targets.
Zakaria Amara, the leader of that group, entered a surprise guilty plea earlier this month. A date for his sentencing is to be set on Tuesday.
Awlaki’s role in allegedly inciting “homegrown terrorism” was just a footnote in the volumes of evidence submitted in the Toronto case.
But in recent months, as Awlaki’s name has popped up in terrorism cases in Canada, the U.S. and Britain, intelligence services are closely monitoring the U.S.-born cleric….
One of Awlaki’s most popular video series is “Constants of Jihad,” in which he translates and interprets a well-known Arabic book promoting fighting in the name of Islam.
“Whenever you see the word terrorist, replace it with the word mujahid,” he says on the video. “Whenever you see the word terrorism, replace it with the word jihad.”
RCMP informant Mubin Shaikh, one of the Crown’s star witnesses against the Toronto suspects, was at the December 2005 training camp when the video was played.
“Guys like Anwar al Awlaki provide do-it-yourself Islam,” Shaikh told the Star. “He’s building a fantasy and then pushing them over the edge. It appeals at a very basic level. It’s like sheep food and they gobble it up.”…
This implies, of course, that Anwar al Awlaki is actually getting Islam wrong, wrong, wrong. But once again, for the umpteenth time, we see the broad allegation being made, without any specifics to back it up. Yet without those specifics, this airy and general dismissal is unlikely to convince any Muslims who may be swayed by al Awlaki that his understanding of Islam is incorrect.
[…] Awlaki was born in New Mexico but returned with his family to Yemen when he was young. In 1991, he came back at 20 to study engineering at Colorado State University. He received a master’s degree in education in San Diego and later enrolled in a human resource development PhD program at George Washington University.
During his time in the U.S. he was an imam at San Diego’s Rabat mosque, a Muslim chaplain in Washington and an imam at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va.
And apparently no one in any of those places denounced him as an “extremist” or explained to him how he was twisting and hijacking Islam. Of course, maybe he was “moderate” back then.
Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI interviewed Awlaki (also spelled Aulaqi) owing to his connections to two of the 9/11 hijackers.
“(Nawaf al) Hamzi and (Khalid al) Mihdhar reportedly respected Aulaqi as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him,” the 9/11 Commission Report concluded.
A large-scale Misunderstander of Islam was respected as a religious figure? Hmmm.
Read it all.