Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
While the entire world is focused on combating radical Islamic militancy on the ground, another ‘world’ – the web is being gradually hijacked by radical Islam and jihadist theories thus creating hundreds and thousands of lone wolves notorious monsters that pose gravest threat to peace, security and humanity. Whether scholars will agree or not – Muslims are greatly inspired by their holy scriptures – Koran and Hadith to kill Jews, Christians and infidels. Radical Islamic militancy groups always cite the verses in those scriptures as an “instruction from Allah” to wage jihad against Jews, Christians and infidels. And most disturbing fact is – these provocative messages are spreading fast mostly through the internet amongst the Muslim community in the world, thus posing huge threat to global security. While policymakers are feeling delighted in seeing radical Islamic militancy been contained in most of the countries, the cyber jihad is gradually expanding fangs reaching households and even radicalizing the children.
The jihadist flagship organization al Qaeda has had a degree success in combining its 14th century Islamic ideology with its skillful use of 21st century technology to conduct a two-pronged approach of attracting followers to the cause and attacking its enemies. Cyber jihad fits perfectly with al Qaeda’s strategy of dispersed cells that can either carry out attacks on their own [Lone Wolf] and in small groups [Wolf Pack], or affiliate with a larger organization (i.e. through training camps) in a Muslim-dominated region of the world.
Cyber jihad differs mainly from cyber terrorism in the sense that it constitutes information presented on behalf of a terrorist organization or lone jihadist whereas the latter usually refers to “hacking attacks” in order to wage economic, political and psychological warfare. For now, cyber jihad is essentially a means to an end: a resource. As such, there has been growing trend to see terrorist groups relying on the Internet for propaganda and communication rather than for attacking it, although this trend could inverse with time. Ultimately, the Internet has proved to be the most efficient medium to quickly spread information to a worldwide audience while greatly reducing the risk of being detected.
The types of attacks that spawn from internet jihad can range from IED [Improvised Explosive Device] placements around Fallujah, Iraq, to the major bombing of a European train station. The Internet has become such an essential global phenomenon, that most jihadists could do very little without it. Cyber jihad demonstrates the dichotomy of the Internet: a device to facilitate the flow of information for the progress of society, and a device that can use its principal tenants to conduct sinister activities. Moreover, the Internet is something that can translate into the physical world, just as cyber jihad can translate into violent jihadization.
In 2012, Lisa Abend in an article in TIME magazine wrote, “The enemies of Allah who boast of their freedoms have not spared any effort to eradicate our blessed media.” After two weeks of silence, the jihadist forum Shamukh al Islam came back online yesterday with a gloat: an apparent cyber attack against Shamukh and four similar sites had failed to shut it down permanently. But terrorism analysts see the event in a different light. As they investigate the mystery of who caused the outage and why, most can’t help seeing in the blackout one more piece of evidence that al-Qaeda is in disarray.
“Websites like Shamukh al Islam perform a critical function in jihadist circles. Loaded with videos that depict alleged Western atrocities against Muslims, they recruit supporters, while their chat rooms and forums allow jihadists around the globe to communicate with one another and exchange information, including instructions on bomb construction and chemical warfare.”
In 2016, CNBC in a report said, “Much of the chatter on jihadi chat boards comes from Europeans and Americans, often social outcasts living vicariously through the online reputation of their handle — including disenfranchised teens or jailhouse Muslim converts turned radicals, Scott said. They may not have strong coding skills, but they have access to Western institutions and businesses and are looking to leverage that access to serve ISIS.”
As we know, there are few thousand jihadist websites in the world while social media networks as well as video sharing sites too are being used by the jihadist groups in luring people towards militancy. Moreover, jihadist also are using various messaging apps such as Telegram in spreading hatred and giving provocation to the Muslims in waging “holy war” against the Jews, Christians and the “infidels”. Those jihadist groups even do not hesitate in posting names of their targets in some of the social media and or share it through secured messaging apps.
According to my research, jihadist websites are operated mainly by using servers from Russia and Canada. There also are jihadist websites using offshore servers as well as servers from the United Kingdom. Although many countries are regularly hunting such websites and social media and video sharing account of the jihadists, the emergence of such sites and accounts could not be totally stopped yet.
In My research I have seen, whenever one of the jihadist websites are taken down, at least four of such websites are almost immediately emerge on the web. It’s like the most difficult mission or the toughest-ever challenges faced by the counterterrorism experts and organizations around the world.
While we are expressing our concerns seeing Arab children in so-called Palestine being regularly given jihadist indoctrination and armed training, we still don’t know how many of children in the West are learning jihad and even how to make bombs. Muslim women in the West are putting on hijab and burqa being motivated by these websites and even secretly taking preparations of sacrificing their lives towards the “noble path of Allah” by turning into lone wolves.
Unless we can substantially combat the cyber jihad, we will certainly witness a very disturbed world in the days to come.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz.
Watch the disturbing video, which shows how non-Muslims are not only converted into Islam but also being totally brainwashed: