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The Globalization of Jihad: From Islamist Resistance to War Against the West - The Jihadist Network Today

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The Globalization of Jihad: From Islamist Resistance to War Against the West
The Jihadist Network Today
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THE JIHADIST NETWORK TODAY

The infrastructure of al-Qaeda has not been destroyed, but shattered into a thousand smaller pieces. Its leaders do not despair at this turn of events, rather they rejoice because the fragments of their global terrorist network still operated in countries around the world and are still capable of inflicting serious damage in those regions. Though al-Qaeda’s collective power is diminished, the number of targets demanding the West’s attention has increased.

Moreover, the war on terrorism has spawned many new anti-Western groups and organizations throughout the Muslim world. The leaders of al-Qaeda are reaching out to these groups and providing money, logistics and other support. However, al-Qaeda is not necessarily trying to bring them into its own organizational structure. Rather, it has learned the value of a decentralized network.

The situation today is even more dangerous than it was before. Al-Qaeda presented the West with a single, if geographically diffused, target. Now, the West faces a myriad of new enemies, some of which it has yet to identify. These smaller groups are able to act independently and the elimination of one often has little or no affect on those that remain.

Though Osama Bin Laden is no longer able to exert command and control of the jihadist forces, suicide attacks and other forms of terrorism continue throughout the world. Even though it no longer serves a central organizing role, al-Qaeda has become a source of inspiration to militant groups in Asia, the Caucuses and throughout the Middle East. These groups have adopted its ideology, the ideology of global jihad against the West, and many are supported in part by al-Qaeda funding.

It is believed that the vast wealth being controlled directly or indirectly by al-Qaeda and other members of this network, is largely acquired through the international diamond trade. This is why Osama Bin Laden said “a diamond cuts a diamond” in one of his previous recordings.

Al-Qaeda is also developing new tactics for use in the United States and Europe. On 7 January 1999, I spoke at the U.S. State Department and warned America of the danger posed by Osama Bin Laden to this country. I spoke about how his operatives were infiltrating the United States on student visas and using charitable monies to fund their terrorist plots. Later, in meetings with the FBI, I warned that al-Qaeda was trying to recruit Caucasians converts to carry out terrorist attacks. Regrettably, all of these things have come to pass.

Today, my instincts tell me that the jihadists will use chemical weapons in their next major attack, and they will use young people – perhaps even children – to deliver them. I fear they will target a school or other venue filled with people, using small bottles or perhaps even toys or candies filled with chemical agents. In this way, they may harm a large number of innocent people. Perhaps such an attack will be launched here, in the United States, but it may also happen in Europe, or some other place around the world. No one can predict where it might take place.

In addition to using young people, the jihadists are also actively trying to recruit the mentally ill and those with social problems – even to the extent of hacking into patient records to identify suitable candidates. Such people are the easiest to recruit for suicide bombings. They give them money, get them married, support them and prepare them for a time when they be called on to carry out their attack. Since they influence such people with Islamic teachings, they fill their minds with hatred of the West. If they succeed in converting them to their twisted version of Islam, that only increases their motivation towards destructive action.

I would also like to warn the United States that it is falling into another trap in Iraq, where the jihadists have formed special cells to spread disinformation. These agents spread false information, accusing innocent Iraqis of being part of the insurgency in order to convince Coalition forces to arrest them. When they do, these people are held up as symbols of the Coalition’s injustice. Thus, they help spread hatred among people who are otherwise unsympathetic to their rebellion. The jihadists have also planted agents among the Iraqi police and security forces, both to spy on American activities and spread even more false information.

Increasingly, al-Qaeda sees its own role as fomenting and fueling anti-Western sentiment throughout the Muslim world, counting on local radicals to capitalize on it and harness that energy. The bombings in London are a tragic case in point. Though the radicals behind that plot were inspired by al-Qaeda, they were not funded by the global terrorist network, nor did they receive any specific orders from it.

The Spanish investigation of the 2004 Madrid bombings revealed that jihadist groups operating as part of different organizational structures and under different leadership nonetheless collaborated with each and even shared funding in order to facilitate attacks on Western targets in Europe. This movement hides behind the millions of Muslims living in the Untied States and Europe, even though the vast majority of these Muslims reject them and their radical agenda.

Increasingly, the jihadists are using the Internet to coordinate the activities of this decentralized network. Italy alone has identified 13,246 potential targets and has deployed 18,061 police, 2,500 military personnel and thousands of additional employees to observe some 13,000 websites that have suspicious ties after it received information that some were being used by the extremists to plot terrorist activities and recruit volunteers to carry out suicide attacks.[1]

This challenge will continue to spread in the Muslim world, just as the movement against the United States has spread in South America, beginning in Venezuela and spreading over the past couple of years to Bolivia and Chile.