MIM: Hizb ut Tahrir is the precursor of Al Muhajiroun.
They have the same ideology but a different following .
Members of the Hizb ut Tahrir in the U.K. are often British born and educated while Al Muhajiroun attract the blue collar and unemployed.
The group who runs 1924.org can be regarded as the yuppie contingent of Al Muhajiroun.
In 1996 Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed split with HT to form AM.
Hizb ut Tahrir has been implicated in recent terrorist attacks in the former Soviet Union and was connected to the 9/11 hijackers in Germany. http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4260687-110340,00.html
See articles below .
Letter from HT leader Waheed to Professor Weimann
By Fax email and post
Professor Gabriel Weimann,
United States Institute of Peace,
1200 17th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20036
14th April 2004
Re: "www.terror.net How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet"
Dear Professor Weimann,
I write on behalf of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain.
This is a letter of complaint about your recent special report [March 2004] for the United States Institute of Peace entitled "www.terror.net How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet".
The report erroneously states on Page 77 under the subheading ‘Fundraising':
"The Sunni extremist group Hizb al-Tahrir uses an integrated web of Internet sites, stretching from Europe to Africa, which asks supporters to assist the effort by giving money and encouraging others to donate to the cause of jihad. Banking information, including the numbers of accounts into which donations can be deposited, is provided on a site based in Germany."
This statement appears in a section of your report that examines how terrorist groups use the Internet to raise funds.
Readers of your report are led to make two conclusions about Hizb ut-Tahrir:
- That Hizb ut-Tahrir is a terrorist or extremist group
- That Hizb ut-Tahrir uses Internet sites that detail banking information that encourage people to ‘donate to the case of jihad'
Both of these allegations are wholly inaccurate, misleading and false. Your report provides no evidence whatsoever to substantiate either of these serious claims.
As for the first allegation, Hizb ut-Tahrir is well known as a non-violent Islamic political party that works throughout the Islamic world to resume the Islamic way of life by re-establishing the Islamic Khilafah [Caliphate]. The party adheres to the Islamic Shari'ah in all aspects of its work. It considers violence or armed struggle against the regime, as a method to re-establish the Islamic State, to be forbidden by the Islamic Shari'ah. On many occasions, Hizb ut-Tahrir has pointed out that it is an intellectual and political entity that rejects the use of violence, armed struggle or terrorism.
In our widely available media kit [http://www.1924.org/press/media_kit/] it is clearly stated that, "Though Hizb ut-Tahrir committed itself to be open, clear and challengingly in its call, it restricted itself to political actions alone and did not exceed them by resorting to material actions against the rulers or against those who opposed its call."
In all of our press releases [http://www.1924.org/press/pressreleases/], in the "Notes to Editors" footnote, we clearly state that "Hizb ut-Tahrir is an independent political party whose ideology is Islam. The party works throughout the Islamic world to resume the Islamic way of life by re-establishing the Islamic Khilafah [Caliphate]. The party adheres to the Islamic Shari'ah in all aspects of its work. It considers violence or armed struggle against the regime, as a method to re-establish the Islamic State, to be forbidden by the Islamic Shari'ah. In the Western world, the party seeks to explain the Islamic ideology to Muslims, to create a dialogue with Western thinkers about Capitalism and its ills and to present Islam as an ideological alternative."
A letter published in Time Magazine, in response to similar false allegations, said "Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party whose ideology is Islam. The party works throughout the Islamic world to resume the Islamic way of life by re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate. The work of the party is intellectual and political. The party considers violence or armed struggle against the regime, as a method to re-establish the Islamic State, a violation of the Islamic Shari'ah." [Page 15, Time Magazine, October 21 2002].
Numerous articles produced by a variety of media outlets including Reuters, AP, Itar-Tass, Pravda, AFP and RFERL to name just a few, have clearly pointed out that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a non-violent organisation that has ruled out armed struggle, violence or terrorism as part of its methodology.
As for the second allegation, Hizb ut-Tahrir has never asked anyone "to assist the effort by giving money and encouraging others to donate to the cause of jihad" by any means – Internet or otherwise. Hizb ut-Tahrir's official website [www.hizb-ut-tahrir.org] contains the party's official books, pamphlets, leaflets, political analyses and views. Our website has never contained ‘banking information' and has never asked anyone "to assist the effort by giving money and encouraging others to donate to the cause of jihad".
Hizb ut-Tahrir utilises the Internet solely to propagate its thoughts, views and opinions. In addition to the Internet, we also propagate our thoughts, views and opinions via other means such as lectures, conferences, seminars, roundtable discussions, leaflets, pamphlets, books, audio tapes and video tapes.
We feel that academics in your position have a responsibility to the academic community and the public at large to ensure that the level of research is maintained to a high standard and that you state the facts and not mere hearsay.
In the light of these inaccurate allegations, we kindly ask that you remedy this situation immediately by issuing a prominent written retraction and apology at the earliest opportunity that points out that the allegations made by your report were in fact incorrect and unfounded. We also expect that the inaccurate reference to our organisation, in printed copies of the report and on the Internet, will be immediately removed.
Although we would like an amicable and swift resolution to our complaint we will not hesitate in resorting to legal remedy if necessary. After having consulted with our lawyers, we would like to inform you that this letter would be put before a judge as legal evidence in any legal action arising from the publication of your report that we decide to take in the future.
Thanking you in advance of your reply.
Dr Imran Waheed [MB ChB]
Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain
Imran Waheed head of Hizb ut Tahrir
|Call to prosecute militant group |
| Board calls for group to be prosecuted |
The Board of Deputies has written to the Metropolitan Police calling for the prosecution of the militant organisation Hizb-ut Tahrir under the Public Order Act.
As recently as last week, the organisation repeatedly called for the killing of Jews on its website.
On various occasions over recent years, the Board has drawn to the attention of the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General antisemitic statements made by Hizb-ut Tahrir. Recent remarks by its spokesman, Dr. Imran Waheed, and material posted on their website constitute a clear incitement to racial hatred.
Board Director General Neville Nagler commented: Hizb-ut Tahrir have repeatedly calling for the killing of Jews and the annihilation of the State of Israel. With the worrying increase in antisemitism in Great Britain over the past two years, it is unacceptable that this organisation continues to operate freely. Their dangerous vitriol cannot be allowed to spill on to British streets and we ask that the authorities act immediately to prosecute them.?
Germany imposes ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir
January 15 2003
Germany's top law enforcement official outlawed an Islamic organization Wednesday, citing the spread of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda to explain the third such ban since Sept. 11.
Little is known about the organization and structure of Hizb ut-Tahrir, but German authorities say the group — whose name means Liberation party — advocates the destruction of Israel and has called for the killing of Jews.
In conjunction with the ban, police raided 30 properties in five of Germany's 16 states, seizing propaganda but making no arrests.
Interior Minister Otto Schily expressed particular concern over the spread of propaganda at universities, noting that several of the Sept. 11 plotters studied in Germany.
"I will not tolerate organizations here engaging in anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli hate propaganda," Schily told a news conference. Inciting racial or anti-Semitic hatred is outlawed in Germany.
Describing the group as secretive, Schily said it has been active in Germany distributing leaflets with anti-Semitic messages at mosques, Islamic centers and universities. It also has a German-language magazine and Web site, delivering the same propaganda.
But authorities have no reliable information on how many people in Germany belong to the group, or whether it has links with other Islamic organizations. "We are following some trails," Schily said.
Schily described an event at Berlin's Technical University last October during which a speaker made anti-Semitic remarks and urged the introduction of a caliphate, or strict Islamic state, in Muslim countries.
It remains unclear how successful the group was at recruiting at universities — a concern for German authorities since revelations that the Hamburg cell of Sept. 11 plotters posed as ordinary foreign students for years before the deadly mission.
Hizb ut-Tahrir rejects accusations of extremism and says its aim is to restore the "Islamic way of life" in the Muslim world. A spokesman for the group in Britain said Germany's action was "tantamount to thought-policing."
"We are not against Jews or Christians. We are against the state of Israel," Imran Waheed said by telephone. The group "doesn't believe in the use of violence and armed struggle to achieve its aims."
The group has been under observation by officials in Germany since at least 2000. In November, federal authorities raided 27 apartments belonging to members of sympathizers across the country on suspicion of founding a radical Islamic organization.
Under anti-terror legislation introduced after Sept. 11, Germany loosened legal protections for religious groups and allowed for the first time outlawing of foreign-based groups. That opened the way for the government to ban the Caliphate State organization in 2001 and the Aachen-based Al-Aqsa organization last November.
The Caliphate State openly calls for the overthrow of Turkey's secular government and its replacement with an Islamic state. German authorities say Al-Aqsa organization posed as a charity to collect money for the radical Islamic movement Hamas.
Hizb ut-Tahrir was formed in Jordan in 1953 by Taqi Eddin al-Nabahani, a Palestinian who died in unclear circumstances in the Palestinian territories in 1978. Egyptian authorities outlawed the group in 1974 after blaming it for an attempted coup.
The current leader is the Palestinian Abdul-Kaddim Zalloum, whose whereabouts are unknown. Schily said he believes the group is based in London but was not certain.
Hizb ut-Tahrir faces strong opposition in former Soviet Central Asia, where it is banned and pursued as an extremist organization.
In Uzbekistan, human rights groups say an estimated 4,000 of the country's 7,000 political prisoners are from Hizb ut-Tahrir, and Tashkent has pushed for western countries to also blacklist the group.
Below Hizb ut Tahrir accuses President Bush and Dr. Daniel Pipes of planning a US government backed campaign to change Islam. The Institute which HT claims Dr.Pipes is founding, is based on speculation and was never commented upon publicly by Dr.Pipes himself . HT also states that Dr. Pipes is "a close associate" of president Bush. Undoubtly both the President and Dr.Pipes will be surprised by this bit of news as well, especially when it comes from such an impeccable source as Khalifah.com itself. http://www.khilafah.com/home/category.php?DocumentID=9439&TagID=1
The Future of Muslims in Britain
uploaded 29 Apr 2004
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِِ
The Future of Muslims in Britain
The situation of Muslims is one of the most pressing issues facing British society today. There has been a huge rise in the number of attacks on Muslims in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. A climate of siege, fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims has raised a serious question on the future of Muslims in Britain. While the fall-out of attacks on 11th September and subsequent ‘war on terrorism' has had a real impact on Muslims in Britain, the fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims and discrimination, whether as a result of racism or religious discrimination is nothing new and has always existed.
The 1980s saw Muslims in Britain struggling for official acknowledgement of religious rights against a backdrop of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in wider British society. The case of The Satanic Verses clearly highlighted the hatred of Islam in the blasphemous content of this book in the name of freedom of speech and clearly showed that the law of the land can not protect the values and beliefs of Muslims.
With continuous discrimination and demonising of Muslims in all parts of society, there has been a sudden rise in the activities of the British National Party (BNP) who actively campaign against Muslims and Islam. In the name of freedom of speech they are allowed to show their enmity against Islam but when it comes to the protection of Muslim rights and seeking justice, this has been ignored by the very society that advocates human rights.
After the events in America and subsequent events of Afghanistan, war in Iraq and most recently, the Madrid bombings. The continuous hounding of innocent Muslims throughout Britain and Europe, discriminating anti-terrorist legislation, which allows detaining of Muslims with the presumption of guilt before proof, has been passed where Muslims continue to be discriminated and stigmatised and labelled as 'extremists', ‘fanatics', and 'terrorists'. During the Gulf War hundreds of Muslims were detained as possible ‘terrorists' and were denounced as a ‘Fifth Column'.
With the media onslaught against Muslims and Islam becoming a regular occurrence, there have also been attacks from prominent personalities such as Denis MacShane, Foreign Office Minister, who called on Muslims to choose between the "British way" and the "way of the terrorists" and most recently, Lord Carey the former Archbishop of Canterbury who attacked Islam for being "undemocratic and authoritarian" and painted a stark picture of Islam as a religion stuck in the Middle Ages. This is no different to the challenge set by George W. Bush when he said that you are either with us or with the ‘terrorists'.
Muslims living in Britain have responded to the challenges of living in a secular western society in a number of ways. There has been a trend among some Muslims for greater secularisation and integration in the British society, though many have become firmer in their belief in Islam, particularly, the youth. Not only is there a challenge for Muslims to hold on to their belief in a society that continues to undermine Islam but there is a challenge for the British and western governments in trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslims by pushing for integration and the secularisation of Islam. As there is an increase in the number of younger generation Muslims practising Islam and calling for the world wide unity of Muslims, western governments and the media have embarked on a campaign in labelling those Muslims who hold the concept of an Ummah, call for the unity of Muslims and a return of political Islam as being ‘radicals', ‘extremists' or ‘terrorists' and those who advocate further participation of Muslims in British society and call for integration, as being 'moderates'. The aim of the campaign is to push the Muslim community into a more ‘moderate' position and to call for a reassessment or secularisation of Islam. In other words, Islam is seen as just another religion, de-politicised, like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or Sikhism.
This can be clearly highlighted in a statement regarding Muslim youth made in an article for Prospect Magazine in October 2002; "At the same time, too many within the younger generation appear to show an unwillingness to integrate into mainstream British society. Together with Muslim leaders, we must do more to counter the influence of fundamentalists over disenchanted Muslim youth. Democrats can never accept that religious injunctions take precedence over temporal laws. As Muslims and their European counterparts become more and more integrated into the fabric of our democracies, we may over time see the emergence of a distinctly European Islam".
The Economist (05.04.04) further highlighted the thinking amongst western governments in the quest to integrate Muslims in secular societies. "As Europe's governments step up their efforts to root out Islamic extremists-and attitudes, both Christian and Muslim, shift accordingly-most people think the future holds one of to possibilities: either the continents 12m or so Muslims will integrate smoothly into their countries' economic and political life; or they will remain on the margins, disaffected and potentially dangerous."
The introduction of Citizenship Studies in schools can be seen as a practical step in the campaign to integrate Muslims in British society. Its aim is to dilute Muslim children's understanding of Islam and build their adherence to secular thought, values and systems that are contrary to Islam. Topics that the children will study include diversity, democracy, freedom of individual and the role of the United Nations. This means excepting homosexuality, diluting the concept that the legislator and the law-giver is Allah (swt), that the individual has a right to accept or reject Islam and that the United Nations is an organisation representing International law and is the arbitrator of disputes.
A further example of the drive for integration and secularisation of Islam can be seen in the publication of a report on Muslims in Britain - ‘The Situation of Muslims in the UK', published by the Open Society Institute (OSI), which provides recommendations that will serve as a bench-mark to measure institutional change, not just within government to accommodate the needs of Muslims, but within community bodies and mosques as well. This means checking and bench-marking what is taught in Mosques and ensuring that Muslim institutes and organisations adhere to recommendations put forward by the government. The Commission for Racial Equality is already suggesting withholding grants for ethnic minority projects that fail to promote "Britishness" and integration.
The campaign to dilute the understanding of Islam from being a social-political belief to mere individualistic set of rituals through the process of integration can also be seen to be pushed by other western governments. In America, a neo-conservative and a close associate of President Bush, Daniel Pipes, is currently seeking funding for a new organisation, attentively named the "Islamic Progress Institute" (IPS), which "can articulate a moderate, modern and pro-American viewpoint", and can "go head-to-head with the established Islamic institutions."
Muslims living in the west, should be constantly aware of the agenda of integration from governments, institutions such as schools and colleges as well as the media. The continuous hounding and discrimination of Muslims in Britain and western societies will continue and it is important that the Muslims have a clear agenda in the way they aught to deal with the current situation. The correct stance will help to focus the Muslim community in the way it plans for the future.
We are all aware that Islam provides the only solution to the western capitalist way of life, where interest dictates the actions and behaviour of individuals and western states. The push to secularise Islam and the war on terrorism is no more then trying to seek long term interests and western hegemony over the Islamic lands and Muslims. It is important that we in the west try to present Islam as a comprehensive ideology, which requires all of us to be strong and dedicated as ambassadors for Islam. It means contacting western thinkers, intellectuals and influentials and also Muslims and explaining the ideas of Islamic politics, economics and other systems of Islam. Currently the media is trying to portray the Muslim youth and those engaged in dawah as being emotional and determined in destroying the west and the kuffar. The dialogue should be intelligent, intellectual and not tainted with emotions in explaining Islam and its systems as an alternative to the western ideology. We need to show others that Muslims in Britain can live honourably with the wider society and are a source of inspiration, but this should not be at the expense of leaving our values and identity and accepting integration, which aims to replace our values and replacing them with concepts of democracy, freedom of the individual, freedom of religion and ownership. We need to hold on to the values that legislation and the rule of law is from Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala), that we are bound by His commands and prohibitions and that we are part of a global Ummah.
Living in our communities does not mean isolating ourselves from the rest of the society hoping that the situation of Muslims will be resolved some how. It also does not mean that we should be blinded with the comfort of living in the west and thinking that the current plight of Muslims has nothing to do with us as we are living in Britain and that the occupation of Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir and the daily killing of Muslims world wide are a distant reality. This should not mean that we are tempted towards integration, where western values and thoughts become our values and thoughts and we become moulded within western societies and are divorced from the global Ummah and forget our role as witnesses to mankind. The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wasallam) said; "The Muslims are like one body, when one of its limbs hurts the entire body responds to that part with sleeplessness and fever"
The real long term solution for the Muslims in Britain and the west is to utilise the expertise, skills and experiences of Muslims with the aim of assisting those in Islamic lands towards replacing the current corrupt oppressive governments with the Islamic political entity. To carry out this noble task we need to be dedicated as our belief will constantly be challenged and sometimes sacrifice for our Deen is and will be required.
وأنِ احكمْ بينهم بما أنزل الله ولا تتبع أهواءهم وأحذرهم أن يفتنوك عن بعض ما أنزل الله إليك
"And rule between them by that which Allah revealed to you and do not follow their whims, and beware (be on the alert) that they may deviate you away from even some part of what Allah revealed to you". [TMQ 5:49]
10 Rabi al-Awwal 1425 Hijri
29 April 2004
The anger over the assassination of the Shaykh and Mujahid should be expressed in the form of serious and sincere work to incite the Muslim armies to march towards Palestine to help its people, and not leave them in the battlefield to fight the army of the enemy alone. It should be expressed in the form of serious and sincere work to establish the Khilafah state, which will openly fight the Jews in Palestine in the name of Allah, and with the blessing of Allah, and continue until the Jewish entity is destroyed and the whole of Palestine is returned back to the lands of Islam.
It should be expressed in the form of sincere work to bury the negotiations with the Jews who have occupied Palestine, and to kill the possibility of any peaceful relationship with them. Finally, it would be expressed by preventing the bargaining of the pure blood of the Shaykh and Mujahid, from whatever direction, for a peaceful solution in any piece of territory whilst the Jewish entity still continues to exist.
Hasn't the time come for the Muslim armies to mobilise and destroy the Jewish entity?
On Monday 22nd March 2004 (Safar 1425 AH) at Fajr time the troops of the criminal Sharon
Hizb ut Tahrir Mission Statement
aron, carried out the cowardly
||The Aim of Hizb ut-Tahrir|
Is aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da'wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shari'ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State... [full article]
||The Work of Hizb ut-Tahrir|
The work of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to carry the Islamic da'wah in order to change the situation of the corrupt society so that it is transformed into an Islamic society. It aims to do this by firstly changing the society's existing thoughts to Islamic thoughts so that such thoughts become the public opinion among the people, who are then driven to implement and act upon them... [full article]
||Adoption in Hizb ut-Tahrir|
After study, thought and investigation about the current situation of the Ummah and about what state it had reached, and the situation at the time of the Messenger of Allah (saw), and the time of the four Khulafa'a ar-Rashidun and the time of those who followed them, and referring to the seerah and the method by which he (saw) had carried the da'wah from the moment he had started until he had established the State in Madinah... [full article]
||The Thought of Hizb ut-Tahrir|
From this idea the Party has adopted the amount which it needs as a political party that is working to bring Islam into society i.e. to embody Islam in ruling, relationships and the various affairs of life. The Party has explained everything it has adopted in detail in its books and leaflets which it has published, together with detailed evidences for every rule, opinion, thought and every concept.... [full article]
||Membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir|
The Party accepts Muslim men and women as its members regardless of whether they are Arab or non-Arab, white or coloured, since it is a party for all Muslims. It invites all Muslims to carry Islam and adopt its systems regardless of their nationalities, colours and madhahib (Schools of Thought), as it looks to all of them according to the viewpoint of Islam... [full article]
Hizb ut Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun banned from UK campuses because of recruitment for Jihad and urging the murder of Jews.Hizb ut Tahrir is associated with the 9/11 hijackers.
Muslim student group linked to terrorist attacks
Lee Elliot Major
Wednesday September 19, 2001
As several UK university campuses are on alert to guard against extremist Muslim groups, possible connections with the Hamburg students involved in US terrorist attacks are emerging.
Student leaders warned this week that several campuses are being targeted by the Al-Muhajiroun, which aims to create an Islam state in the UK, at this year's freshers' fairs. The group also attracts many A-level students, often as young as 16, who can be sent to military training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Material published on the website of the Al-Muhajiroun - which translates as "the emigrants" - says: "The final hour will not come until the Muslims conquer the whitehouse". Another leaflet says: "As America declares war on 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, what is your duty?"
Police were called when Al-Muhajiroun members set up a stall during Manchester University's freshers' fair, but no arrests were made this week. However, Al-Muhajiroun is understood to be targeting universities and colleges in London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Derby, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham. In the past, the group has also turned up at student events at Oxford and Cambridge universities.
According to one government source, the group is organising meetings on at least a weekly basis on university campuses throughout the country, attracting a significant number of sympathisers. MI5 has set up a unit to monitor the activities of young British Muslims targeted by the extremists.
Al-Muhajiroun's leader, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, has praised the terrorist attacks against the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Other leading figures have claimed that around 1,800 British Muslims take part in "military service" each year, recruited at mosques and university campuses across the country. But security sources have estimated that the organisation recruits hundreds, not thousands, of young Muslim men into its ranks each year.
Some student unions have also banned Hamas, the radical Palestinian organisation fighting the Israelis on the West Bank.
The Al-Muhajiroun was formed in 1996 as breakaway group of the Hizb ut Tahrir, itself a militant Muslim organisation banned from UK universities. The Al-Muhajiroun attracted Hizb at-Tahrir's more radical college and university-based supporters. Hizb ut Tahrir is understood to operate through underground cells in several countries and is coordinated from headquarters in Hamburg.
German government officials are currently investigating the backgrounds of three students suspected of being suicide hijackers involved in last week's US terrorist attacks. Two studied at Hamburg's Technical University, while another completed a course at the University of Bonn.
Hamburg university's chancellor has said that the two Islamic societies based at the university have never drawn attention through political activities.
However, the three suspects, known to investigators are Ziad Jarrah, Marwan al-Shehhi and Mohammed Atta, are thought to have formed a cell in Hamburg to plan the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
Jarrah, 26, who was aboard the United Airlines plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, was a student at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg where he studied aeronautical engineering. Al-Shehhi, 23, identified by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation as a hijacker on the United Airlines plane that hit the south tower of the World Trade Centre, studied in a German-language programme at the University of Bonn under the name Marwan Lekrab. Atta, 33, who the FBI said was on the first plane to hit the World Trade Centre was an architect and has been described as a 'model student' at Hamburg's Technical University.
The university has examined a list of further terrorist suspects provided by the FBI and found seven of them on the university's database, four of them currently enrolled.
It is thought that the Al-Muhajiroun sends young Muslim men from Britain to "holy war" training camps, including those run by Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect wanted in connection with the US terrorist attacks.
The military camps are normally run by Muslim soldiers who have defected from their national armies. They train the recruits as well as providing them with free food and board. The route the recruits take to the military camps from countries like Britain are complicated, full of stops and changes to prevent authorities from tracing them.
The camps are situated in remote areas of Pakistan, often in the mountainous areas near the Afghan border.
Afterwards, some recruits volunteer for active service in regions like Kosovo, Chechnya and Kashmir, while others return to Britain to help recruit others to the cause.
Earlier this year Russian officials called on Britain to ban the organisation under the Terrorism Act. They claimed that "mercenaries" from the London School of Economics had been recruited to fight in Chechnya in a "holy war" against the Russian army in the Caucasus.
In January, a young British suicide bomber who was associated with Al-Muhajiroun blew up an Indian army barracks. He was identified as a pupil studying for his A-levels at a sixth-form college.
At the beginning of the last academic year, Al-Muhajiroun was attacked for putting up inflammatory posters on university campuses. The posters said: "The last hour will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill the Jews."
In 1999 three students from Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, withdrew from their studies to train abroad for military action.
Hizb Ut Tahrir linked to recent attacks in Uzbekistan
Militants Seize Hostages in Uzbekistan
The Las Vegas Sun ^ | March 31, 2004 at 9:46:00 PST | BURT HERMAN
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (AP) -
Militants seized hostages during a standoff with authorities after setting off a grenade when police tried to enter the house in Uzbekistan's capital Wednesday. A television station reported three wounded in the latest wave of terrorist-related violence in this Central Asian nation.
The Tashkent blast came at the end of a day when police scoured the capital in pursuit of fugitive militants, and reportedly arrested at least 30. A police official said those in custody so far were adherents of the strict Wahhabi Islamic sect, which was believed to have inspired Osama bin Laden, not members of an extremist group President Islam Karimov has implied were behind the attacks.
A grenade that was set up as a booby trap detonated when a police patrol tried to enter the gate of a house in Tashkent, leading to a standoff in which militants took hostages, a police major at the scene said.
Russia's Channel One television reported three people were wounded in the blast in the Sabir-Rakhimovski district of Tashkent, about half a mile from the Chorsu bazaar, where suicide attackers struck Monday.
Authorities were negotiating with the hostage-takers in the house, the police major said.
Ilya Pyagay, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry's anti-terrorism department, said police were carrying out an anti-terrorist operation in that neighborhood.
The area is not far from the scene of fighting Tuesday that officials said left 23 people dead, including three police officers.
Police blocked off streets in the Sabir-Rakhimovski district. Four trucks packed with soldiers arrived in the area and pushed back onlookers and establish a cordon around the area. The soldiers, wearing flak jackets and helmets, were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
An Associated Press reporter saw police escorting three women wearing kerchiefs into a police car. Later two buses carrying people who appeared to be civilians left the area under police escort - apparently part of an evacuation - as residents of the neighborhood of small single-family homes stood outside the cordon trying to find out what had happened.
Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency earlier reported a blast also struck a residential building in the Fergana Valley city of Andijan overnight, citing police sources. The explosion could have been an accident, but police did not rule out terrorism. Officials declined to confirm the report.
Since Sunday, at least 42 people have been killed in terrorist-related violence in Uzbekistan - the first unrest here since this Central Asian nation became a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.
Oleg Bichenov, Tashkent city police anti-terrorism deputy chief, declined to confirm how many had been arrested so far.
"The number (of the arrested) will be changing, and I hope it will be going up," he told The Associated Press. "We are continuing to search for suspects and making arrests."
Earlier, a Western security official in Tashkent told AP on condition of anonymity that police and security officers were looking for five suspects.
Nineteen people were killed and 26 wounded on Sunday and Monday in violence that included the first suicide bombings in this Central Asian nation. On Tuesday, 23 people died as Uzbek forces battled for hours with suspected terrorists, and were struck by two suicide attacks.
All the attacks appeared to target Uzbek authorities.
The Friendship Bridge linking Uzbekistan to Afghanistan - where access already is strictly controlled - had been closed to all except diplomatic traffic, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent said.
An embassy annex office remained closed, although visa operations resumed. Americans were urged to be on "highest alert," as the situation remained unclear.
Bichenov said those in custody were being questioned at length - but that interrogations so far found that none was a member of the Hizb ut-Tahrir extremist group. Instead, he said the suspects were aligned with the Wahhabi sect of Islam.
On Monday, Kadyrov said religious literature from Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Wahhabi sect had been found at an alleged terrorist bomb-making factory in the central region of Bukhara.
Hizb ut-Tahrir - which claims to disavow violence while not explicitly ruling it out in its quest to create an Islamic state across the world - has never been linked to any terrorist attacks. Its office in Britain, where the group is allowed to operate openly, denied responsibility for events in Uzbekistan.
Uzbek authorities claim Hizb ut-Tahrir is a breeding ground for terrorists and have sought unsuccessfully to have Washington label it a terrorist group.
The Wahhabi sect is dominant in Saudi Arabia and has attracted many followers across Central Asia and the Caucasus.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States had no information on who was responsible for the attacks but noted the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has been the dominant threat in the country.
That terror group was believed to have been decimated in the U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan, and Pakistani forces this month hunting al-Qaida fugitives on the Afghan border said they wounded the IMU's political leader.
Security remained tighter than usual Wednesday in Tashkent, with soldiers and police searching vehicles at checkpoints. An armored personnel carrier also remained in place on the road leading out of the city toward Karimov's official residence, near the area of suicide bombings and battles between authorities and suspected militants.
Residents near the area of Tuesday's fighting said five men escaped, although it wasn't clear if some of them had been killed at another charred house nearby pockmarked with bullet holes, where residents saw four bodies in the courtyard.
The Interior Ministry said the fighting Tuesday killed three police and wounded five. It said 20 terror suspects died and that all of them blew themselves up, but that contradicted accounts that government forces killed some of the militants in shootouts.
Article about USIP study
Terrorist groups still active on the Internet
WASHINGTON: There are hundreds of sites on the Internet serving terrorist groups and their supporters, according to a study done by the US Institute of Peace (USIP).
The study undertaken by Gabriel Weimann, a professor at the Haifa University in Israel and currently a senior fellow at USIP, writes that today all active terrorist groups have established their presence on the Internet. He describes it as a "dynamic phenomenon" as websites suddenly emerge, frequently modify their formats and then swiftly disappear. In many cases, they disappear by changing their online address but retaining much the same content. Terrorist websites target current and potential supporters, international public opinion and those whom they consider their enemies. There are eight different in which today's terrorists use the Internet, ranging from psychological warfare and propaganda to highly instrumental uses such as fund-raising, recruitment, date mining and coordination of given actions.
Prof. Weimann writes, "While we must better defend our societies against cyber-terrorism and Internet-savvy terrorists, we should also consider the costs of applying counterterrorism measures to the Internet. Such measures can hand authoritarian governments and agencies with little public accountability tools with which to violate privacy, curtail the free flow of information and restrict freedom of expression, thus adding a heavy price in terms of diminished civil liberties to the high toll exacted by terrorism itself."
Prof. Weimann points out that by its very nature, the Internet is an ideal arena for activity by terrorist organisations since it offers easy access, little or no regulation, censorship or government control, potentially huge audiences around the world, anonymity of communication, fast flow of information, inexpensive development and maintenance of web presence, a multimedia environment and the ability to shape coverage in the traditional mass media which increasingly uses the Internet as a source for news stories.
A survey undertaken for the study showed that the Internet is used by groups of all description and persuasions, from Marxist to Islamist to racist to anarchist. From the Middle East, the groups that are present on the web include Hamas, the Lebanese Hizbollah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the Fatah Tanzim, the Kahane Lives Movement, the People's Mujahideen of Iran, the Kurdish Workers' Party and the Great East Islamic Raiders Front. From Europe, there are the Basque ETA Movement, Armata Corsa (a Corsican group) and the IRA. From Asia, the study found the following groups active, among others: al Qaeda, the Japanese Supreme Truth, the Ansar al Islam in Iraq, the Japanese Red Army, the Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front of the Philippines and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The study found that nationalist and separatist organisations generally display maps of the areas in dispute but most of them do not feature their violent activities. Even if they expound at length on the moral and legal basis of the legitimacy of the use of violence, most sites refrain from referring to the terrorists' violent actions or their fatal consequences. Two exceptions to this are Hamas and Hezbollah whose sites feature updated statistical reports of their actions, including daily operations and tallies of both their own dead and those of the enemy.
According to Prof. Weimann, al Qaeda combines multimedia propaganda and advanced communication technologies to create a very sophisticated form of psychological warfare. Osama bin Laden and his followers concentrate their propaganda efforts on the Internet, where visitors to al Qaeda's numerous websites and to the sites of sympathetic, above-ground organisations can access prerecorded videotapes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, photographs, and announcements. Despite the massive onslaught al Qaeda has sustained in recent years, it has been able to conduct an "impressive scare campaign." Since 9/11 al Qaeda has "festooned" its websites with a string of announcements of an impending "large attack" on US targets. It has consistently claimed on its websites that the destruction of the World Trade Centre has inflicted psychological damage, as well as concrete damage, on the US economy. Parallels are drawn with the decline and ultimate demise of the Soviet Union. One of Osama bin Laden's recent publications posted on the web, declared that "America is in retreat by the Grace of Almighty and economic attrition is continuing up to today, but it needs further blows. The young men need to seek out the nodes of the American economy and strike the enemy's nodes."
The report notes that the Sunni terrorist group Hizb al-Tahrir (which has a formal presence in Pakistan) uses an integrated web of Internet sties, stretching from Europe to Africa, which asks supporters to assist the effort by giving money and encouraging others to donate to the cause of jihad. Banking information, including the numbers of accounts into which donations can be deposited, is provided on a site based in Germany. The fighters in Chechnya have also used the Internet to publicise the numbers of bank accounts to which sympathizers can contribute. One of the bank accounts is located in Sacramento, California. The IRA accepts credit card donations.
The study found that many terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, have undergone a transformation from strictly hierarchical organisations and designated leaders to affiliations of semi-independent cells that have no single commanding hierarchy. Through the use of the Internet, these loosely interconnected groups are able to maintain contact with one another, and with members of other groups. In the future, terrorists are increasingly likely to be organised in a more decentralised manner, enabling dispersed organisational actors to communicate swiftly and to coordinate effectively. Dozens of sites exist that express support for terrorism conducted in the name of jihad. These sites and related forums permit terrorists in places such as Chechnya, Palestine, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq, Malaysia and the Philippines to exchange not only ideas and suggestions but also practical information about how to build bombs, establish terror cells and carry out attacks. —Khalid Hasan
SPECIAL REPORT 116
How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet
This al Qaeda website image claims responsibility for attacks in Kenya and the United States.
- The great virtues of the Internet—ease of access, lack of regulation, vast potential audiences, and fast flow of information, among others—have been turned to the advantage of groups committed to terrorizing societies to achieve their goals.
- Today, all active terrorist groups have established their presence on the Internet. Our scan of the Internet in 2003–4 revealed hundreds of websites serving terrorists and their supporters.
- Terrorism on the Internet is a very dynamic phenomenon: websites suddenly emerge, frequently modify their formats, and then swiftly disappear—or, in many cases, seem to disappear by changing their online address but retaining much the same content.
- Terrorist websites target three different audiences: current and potential supporters; international public opinion; and enemy publics.
- The mass media, policymakers, and even security agencies have tended to focus on the exaggerated threat of cyberterrorism and paid insufficient attention to the more routine uses made of the Internet. Those uses are numerous and, from the terrorists' perspective, invaluable.
- There are eight different ways in which contemporary terrorists use the Internet, ranging from psychological warfare and propaganda to highly instrumental uses such as fundraising, recruitment, data mining, and coordination of actions.
- While we must better defend our societies against cyberterrorism and Internet-savvy terrorists, we should also consider the costs of applying counterterrorism measures to the Internet. Such measures can hand authoritarian governments and agencies with little public accountability tools with which to violate privacy, curtail the free flow of information, and restrict freedom of expression, thus adding a heavy price in terms of diminished civil liberties to the high toll exacted by terrorism itself.
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The story of the presence of terrorist groups in cyberspace has barely begun to be told. In 1998, around half of the thirty organizations designated as "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" under the U.S. Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 maintained websites; by 2000, virtually all terrorist groups had established their presence on the Internet. Our scan of the Internet in 2003–4 revealed hundreds of websites serving terrorists and their supporters. And yet, despite this growing terrorist presence, when policymakers, journalists, and academics have discussed the combination of terrorism and the Internet, they have focused on the overrated threat posed by cyberterrorism or cyberwarfare (i.e., attacks on computer networks, including those on the Internet) and largely ignored the numerous uses that terrorists make of the Internet every day.
In this report we turn the spotlight on these latter activities, identifying, analyzing, and illustrating ways in which terrorist organizations are exploiting the unique attributes of the Internet. The material presented here is drawn from an ongoing study (now in its sixth year) of the phenomenon, during which we have witnessed a growing and increasingly sophisticated terrorist presence on the World Wide Web. Terrorism on the Internet, as we have discovered, is a very dynamic phenomenon: websites suddenly emerge, frequently modify their formats, and then swiftly disappear—or, in many cases, seem to disappear by changing their online address but retaining much the same content. To locate the terrorists' sites, we have conducted numerous systematic scans of the Internet, feeding an enormous variety of names and terms into search engines, entering chat rooms and forums of supporters and sympathizers, and surveying the links on other organizations' websites to create and update our own lists of sites. This is often a herculean effort, especially because in some cases (e.g., al Qaeda's websites) locations and contents change almost daily.
The report begins by sketching the origins of the Internet, the characteristics of the new medium that make it so attractive to political extremists, the range of terrorist organizations active in cyberspace, and their target audiences. The heart of the report is an analysis of eight different uses that terrorists make of the Internet. These range from conducting psychological warfare to gathering information, from training to fundraising, from propagandizing to recruiting, and from networking to planning and coordinating terrorist acts. In each instance, we offer concrete examples drawn from our own research, from cases reported in the media, and from contacts with Western intelligence organizations. Although the bulk of the report amounts to a strong argument for the political, intelligence, and academic communities to pay much more attention to the dangers posed by terrorists' use of the Internet, the report concludes with a plea to those same communities not to overreact. The Internet may be attractive to political extremists, but it also symbolizes and supports the freedom of thought and expression that helps distinguish democracies from their enemies. Effective counterterrorist campaigns do not require, and may be undermined by, draconian measures to restrict Internet access.
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Modern Terrorism and the Internet
Paradoxically, the very decentralized network of communication that the U.S. security services created out of fear of the Soviet Union now serves the interests of the greatest foe of the West's security services since the end of the Cold War: international terror. The roots of the modern Internet are to be found in the early 1970s, during the days of the Cold War, when the U.S. Department of Defense was concerned about reducing the vulnerability of its communication networks to nuclear attack. The Defense Department decided to decentralize the whole system by creating an interconnected web of computer networks. After twenty years of development and use by academic researchers, the Internet quickly expanded and changed its character when it was opened up to commercial users in the late 1980s. By the mid-1990s, the Internet connected more than 18,000 private, public, and national networks, with the number increasing daily. Hooked into those networks were about 3.2 million host computers and perhaps as many as 60 million users spread across all seven continents. The estimated number of users in the early years of the twenty-first century is over a billion.
As it burgeoned, the Internet was hailed as an integrator of cultures and a medium for businesses, consumers, and governments to communicate with one another. It appeared to offer unparalleled opportunities for the creation of a forum in which the "global village" could meet and exchange ideas, stimulating and sustaining democracy throughout the world. However, with the enormous growth in the size and use of the network, utopian visions of the promise of the Internet were challenged by the proliferation of pornographic and violent content on the web and by the use of the Internet by extremist organizations of various kinds. Groups with very different political goals but united in their readiness to employ terrorist tactics started using the network to distribute their propaganda, to communicate with their supporters, to foster public awareness of and sympathy for their causes, and even to execute operations.
By its very nature, the Internet is in many ways an ideal arena for activity by terrorist organizations. Most notably, it offers
- easy access;
- little or no regulation, censorship, or other forms of government control;
- potentially huge audiences spread throughout the world;
- anonymity of communication;
- fast flow of information;
- inexpensive development and maintenance of a web presence;
- a multimedia environment (the ability to combine text, graphics, audio, and video and to allow users to download films, songs, books, posters, and so forth); and
- the ability to shape coverage in the traditional mass media, which increasingly use the Internet as a source for stories.
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An Overview of Terrorist Websites
These advantages have not gone unnoticed by terrorist organizations, no matter what their political orientation. Islamists and Marxists, nationalists and separatists, racists and anarchists: all find the Internet alluring. Today, almost all active terrorist organizations (which number more than forty) maintain websites, and many maintain more than one website and use several different languages.
As the following illustrative list shows, these organizations and groups come from all corners of the globe. (This geographical categorization, it should be noted, reveals the geographical diversity but obscures the fact that many groups are truly transnational, and even transregional, in character.)
- From the Middle East, Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement), the Lebanese Hezbollah (Party of God), the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah Tanzim, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Kahane Lives movement, the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI—Mujahedin-e Khalq), the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), and the Turkish-based Popular Democratic Liberation Front Party (DHKP/C) and Great East Islamic Raiders Front (IBDA-C).
- From Europe, the Basque ETA movement, Armata Corsa (the Corsican Army), and the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
- From Latin America, Peru's Tupak-Amaru (MRTA) and Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN-Colombia), and the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).
- From Asia, al Qaeda, the Japanese Supreme Truth (Aum Shinrikyo), Ansar al Islam (Supporters of Islam) in Iraq, the Japanese Red Army (JRA), Hizb-ul Mujehideen in Kashmir, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the rebel movement in Chechnya.
What is the content of terrorist sites? Typically, a site will provide a history of the organization and its activities, a detailed review of its social and political background, accounts of its notable exploits, biographies of its leaders, founders, and heroes, information on its political and ideological aims, fierce criticism of its enemies, and up-to-date news. Nationalist and separatist organizations generally display maps of the areas in dispute: the Hamas site shows a map of Palestine, the FARC site shows a map of Colombia, the LTTE site presents a map of Sri Lanka, and so forth. Despite the ever-present vocabulary of "the armed struggle" and "resistance," what most sides do not feature is a detailed description of their violent activities. Even if they expound at length on the moral and legal basis of the legitimacy of the use of violence, most sites refrain from referring to the terrorists' violent actions or their fatal consequences—this reticence is presumably inspired by propagandist and image-building considerations. Two exceptions to this rule are Hezbollah and Hamas, whose sites feature updated statistical reports of their actions ("daily operations") and tallies of both "dead martyrs" and "Israeli enemies" and "collaborators" killed.
Whom do the Internet terrorists target at their sites? An analysis of the content of the websites suggests three different audiences.
- Current and potential supporters. Terrorist websites make heavy use of slogans and offer items for sale, including T-shirts, badges, flags, and videotapes and audiocassettes, all evidently aimed at sympathizers. Often, an organization will target its local supporters with a site in the local language and will provide detailed information about the activities and internal politics of the organization, its allies, and its competitors.
- International public opinion. The international public, who are not directly involved in the conflict but who may have some interest in the issues involved, are courted with sites in languages other than the local tongue. Most sites offer versions in several languages. ETA's site, for instance, offers information in Castilian, German, French, and Italian; the MRTA site offers Japanese and Italian in addition to its English and Spanish versions; and the IMU site uses Arabic, English, and Russian. For the benefit of their international audiences, the sites present basic information about the organization and extensive historical background material (material with which the organization's supporters are presumably already familiar).
Judging from the content of many of the sites, it appears that foreign journalists are also targeted. Press releases are often placed on the websites in an effort to get the organization's point of view into the traditional media. The detailed background information is also very useful for international reporters. One of Hezbollah's sites specifically addresses journalists, inviting them to interact with the organization's press office via-email.
- Enemy publics. Efforts to reach enemy publics (i.e., citizens of the states against which the terrorists are fighting) are not as clearly apparent from the content of many sites. However, some sites do seem to make an effort to demoralize the enemy by threatening attacks and by fostering feelings of guilt about the enemy's conduct and motives. In the process, they also seek to stimulate public debate in their enemies' states, to change public opinion, and to weaken public support for the governing regime.
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How Terrorists Use the Internet
We have identified eight different, albeit sometimes overlapping, ways in which contemporary terrorists use the Internet. Some of these parallel the uses to which everyone puts the Internet—information gathering, for instance. Some resemble the uses made of the medium by traditional political organizations—for example, raising funds and disseminating propaganda. Others, however, are much more unusual and distinctive—for instance, hiding instructions, manuals, and directions in coded messages or encrypted files.
Terrorism has often been conceptualized as a form of psychological warfare, and certainly terrorists have sought to wage such a campaign through the Internet. There are several ways for terrorists to do so. For instance, they can use the Internet to spread disinformation, to deliver threats intended to distill fear and helplessness, and to disseminate horrific images of recent actions, such as the brutal murder of the American journalist Daniel Pearl by his captors, a videotape of which was replayed on several terrorist websites. Terrorists can also launch psychological attacks through cyberterrorism, or, more accurately, through creating the fear of cyberterrorism. "Cyberfear" is generated when concern about what a computer attack could do (for example, bringing down airliners by disabling air traffic control systems, or disrupting national economies by wrecking the computerized systems that regulate stock markets) is amplified until the public believes that an attack will happen. The Internet—an uncensored medium that carries stories, pictures, threats, or messages regardless of their validity or potential impact—is peculiarly well suited to allowing even a small group to amplify its message and exaggerate its importance and the threat it poses.
Al Qaeda combines multimedia propaganda and advanced communication technologies to create a very sophisticated form of psychological warfare. Osama bin Laden and his followers concentrate their propaganda efforts on the Internet, where visitors to al Qaeda's numerous websites and to the sites of sympathetic, aboveground organizations can access prerecorded videotapes and audiotapes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, photographs, and announcements. Despite the massive onslaught it has sustained in recent years—the arrests and deaths of many of its members, the dismantling of its operational bases and training camps in Afghanistan, and the smashing of its bases in the Far East—al Qaeda has been able to conduct an impressive scare campaign. Since September 11, 2001, the organization has festooned its websites with a string of announcements of an impending "large attack" on U.S. targets. These warnings have received considerable media coverage, which has helped to generate a widespread sense of dread and insecurity among audiences throughout the world and especially within the United States.
Interestingly, al Qaeda has consistently claimed on its websites that the destruction of the World Trade Center has inflicted psychological damage, as well as concrete damage, on the U.S. economy. The attacks on the Twin Towers are depicted as an assault on the trademark of the U.S. economy, and evidence of their effectiveness is seen in the weakening of the dollar, the decline of the U.S. stock market after 9/11, and a supposed loss of confidence in the U. S. economy both within the United States and elsewhere. Parallels are drawn with the decline and ultimate demise of the Soviet Union. One of bin Laden's recent publications, posted on the web, declared that "America is in retreat by the Grace of Almighty and economic attrition is continuing up to today. But it needs further blows. The young men need to seek out the nodes of the American economy and strike the enemy's nodes."
Publicity and Propaganda
The Internet has significantly expanded the opportunities for terrorists to secure publicity. Until the advent of the Internet, terrorists' hopes of winning publicity for their causes and activities depended on attracting the attention of television, radio, or the print media. These traditional media have "selection thresholds" (multistage processes of editorial selection) that terrorists often cannot reach. No such thresholds, of course, exist on the terrorists' own websites. The fact that many terrorists now have direct control over the content of their message offers further opportunities to shape how they are perceived by different target audiences and to manipulate their own image and the image of their enemies.
As noted earlier, most terrorist sites do not celebrate their violent activities. Instead, regardless of the terrorists' agendas, motives, and location, most sites emphasize two issues: the restrictions placed on freedom of expression and the plight of comrades who are now political prisoners. These issues resonate powerfully with their own supporters and are also calculated to elicit sympathy from Western audiences that cherish freedom of expression and frown on measures to silence political opposition. Enemy publics, too, may be targets for these complaints insofar as the terrorists, by emphasizing the antidemocratic nature of the steps taken against them, try to create feelings of unease and shame among their foes. The terrorists' protest at being muzzled, it may be noted, is particularly well suited to the Internet, which for many users is the symbol of free, unfettered, and uncensored communication.
Terrorist sites commonly employ three rhetorical structures, all used to justify their reliance on violence. The first one is the claim that the terrorists have no choice other than to turn to violence. Violence is presented as a necessity foisted upon the weak as the only means with which to respond to an oppressive enemy. While the sites avoid mentioning how the terrorists victimize others, the forceful actions of the governments and regimes that combat the terrorists are heavily emphasized and characterized with terms such as "slaughter," "murder," and "genocide." The terrorist organization is depicted as constantly persecuted, its leaders subject to assassination attempts and its supporters massacred, its freedom of expression curtailed, and its adherents arrested. This tactic, which portrays the organization as small, weak, and hunted down by a strong power or a strong state, turns the terrorists into the underdog.
A second rhetorical structure related to the legitimacy of the use of violence is the demonizing and delegitimization of the enemy. The members of the movement or organization are presented as freedom fighters, forced against their will to use violence because a ruthless enemy is crushing the rights and dignity of their people or group. The enemy of the movement or the organization is the real terrorist, many sites insist: "Our violence is tiny in comparison to his aggression" is a common argument. Terrorist rhetoric tries to shift the responsibility for violence from the terrorist to the adversary, which is accused of displaying its brutality, inhumanity, and immorality.
A third rhetorical device is to make extensive use of the language of nonviolence in an attempt to counter the terrorists' violent image. Although these are violent organizations, many of their sites claim that they seek peaceful solutions, that their ultimate aim is a diplomatic settlement achieved through negotiation and international pressure on a repressive government.
The Internet may be viewed as a vast digital library. The World Wide Web alone offers about a billion pages of information, much of it free—and much of it of interest to terrorist organizations. Terrorists, for instance, can learn from the Internet a wide variety of details about targets such as transportation facilities, nuclear power plants, public buildings, airports, and ports, and even about counterterrorism measures. Dan Verton, in his book Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyberterrorism (2003), explains that "al-Qaeda cells now operate with the assistance of large databases containing details of potential targets in the U.S. They use the Internet to collect intelligence on those targets, especially critical economic nodes, and modern software enables them to study structural weaknesses in facilities as well as predict the cascading failure effect of attacking certain systems." According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking on January 15, 2003, an al Qaeda training manual recovered in Afghanistan tells its readers, "Using public sources openly and without resorting to illegal means, it is possible to gather at least 80 percent of all information required about the enemy."
The website operated by the Muslim Hackers Club (a group that U.S. security agencies believe aims to develop software tools with which to launch cyberattacks) has featured links to U.S. sites that purport to disclose sensitive information such as code names and radio frequencies used by the U.S. Secret Service. The same website offers tutorials in creating and spreading viruses, devising hacking stratagems, sabotaging networks, and developing codes; it also provides links to other militant Islamic and terrorist web addresses. Specific targets that al Qaeda-related websites have discussed include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; FedWire, the money-movement clearing system maintained by the Federal Reserve Board; and facilities controlling the flow of information over the Internet. Like many other Internet users, terrorists have access not only to maps and diagrams of potential targets but also to imaging data on those same facilities and networks that may reveal counterterrorist activities at a target site. One captured al Qaeda computer contained engineering and structural features of a dam, which had been downloaded from the Internet and which would enable al Qaeda engineers and planners to simulate catastrophic failures. In other captured computers, U.S. investigators found evidence that al Qaeda operators spent time on sites that offer software and programming instructions for the digital switches that run power, water, transportation, and communications grids. Numerous tools are available to facilitate such data collection, including search engines, e-mail distribution lists, and chat rooms and discussion groups. Many websites offer their own search tools for extracting information from databases on their sites. Word searches of online newspapers and journals can likewise generate information of use to terrorists; some of this information may also be available in the traditional media, but online searching capabilities allow terrorists to capture it anonymously and with very little effort or expense.
Like many other political organizations, terrorist groups use the Internet to raise funds. Al Qaeda, for instance, has always depended heavily on donations, and its global fund-raising network is built upon a foundation of charities, nongovernmental organizations, and other financial institutions that use websites and Internet-based chat rooms and forums. The Sunni extremist group Hizb al-Tahrir uses an integrated web of Internet sites, stretching from Europe to Africa, which asks supporters to assist the effort by giving money and encouraging others to donate to the cause of jihad. Banking information, including the numbers of accounts into which donations can be deposited, is provided on a site based in Germany. The fighters in the Russian breakaway republic of Chechnya have likewise used the Internet to publicize the numbers of bank accounts to which sympathizers can contribute. (One of these Chechen bank accounts is located in Sacramento, California.) The IRA's website contains a page on which visitors can make credit card donations.
Internet user demographics (culled, for instance, from personal information entered in online questionnaires and order forms) allow terrorists to identify users with sympathy for a particular cause or issue. These individuals are then asked to make donations, typically through e-mails sent by a front group (i.e., an organization broadly supportive of the terrorists' aims but operating publicly and legally and usually having no direct ties to the terrorist organization). For instance, money benefiting Hamas has been collected via the website of a Texas-based charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). The U.S. government seized the assets of HLF in December 2001 because of its ties to Hamas. The U.S. government has also frozen the assets of three seemingly legitimate charities that use the Internet to raise money—the Benevolence International Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Al-Haramain Foundation—because of evidence that those charities have funneled money to al Qaeda.
In another example, in January 2004, a federal grand jury in Idaho charged a Saudi graduate student with conspiring to help terrorist organizations wage jihad by using the Internet to raise funds, field recruits, and locate prospective U.S. targets—military and civilian—in the Middle East. Sami Omar Hussayen, a doctoral candidate in computer science in a University of Idaho program sponsored—ironically—by the National Security Agency, was accused of creating websites and an e-mail group that disseminated messages from him and two radical clerics in Saudi Arabia that supported jihad.
Recruitment and Mobilization
The Internet can be used not only to solicit donations from sympathizers but also to recruit and mobilize supporters to play a more active role in support of terrorist activities or causes. In addition to seeking converts by using the full panoply of website technologies (audio, digital video, etc.) to enhance the presentation of their message, terrorist organizations capture information about the users who browse their websites. Users who seem most interested in the organization's cause or well suited to carrying out its work are then contacted. Recruiters may also use more interactive Internet technology to roam online chat rooms and cybercafes, looking for receptive members of the public, particularly young people. Electronic bulletin boards and user nets (issue-specific chat rooms and bulletins) can also serve as vehicles for reaching out to potential recruits.
Some would-be recruits, it may be noted, use the Internet to advertise themselves to terrorist organizations. In 1995, as reported by Verton in Black Ice, Ziyad Khalil enrolled as a computer science major at Columbia College in Missouri. He also became a Muslim activist on the campus, developing links to several radical groups and operating a website that supported Hamas. Thanks in large part to his Internet activities, he came to the attention of bin Laden and his lieutenants. Khalil became al Qaeda's procurement officer in the United States, arranging purchases of satellite telephones, computers, and other electronic surveillance technologies and helping bin Laden communicate with his followers and officers.
More typically, however, terrorist organizations go looking for recruits rather than waiting for them to present themselves. The SITE Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based terrorism research group that monitors al Qaeda's Internet communications, has provided chilling details of a high-tech recruitment drive launched in 2003 to recruit fighters to travel to Iraq and attack U.S. and coalition forces there. Potential recruits are bombarded with religious decrees and anti-American propaganda, provided with training manuals on how to be a terrorist, and—as they are led through a maze of secret chat rooms—given specific instructions on how to make the journey to Iraq. In one particularly graphic exchange in a secret al Qaeda chat room in early September 2003 an unknown Islamic fanatic, with the user name "Redemption Is Close," writes, "Brothers, how do I go to Iraq for Jihad? Are there any army camps and is there someone who commands there?" Four days later he gets a reply from "Merciless Terrorist." "Dear Brother, the road is wide open for you—there are many groups, go look for someone you trust, join him, he will be the protector of the Iraqi regions and with the help of Allah you will become one of the Mujahidin." "Redemption Is Close" then presses for more specific information on how he can wage jihad in Iraq. "Merciless Terrorist" sends him a propaganda video and instructs him to download software called Pal Talk, which enables users to speak to each other on the Internet without fear of being monitored.
Many terrorist websites stop short of enlisting recruits for violent action but they do encourage supporters to show their commitment to the cause in other tangible ways. "How can I help the struggle: A few suggestions," runs a heading on the Kahane Lives website; "Action alert: What you can do" is a feature on the Shining Path's website. The power of the Internet to mobilize activists is illustrated by the response to the arrest of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish terrorist group the PKK. When Turkish forces arrested Ocalan, tens of thousands of Kurds around the world responded with demonstrations within a matter of hours—thanks to sympathetic websites urging supporters to protest.
Many terrorist groups, among them Hamas and al Qaeda, have undergone a transformation from strictly hierarchical organizations with designated leaders to affiliations of semi-independent cells that have no single commanding hierarchy. Through the use of the Internet, these loosely interconnected groups are able to maintain contact with one another—and with members of other terrorist groups. In the future, terrorists are increasingly likely to be organized in a more decentralized manner, with arrays of transnational groups linked by the Internet and communicating and coordinating horizontally rather than vertically.
Several reasons explain why modern communication technologies, especially computer-mediated communications, are so useful for terrorists in establishing and maintaining networks. First, new technologies have greatly reduced transmission time, enabling dispersed organizational actors to communicate swiftly and to coordinate effectively. Second, new technologies have significantly reduced the cost of communication. Third, by integrating computing with communications, they have substantially increased the variety and complexity of the information that can be shared.
The Internet connects not only members of the same terrorist organizations but also members of different groups. For instance, dozens of sites exist that express support for terrorism conducted in the name of jihad. These sites and related forums permit terrorists in places such as Chechnya, Palestine, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Lebanon to exchange not only ideas and suggestions but also practical information about how to build bombs, establish terror cells, and carry out attacks.
The World Wide Web is home to dozens of sites that provide information on how to build chemical and explosive weapons. Many of these sites post The Terrorist's Handbook and The Anarchist Cookbook, two well-known manuals that offer detailed instructions on how to construct a wide range of bombs. Another manual, The Mujahadeen Poisons Handbook, written by Abdel-Aziz in 1996 and "published" on the official Hamas website, details in twenty-three pages how to prepare various homemade poisons, poisonous gases, and other deadly materials for use in terrorist attacks. A much larger manual, nicknamed "The Encyclopedia of Jihad" and prepared by al Qaeda, runs to thousands of pages; distributed through the Internet, it offers detailed instructions on how to establish an underground organization and execute attacks. One al Qaeda laptop found in Afghanistan had been used to make multiple visits to a French site run by the Société Anonyme (a self-described "fluctuating group of artists and theoreticians who work specifically on the relations between critical thinking and artistic practices"), which offers a two-volume Sabotage Handbook with sections on topics such as planning an assassination and antisurveillance methods.
This kind of information is sought out not just by sophisticated terrorist organizations but also by disaffected individuals prepared to use terrorist tactics to advance their idiosyncratic agendas. In 1999, for instance, a young man by the name of David Copeland planted nail bombs in three different areas of London: multiracial Brixton, the largely Bangladeshi community of Brick Lane, and the gay quarter in Soho. Over the course of three weeks, he killed 3 people and injured 139. At his trial, he revealed that he had learned his deadly techniques from the Internet, downloading The Terrorist's Handbook and How to Make Bombs: Book Two. Both titles are still easily accessible. A search for the keywords "terrorist" and "handbook" on the Google search engine found nearly four thousand matches that included references to guidebooks and manuals. One site gives instructions on how to acquire ammonium nitrate, Copeland's "first choice" of explosive material. In Finland in 2002, a brilliant chemistry student who called himself "RC" discussed bomb-making techniques with other enthusiasts on a Finnish Internet website devoted to bombs and explosives. Sometimes he posted queries on topics such as manufacturing nerve gas at home. Often he traded information with the site's moderator, whose messages carried a picture of his own face superimposed on Osama bin Laden's body, complete with turban and beard. Then RC set off a bomb that killed seven people, including himself, in a crowded shopping mall. The website frequented by RC, known as the Home Chemistry Forum, was shut down by its sponsor, a computer magazine. But a backup copy was immediately posted again on a read-only basis.
Planning and Coordination
Terrorists use the Internet not only to learn how to build bombs but also to plan and coordinate specific attacks. Al Qaeda operatives relied heavily on the Internet in planning and coordinating the September 11 attacks. Thousands of encrypted messages that had been posted in a password-protected area of a website were found by federal officials on the computer of arrested al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, who reportedly masterminded the September 11 attacks. The first messages found on Zubaydah's computer were dated May 2001 and the last were sent on September 9, 2001. The frequency of the messages was highest in August 2001. To preserve their anonymity, the al Qaeda terrorists used the Internet in public places and sent messages via public e-mail. Some of the September 11 hijackers communicated using free web-based e-mail accounts.
Hamas activists in the Middle East, for example, use chat rooms to plan operations and operatives exchange e-mail to coordinate actions across Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Israel. Instructions in the form of maps, photographs, directions, and technical details of how to use explosives are often disguised by means of steganography, which involves hiding messages inside graphic files. Sometimes, however, instructions are delivered concealed in only the simplest of codes. Mohammed Atta's final message to the other eighteen terrorists who carried out the attacks of 9/11 is reported to have read: "The semester begins in three more weeks. We've obtained 19 confirmations for studies in the faculty of law, the faculty of urban planning, the faculty of fine arts, and the faculty of engineering." (The reference to the various faculties was apparently the code for the buildings targeted in the attacks.)
- alneda.com, which, until it was closed down in 2002, is said by U.S. officials to have contained encrypted information to direct al Qaeda members to more secure sites, featured international news about al Qaeda, and published a variety of articles, books, and fatwas (the latter typically declaring war on the United States, Christianity, or Judaism);
- assam.com, which served as a mouthpiece for jihad in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Palestine;
- almuhrajiroun.com, which in the late 1990s and early 2000s urged sympathizers to assassinate Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf;
- qassam.net, a site that U.S. officials claim is linked not only to al Qaeda but also to Hamas;
- jihadunspun.net, which offered a thirty-six-minute video of Osama bin Laden lecturing, preaching, and making threats;
- 7hj.7hj.com, which aimed to teach visitors how to hack into Internet networks and how to infect government and corporate websites with "worms" and viruses;
- aloswa.org, which featured quotations from bin Laden and religious legal rulings justifying the attacks of 9/11 and other assaults on the West;
- drasat.com, run (some experts suspect) by a fictional institution called the Islamic Studies and Research Center and reported to be the most credible of dozens of Islamist sites posting al Qaeda news; and
- jehad.net, alsaha.com, and islammemo.com, which are alleged to have posted al Qaeda statements as well as calls for action and directions for operatives.
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In a briefing given in late September 2001, Ronald Dick, assistant director of the FBI and head of the United States National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), told reporters that the hijackers of 9/11 had used the Internet, and "used it well." Since 9/11, terrorists have only sharpened their Internet skills and increased their web presence. Today, terrorists of very different ideological persuasions—Islamist, Marxist, nationalist, separatist, racist—have learned many of the same lessons about how to make the most of the Internet. The great virtues of the Internet—ease of access, lack of regulation, vast potential audiences, fast flow of information, and so forth—have been turned to the advantage of groups committed to terrorizing societies to achieve their goals.
How should those societies respond? This is not the place to attempt anything like a definitive answer, but two things seem clear. First, we must become better informed about the uses to which terrorists put the Internet and better able to monitor their activities. As noted at the outset of this report, journalists, scholars, policymakers, and even security agencies have tended to focus on the exaggerated threat of cyberterrorism and paid insufficient attention to the more routine uses made of the Internet. Those uses are numerous and, from the terrorists' perspective, invaluable. Hence, it is imperative that security agencies continue to improve their ability to study and monitor terrorist activities on the Internet and explore measures to limit the usability of this medium by modern terrorists.
Second, while we must thus better defend our societies against terrorism, we must not in the process erode the very qualities and values that make our societies worth defending. The Internet is in many ways an almost perfect embodiment of the democratic ideals of free speech and open communication; it is a marketplace of ideas unlike any that has existed before. Unfortunately, as this report has shown, the freedom offered by the Internet is vulnerable to abuse from groups that, paradoxically, are themselves often hostile to uncensored thought and expression. But if, fearful of further terrorist attacks, we circumscribe our own freedom to use the Internet, then we hand the terrorists a victory and deal democracy a blow. We must not forget that the fear that terrorism inflicts has in the past been manipulated by politicians to pass legislation that undermines individual rights and liberties. The use of advanced techniques to monitor, search, track, and analyze communications carries inherent dangers. Although such technologies might prove very helpful in the fight against cyberterrorism and Internet-savvy terrorists, they would also hand participating governments, especially authoritarian governments and agencies with little public accountability, tools with which to violate civil liberties domestically and abroad. It does take much imagination to recognize that the long-term implications could be profound and damaging for democracies and their values, adding a heavy price in terms of diminished civil liberties to the high toll exacted by terrorism itself.
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About the Report
Terrorists fight their wars in cyberspace as well as on the ground. However, while politicians and the media have hotly debated the dangers that cyberterrorism poses to the Internet, surprisingly little is known about the threat posed by terrorists' use of the Internet. Today, as this report makes plain, terrorist organizations and their supporters maintain hundreds of websites, exploiting the unregulated, anonymous, and easily accessible nature of the Internet to target an array of messages to a variety of audiences. Gabriel Weimann identifies no fewer than eight different ways in which terrorists are using the Internet to advance their cause, ranging from psychological warfare to recruitment, networking to fundraising. In each case, the report not only analyzes how the Internet can facilitate terrorist operations but also illustrates the point with examples culled from an extensive exploration of the World Wide Web.
Gabriel Weimann is a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and professor of communication at Haifa University, Israel. He has written widely on modern terrorism, political campaigns, and the mass media. This report distills some of the findings from an ongoing, six-year study of terrorists' use of the Internet.
The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not advocate specific policies.
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Institute Library Resources
Terrorism/Counter-Terrorism Web Links
U.S. National Security and Foreign Policy Web Links
Of Related Interest
A number of other publications from the United States Institute of Peace address issues related to terrorism and to the Internet and other forms of information technology. (See our complete list of reports.)
Recent Special Reports on Terrorism
Recent Reports from the Virtual Diplomacy Initiative
Other Related Resources Online
- Beyond the Radar Screen: Afghanistan's Civil War and the Rise of International Terrorism
A Senior Fellow Project Report by Roy Gutman (Summary & Archived Audio, June 2003)
- Transnational Organized Crime and Conflict: Strategic Implications for the Military
A Senior Fellow Project Report by Stan Tunstall. (Archived Audio, May 2002)
- The War on Terrorism a Year On
Featuring remarks by L. Paul Bremer, Brian Jenkins, and Paul Pillar. (Archived Audio & Video, September 2002)
- Terrorism on Trial
Featuring remarks by Eugene R. Fidell, David Scheffer, and others. (Archived Audio & Video, December 2001)
- Coping with Terrorism: Challenges and Responses
Featuring remarks by L. Paul Bremer, Daniel Benjamin, Jerrold Post, H. Allen Holmes, Martha Crennshaw, and others. (Archived Audio, September 2001)
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