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Saturday, July 26, 2008

TERRORISM: AL-QAEDA DRAWS NEW RECRUITS VIA INTERNET, REPORTS SAUDI ARABIA TV

Terrorism: Al-Qaeda draws new recruits via Internet; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2 July 2008 (AKI - By Hamza Boccolini) - Al-Qaeda is using the Internet to recruit vulnerable young people to its terrorist network, according to a programme aired on Saudi Arabian TV late on Tuesday.

Umm Osama, the founder of al-Qaeda's first women-only website, al-Khansa, joined several others on the programme to discuss how they renounced jihadist ideology. Among those who sought a response to this question was an imam from the Medina mosque, Saleh Ibn Awad al-Mudamsi, and the father of a young al-Qaeda suspect held in an Iraqi prison.
The programme entitled, 'Our Problems' began with an introduction from the host who said: "There are more than 5,000 jihadist Internet sites." "How can we protect around 5 million Saudi users who who use the Internet every day? How can we be sure that we won't suffer the consequences of extremists' propoganda?"

The powerful broadcast presented the testimony of Saudi 'turncoats', members of al-Qaeda forums who had been arrested by police and then renounced their allegiances after re-education. The first to speak was Abu Azzam al-Ansari, one of the editors of the jihadist magazine, Voices of Jihad, published to web users from 2004 to 2007.
"The Internet is a means open to everyone and this is its strength," he said. "I began using it because of my desire for the real news on what was happening in the world, because I was convinced that the United States was telling lies. "I began to use the Internet to research news of the mujahadeen, in Afghanistan, in Iraq," he said.

"When you are on these sites you don't know with whom you are communicating and you don't worry about it. You only think you are communicating with a person who loves Jihad."

Umma Osama, from the women's only jihadi website, al-Khansa, spoke of her experiences."I had Internet at home and I joined jihadist forums. It was there I discovered the existence of a new world, an open world. "Through these forums I got to know many people who like me were very active and fervent Islamists."

A young Saudi, Abu Omar, shared his experience. "At the beginning I went to the Internet to look for news about Jihad, then to listen to the messages of Osama Bin Laden and Abdelaziz al-Muqrin. Listening to these speeches I was taken by them."

The danger of al-Qaeda is recognised by the Saudi government which has arrested 701 jihadist suspects in the past six months. Only half of them are Saudi citizens while the rest originate from several other countries in Africa (MOROCCO) and Asia.

Of those arrested, 520 remain in prison, accused of "activities motivated by deviant ideology", an official term used by Saudi authorities to indicate links to al-Qaeda.

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