In light of the information now emerging from France, it seems the man suspected
of being behind the rampage of murder in Toulouse, Mohamed Merah, made a
decision to embark on a one-man jihad campaign close to home.
so, he acted in line with instructions that have been broadcast on the Internet
by al-Qaida ideologues over recent years.
Merah, 23, was under
surveillance by French security forces after spending time in Afghanistan and
Pakistan, and apparently trained with jihadis there, according to French
Upon his return to France, Merah accessed jihadi content on
the Internet, including scenes of brutal violence, a Paris prosecutor
The jihadi Internet world has been awash with calls to followers in
the West to act by themselves, and to attack targets near their places of
Those issuing the calls believe such tactics minimize the
chances of terrorist plots leaking out to intelligence services.
clear example of this trend was the online magazine, Inspire, produced by
Yemini-American al-Qaida operative Anwar al-Awlaki and his American- Pakistani
accomplice, Samir Khan. Both were assassinated in a US drone attack in Yemen
Inspire told Western Muslims that they had a religious
obligation to carry out a jihad, and repeatedly urged readers to act alone, pick
targets near their homes and keep their plots to themselves.
your ability, you choose the target [in your home area].
“Your pool of
targets is large, so make sure to think of all of the available options. An
example of something local, easy and effective is attacking an army recruiting
center, nightclub, highway or busy shopping mall,” said the first issue of
Inspire, which was made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute
Last year, when asked by a reader how best to serve the jihad,
the magazine advised him to attack civilians on his own, and argued against the
idea of travelling to distant battle arenas.
In February, the Shumoukh
Al-Islam jihadi Internet forum carried a message from a member calling on
American Muslims to launch lone wolf attacks, according to MEMRI.
other messages, the actions of Nidal Hasan, who was behind the 2009 Fort Hood
shootings, are held up as glorious acts.
The jihadi messages go far
beyond discussing attack tactics.
They are filled with murderous hatred
of Jews, Christians and Muslims deemed to be “traitors” to the cause of
Western security forces will need to dedicate very large resources
to tracking down “individual jihadis” and aim to stop them before they
Yaakov Lappin is author of Virtual Caliphate; Exposing the Islamist
State on the Internet.