International Terrorism: Terrorism 2.0

Al-Qaida's ‘Virtual Caliphate’ is highlighted in a new book by 'Post' crime and internal security correspondent Yaakov Lappin. Excerpts:

Virtual Caliphate 311 (photo credit: Potomac Books, Inc.)
Virtual Caliphate 311
(photo credit: Potomac Books, Inc.)
Nine years after the US and its allies attacked the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroyed al-Qaida’s only safe haven, the threat posed by Salafi jihadis continues to cast a shadow over European and American cities, international air travel and the stability of Arab and Asian Muslim states, from Egypt to nuclear Pakistan.
Al-Qaida and its affiliates were able to survive the loss of Afghanistan largely because they set up a base on the Internet instead.
The virtual caliphate is used by Islamists to carry out functions typically reserved for a physical state, such as creating training camps, mapping out a constitution and drafting tax laws. The global jihadi movement seeks one, main goal – to reestablish an Islamic caliphate and to continually expand its borders. In the meantime, due to its failure to achieve this goal, it has declared the whole world to be a dar al-harb – a land of war – and established a caliphate online instead, in which new attacks are plotted and from which new recruits are dispatched to wreak havoc on the world order so despised by jihadis.
Even with no firm control over any territory, al-Qaida has, thanks to the virtual caliphate, been able to continue to recruit new soldiers for the jihad, train them for war and keep the core of the global jihadi movement intact in cyberspace, while waiting for an opportunity to “upload” the caliphate to a physical area, be it Somalia, Yemen or a return to Afghanistan. Some online activists have even proposed Britain as the site of the future caliphate. The following is an extract from my forthcoming book, The Virtual Caliphate, published by Potomac Books, Inc.
AFTER ACCUSING the West of being a morally bankrupt, criminal and polytheistic society, hell-bent on wiping Islam off the map, the website next targets capitalism, the system that “has led people to become enslaved to wealth.” In what sounds like an Islamist version of Marxist writings, the website condemns capitalism for making money and wealth the absolute forces of benefit. People’s souls have “become subservient to the dollar bill in an almost absolute sense, with no acknowledgement of Allah.”
Again the Koran is cited: “The Messenger said, ‘May the worshiper of al-diar [wealth] be wretched. May the worshiper of velvet cloth be wretched. May the worshiper of silk cloth be wretched. May he be wretched and disappointed.’” The 2008 financial crises have been exploited by jihadi websites, with some even adding whole sections to their home pages that portray the crises as yet more evidence of the West’s defects.
The ministry of war’s indoctrination section aspires to shatter the identity of young Muslims. The jihadi way is freedom, young Muslims are told. The true “universal declaration of freedom of man from servitude” is Islam, which is why jihadism must challenge “all kinds and forms of systems which are based on the concept of the sovereignty of man.” According to the Saved Sect website, Western Muslims must decide whether to continue down this path or choose the jihadi liberation movement.
“Democracy and all that emanates from it is retarded and perverse, something that is completely rejected in Islam.”
If Muslims reading these unremitting messages begin to view themselves as being part of the problem, then the first stage of jihadi brainwashing, in which there is a radical shift in their own thinking, is nearly complete.
The newly radicalized Muslims must not only alter their worldview, they must also start thinking about how to dedicate their lives to the caliphate. All free time should be spent doing this, as “there is no such concept in Islam called boredom or ‘killing time’ and this disease affects a large portion of Muslims, male and female.”
A LONG LIST of activities must immediately disappear from the daily lives of the regular visitors to jihadi websites: “Listening to music, smoking, cruising, watching TV, running away from responsibilities to go on picnics and holidays, daily socializing with the intention to have fun and kill time, sleeping a lot and chilling out, reading cheap newspapers, magazines and novels, etc., rather than to read more beneficial and serious books such as the Koran, books of hadith, Islamic articles, etc., playing games, solving crosswords, chatting on the phone for hours, ignoring duties/responsibilities and preferring to rest, slack and be lazy, exceeding one’s involvement in sport activities, diverting from the serious, fruitful work to wasting time, playing on the Internet for no need, looking for excuses not to do any duties as he is bored with doing them, window shopping and spending hours in the market, going to cinemas and restaurants to eat out, hanging out with friends, joking around and being sarcastic.”
A virtual Taliban quickly establishes the dos and don’ts of the modern jihadi warrior.
The Paradise Cult
As they become increasingly alienated from the world, new recruits are taught to despise life and cherish death.
The immediate reward for the soldiers of jihad is paradise.
That message is drummed into recruits day after day.
The allure of paradise allows the online jihadi recruiters to guarantee immediate rewards to those who sign up.
Paradise, after all, can be reached instantly.
An e-book written by Sheikh Yusuf al-Uraayi titled The Ruling on Jihad and Its Divisions, which was translated into English by British jihadi ringleader Abu Osama, sings the praises of reaching paradise by dying in an act of jihad.
“Whosoever dies and does not fight jihad nor wished himself to fight, dies upon a branch of hypocrisy,” the text reads.
The terrifying belief that an act of jihad will result in the reward of paradise is based on an understanding of a quote from the Koran. “Allah traded with the believers, I will give you jannah [heaven], if you give me your life and your wealth, they fight in the way of Allah, they kill and are killed... Then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme” (Englishlanguage Koran 9:111). The quote above is taken from an online document called “the Permissibility of Self-Sacrifice Operations” downloaded from a website that espoused jihad in the West. The Muslim nation is under attack, and the twin pillars of Islam, the caliphate and jihad, are missing, the website said.
As an immediate incentive, the lure of jannah has proven its effectiveness. There is no shortage of evidence that this promise has the ability to convince young men to end their own lives for the purpose of jihad, forming one act in a chain of attacks aimed at resurrecting the caliphate.
“We are not targeting for something small... we target jannah... Allah traded with the believers, first with their life, and then their wealth, whether they die by the sword, the gun, or the bomb,” the website stated.
Being shot on the battlefield or “becoming a bullet for the sake of Allah” is equally valiant.
“When the time comes, the martyr will never feel at the time of his death except a pinch.”
While many Muslim scholars have ruled that acts of jihad such as suicide bombing are forbidden acts of self-destruction, jihadi websites quickly establish that suicide terrorism is a holy sacrificial act and surround it in a mist of glamor and mysticism.
It, like similar acts, is a pinnacle moment of spiritual ecstasy. In online jihadi rhetoric, these acts are called martyrdom operations. A working definition of martyrdom operations can easily be found among the numerous websites that sanctify jihad. “A specific action performed by the mujahid [holy warrior], with certainty, or least amount of doubt, that it will inflict on the enemy killing and suffering, and that he has certainty or the least amount of doubt that he will reach martyrdom by being killed for the sake of Allah.” While most soldiers are taught to avoid injury to themselves, jihadi recruits are told that coming back unscathed from their mission would be an unmitigated failure.
Their harm and demise is necessary to reach heaven. “Either way there is victory, whether he kills or is killed,” the website assured.
The rhetoric penetrates deep into the minds of newly brainwashed online recruits. This can be confirmed by a glance at the screen names of members of jihadi chat rooms. Jannah is one gaining popularity.
To increase the bait, fanciful descriptions of the portion of heaven reserved by Allah for the Islamic “martyr” pepper these websites. The virtual caliphate often talks about “the palace for the martyr,” a heavenly station where dead jihadis go to enter paradise.