WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Below the radar screen of Western intelligence and security services, there is a global re-education process on the Internet to proselytize on the true meaning of an Islamic state. This "cyberwar" is transforming the political landscape of the Middle East. It is a slow, stealthy but massive campaign.
Salafist ideologues are reinventing Islam, firing the imagination of Internet-savvy Muslim youth from Morocco to Mindanao and from Sweden to Spain. Mohamed Atta trained his 9/11 teams face-to-face. The successor generation now meets in an Open University of Jihad on the worldwide Web.
We can no longer measure success as we did before 9/11. The death of a leader, even of Osama bin Laden, makes no difference at all. Violence is only the tip of a huge, previously uncharted iceberg.
What increasingly looks like a looming disaster in Iraq is already multiplying jihadi cyberwarriors. Britain's homegrown terrorists are organized, trained and controlled directly from Pakistan or via Pakistan networks in the U.K. and the rest of Europe. MI5's Joint Terrorism Analysis Center has concluded the Internet is the key to the intelligence conundrum.
More important than the recipes for homemade bombs -- e.g., hair dye mixed with nail polish remover detonated by the flash mechanism on a throwaway camera -- are the Web sites hosted by university servers, which direct them. MI5 keeps close tabs on 1,000 known extremists, tying up some 6,000 agency personnel. But what about those who conceal their thinking, or confine their traffic to the doctrine of jihad?
Liberal intellectuals on college campuses -- the majority of the faculty in almost all universities -- dismiss the now irrefutable evidence of the link between Islamism, radicalization and terrorism.
Counterterrorism cannot be conducted effectively without full knowledge of the process of jihad radicalization on the worldwide Web. Whether this process started with the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca or Iran's Shiite revolution, or before, is immaterial. Today, co-option on the 'Net is where it's at. Those not computer literate in Arabic and English cannot begin to understand a multi-dimensional global groundswell of jihadi revenge.
A surprisingly high percentage of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims in slums around France's major cities, as well as an estimated 20 percent of Britain's l.8 million Muslims and Germany's 2.2 million Turks navigate the global web.
When the computer jihadis refer to Western and/or Arab "tyrants," they mean anyone who stands in the way of the Sharia.
Stephen Ulph, the founding editor of Jane's "Terrorism and Security Monitor" and "Islamic Affairs Analyst," majored in Oriental Studies at Cambridge University, where he studied Middle Eastern languages and majored in Arabic and Arabic literature. A senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, he is a frequent visitor to the Middle East where he is plugged in to a wide network of specialists in jihadi cyberwarfare.
Ulph has studied the phenomenon and poses several key questions:
For starters, these jihadis are constantly reassuring each other what they are doing is right, indicating in some cases self-doubt about their electronic endeavors.
Ulph's view of the jihadi curriculum:
By building an alternative sub-order in cyberspace, jihadis are undermining received ideas and beliefs behind the backs of traditional leaders who are not cyber-conscious. They describe their mission as putting the "J" back into Islam.
These jihadis are undermining the present cultural order by emphasizing:
Other themes stressed in the worldwide Jihadi Web:
Secularism contradicts Islam;
Undermining the current Islamic order are:
Jihadi Arabic books now posted on the jihadi's worldwide web:
On maintaining the authority of jihad, they list the following:
For those whose assignment is to fight the ideological war in cyberspace,
Stephen Ulph recommends:
-- "The Ikhwan Project": Create centers of research on the political dimension of the Islamic movement; find the weak spot or spots to create points of tension; read the jihadis' polemics; read the jihadis self-analysis; questions and doubts on the mujahideen and their operations; obligation to understand the weak spots in their self-criticism.
Ulph also stresses the importance of mapping the terrain by:
A possible look at future trends emerges in Yemen where all new sites are jihadi.
Almost all forgoing activity is Sunni inspired. Shiite contributions in cyberwarfare are "negligible," says Ulph.
The mosque is receding as a place of subversion as jihadi Imams are now fully aware they are under counterterrorist observation. The virtual jihad Mosque has taken its place.
Moderate Muslim regimes dismiss the danger because they are the majority. Ulph believes this is wrong-headed and can only be said by those who are not computer literate and rely on intel and security chiefs who are not computer literate either. These, in turn, rely on subordinates for their cyber skills. But those who acquire ether proficiency quickly transit over to the private sector where the take home pay is infinitely better than, say, in the Egyptian intel service.