Thursday, July 05, 2007

Islam and the new technologies

David Seaton's News Links
For me nothing is more fascinating than to see how Islam, a religion usually associated with traditional societies, has been empowered and propelled into action more than any other ideology by the new technologies.

I think it is a huge mistake not to accept that this Islamic "awakening" is a huge, worldwide movement of historic and irreversible proportions and not to positively engage those Islamists who are not exclusively engaged in violence. Putting all these people into one sack is idiotic. DS

From frontline attack to terror by franchise - Financial times
Abstract: In late 2004, a 1,600-page treatise outlining a vision of a new al-Qaeda was posted on jihadi websites. Entitled The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance, it was drafted by Abu Musab al-Suri, a Syrian mechanical engineer who had fought alongside Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and who has long been considered a leading ideologue for al-Qaeda. Its central theme was that al-Qaeda should be less of an organisation and more of an order, in which a central base would provide primarily ideological guidance to semi-autonomous cells around the world, loosely tied to each other.(...) Whether by coincidence or design, his vision of the post-September 11 al-Qaeda has become a reality. Six years after terrorists struck New York and Washington, al-Qaeda as an organisation has been severely undermined, its haven in Afghanistan destroyed and many of its leaders captured or killed. But the violent fanaticism promoted by al-Qaeda has not only survived, it has proliferated – helped, many experts say, by the conduct of the US-led “war on terror”. The al-Qaeda order indeed appears to be thriving, with new footholds emerging just as old ones are being suppressed. While crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, for example, seem to have reduced the jihadi threat for now, frontlines are expanding in North Africa and Lebanon. Attacks by al-Qaeda-inspired militants have not reached the spectacular scale of September 11 but they have multiplied in numbers and diversified in geographic reach. Arab security officials say self-recruitment, largely through the internet, is replacing the radicalisation that once took place in mosques and religious schools.(...) Iraq has established itself as the most important new frontier. It plays the role of Afghanistan in the 1980s, a magnet for Arab militants looking for jihad, or holy war. The US invasion and continued military presence, meanwhile, have provided a new powerful narrative for recruiting jihadis in the Middle East and in Europe. Even more alarmingly, according to counter-terrorism officials, al-Qaeda in Iraq is aspiring to act as a regional base, sending militants to wage attacks abroad – including against tourist resorts, for example, in India. “Strategically Iraq is the new source of manpower, a platform to operate against the west and a source of high-level expertise from former Iraqi army officers,” says a western official.(...) “Algeria is one example that illustrates that there’s a correlation between home-grown Islamists and those coming back with skills and techniques learned in Iraq. And how does that apply to Europe? Well it’s right on Europe’s back door,” says a senior US military officer. In all this, it hardly matters, many experts say, whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive. Christopher Heffelfinger, a senior analyst at West Point in the US, says: “I actually think he may be dead. But it’s irrelevant. His ambition was to set up an Islamic awakening. I think he’s done that.” READ IT ALL

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