Information Warfare: The Short (but Notable) Career of Fatah al Islam

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September 28, 2007: At the beginning of September, the Lebanese military announced it had cleared the Nahr al Bared refugee camp of the Islamic terrorist organization, Fatah al Islam ("The Victory of Islam"). In the four month long fight, the top leadership of the group was killed except for the emir (leader). This fellow, Shaker al Absi, was a personal friend of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the late Al Qaeda in Iraq emir. Together they trained in Afghanistan where they formed a group of Islamic terrorists from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria called Jund ash Sham. Many members of the group were also past members of another Lebanese/ Palestinian terrorist group called Asbat al Ansar. The goal of all of these groups was to form an Islamic caliphate in the Levant (eastern Mediterranean) region. Combined with the other al Qaeda-affiliated organizations, the Levant fits in nicely between the planned Mesopotamian, Arabian Peninsula, and North African caliphates. The Levant is a key piece to the global caliphate
plan.



What made the career of Fatah al Islam so notable was its use of the internet as a propaganda tool to create a following. Online forums were used as a tool for conveying the group's message, attracting recruits and building links with other organizations. In the past, Islamists used social networks to do the same - they knew people who knew people. The use of the internet allows these groups to interact with a global audience. That means the terrorists can build a larger support base for their activity. The good news is that they are easily penetrated and accessible to private intelligence organizations.



Fatah al Islam has likely been eliminated as a viable organization. The few remaining survivors will continue their terrorist activities with groups such as Asbat al Ansar or Jama'at Tawhid wa Jihad fil Bilad ash-Sham (The Monotheism and Struggle Group in the Land of the Levant). Fatah al-Islam, however, has set a precedent for using the internet as an important terrorism tool (and one which has been fully exploited).


 


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