Counter-Terrorism: The Electronic Jihad

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May 19, 2014: In April 2014 a Moslem man (Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi) from Nigeria pled guilty in an American court to charges that he had participated in an al Qaeda operation in Yemen to promote Islamic terrorism via the Internet. Babafemi faces up to 30 years in jail for going to Yemen in 2010 and joining al Qaeda. He later returned to Nigeria and was arrested there and extradited to the United States in 2013. He is one of an increasing number of Islamic terrorist sympathizers who stay out of the battleground areas and provide support via the Internet. Terrorist leaders now recognize this sort of support is important for jihad (struggle) and it is encouraged.

Babafemi responded to al Qaeda calls for supporters to help develop methods (electronic or otherwise) to promote Islamic terrorists and help solve difficult problems, like how to deal with the American UAVs that constantly patrol terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan (Waziristan), Afghanistan (the Pakistani border area) and southern Yemen. These aircraft constantly find and kill Islamic terrorist leaders with missiles, including several of those who, like Babafemi, worked on Internet based promotion and propaganda. This effort produced many English language efforts and a lot of the work was based in Yemen.

In early 2013 the Afghan Taliban put out an appeal for help via the first issue of “Azan”, an online magazine similar to the earlier (2010) Inspire magazine based in Yemen. Created by American born (and Yemen based) Islamic terrorist Anwar al Awlaqi, the ten issues of Inspire gave wannabe Islamic terrorists guidance on what the main targets should be (according to senior al Qaeda leadership) and practical advice on how to carry out attacks. One issue advised going after prominent people, like retired politicians or those deemed to have insulted Islam, and kill them. Several articles provided more practical advice on various terrorist techniques. Anwar al Awlaqi was killed by a UAV launched missile in 2011, as have several other terrorists associated with Inspire. This is why Inspire was published irregularly. Azan was soon under similar pressure and has had only five issues so far. Inspire magazine has published twelve issues since 2010, including one in early 2014.

Azan’s first issue was devoted almost entirely to the UAV problem. The terrible suffering of the Holy Warriors because of the relentless UAVs was described in great detail. The implication was that many clever ideas to counter the UAVs have failed and new and more effective ideas are desperately needed. The missile armed UAVs were a major threat to Islamic terrorist leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The U.S. CIA UAV campaign against Islamic terrorists in Pakistan (mainly North Waziristan), Afghanistan and Yemen has led to al Qaeda being rendered much weaker by all the losses to leadership and technical personnel (especially bomb builders). This “decapitation” tactic was successful in Iraq and earlier in Israel (where it was developed to deal with the Palestinian terror campaign that began in 2000). The Israelis were very successful with their decapitation program, which reduced Israeli civilian terrorist deaths from over 400 a year to less than ten. American troops have used similar tactics many times in the past (in World War II, 1960s Vietnam, the Philippines over a century ago, and in 18th century colonial America) but tend to forget such lessons after a generation or so.

 

 


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