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Wanted: Americans to join Al Qaeda

Net is recruiting sergeant, senators warn

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Al-Qaeda is getting better at using the Internet to tempt Americans into joining their cause. And that increases the threat of homegrown terrorism in the US, a Senate committee warned today.

In a report, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, urged the Government to return fire with a co-ordinated response.

"By speaking directly to potential followers in the United States, al-Qaeda and others are able to control their message, suppress dissent, and offer a hateful worldview that dictates, based on a perversion of the Islamic faith, that violence is the only remedy to rectify perceived wrongs," the senators wrote.

Left unchecked, it's likely that such enlistment messages will succeed in convincing individuals in the US to carry out terrorist attacks, they continued.

Until now, Islamist terrorists have largely lacked the means to do large-scale recruiting in the US. But as they've embraced the internet as a medium for hosting terrorism-inspired videos, rap songs, blogs and forums, that's starting to change, according to the report.

Al-Qaeda has recently begun reaching out to the US-based population by adding subtitles to its videos, and other violent Islamist groups are trying to connect with western-based youth through a music video titled "Dirty Kuffar" which translates to "Dirty nonbeliever" and features a rapper brandishing a gun and the Koran as he praises the 9/11 attacks.

The senators calls on the government to find ways to isolate and discredit the message. Other than saying federal, state and local officials need to join with Muslim American and religious leaders, they don't say how the government should go about making this happen.

Their report called on government leaders to address questions including:

  • What, if any, new laws, resources and and tactics should be used to counter the spread of terrorist ideology in the US?
  • What should a communication strategy look like and what role should the government have in carrying out the strategy? and
  • What role must community and religious leaders play?

Last November, federal officials said that Islamist extremists were increasingly using the net to spread anti-American ideology throughout the world. But after acknowledging they planned to counter the assault using staff of six bloggers, many concluded the effort was just a tad small-minded. ®

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