Monday, October 15, 2007

The Dangerous Network of 'Relay Stations' Across North America

NEW YORK TIMES: When Osama bin Laden issued his videotaped message to the American people last month, a young jihad enthusiast went online to help spread the word.

“America needs to listen to Shaykh Usaamah very carefully and take his message with great seriousness,” he wrote on his blog. “America is known to be a people of arrogance.”

Unlike Mr. bin Laden, the blogger was not operating from a remote location. It turns out he is a 21-year-old American named Samir Khan who produces his blog from his parents’ home in North Carolina, where he serves as a kind of Western relay station for the multimedia productions of violent Islamic groups.

In recent days, he has featured “glad tidings” from a North African militant leader whose group killed 31 Algerian troops. He posted a scholarly treatise arguing for violent jihad, translated into English. He listed hundreds of links to secret sites from which his readers could obtain the latest blood-drenched insurgent videos from Iraq.

His neatly organized site also includes a file called “United States of Losers,” which showcased a recent news broadcast about a firefight in Afghanistan with this added commentary from Mr. Khan: “You can even see an American soldier hiding during the ambush like a baby!! AllahuAkbar! AllahuAkbar!”

Mr. Khan, who was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up in Queens, is an unlikely foot soldier in what Al Qaeda calls the “Islamic jihadi media.” He has grown up in middle-class America and wrestles with his worried parents about his religious fervor. Yet he is stubborn. “I will do my best to speak the truth, and even if it annoys the disbelievers, the truth must be preached,” Mr. Khan said in an interview.

While there is nothing to suggest that Mr. Khan is operating in concert with militant leaders, or breaking any laws, he is part of a growing constellation of apparently independent media operators who are broadcasting the message of Al Qaeda and other groups, a message that is increasingly devised, translated and aimed for a Western audience. An Internet Jihad Sells Extremism to Viewers in the U.S. (more)

Mark Alexander

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