Increasing number of English-speaking Islamist extremists and their influx to Syria worry the US. “We’ve been monitoring [these developments] and it’s concerning,” says a US official
Increased use of English in videos by Islamic extremists and a rising flow of recruits from Europe to fight in Syria and on other battlegrounds is disturbing U.S. officials, who fear some could return to Europe or come to the United States to plot attacks.
Last week, a man who spoke English and Arabic calling himself Abu Ahmed al-Amriki starred in a new video message posted on jihadist websites and produced by al-Shabaab, the Islamic militant group based in Somalia.
Al-Amriki, whose face was blurred and whose real identity is not known, called on Muslims to give up their comfortable lives in the West and head for the front lines in places like Somalia, Mali and Afghanistan to wage Islamic holy war, according to an account by the Long War Journal, a counterterrorism blog published by the conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Although the fears of the West have sometimes proven overblown, this video and others highlight what senior U.S. and European security officials say is a fresh increase in English-speaking recruits, including dozens of British citizens, traveling abroad to fight, most notably in Syria. The concern, officials said, is that many English-speaking recruits are joining the most militant, anti-Western Syrian rebel factions.
Earlier in February, a person describing himself as an “American mujahidin,” or holy warrior, posted the second of two video messages touting his involvement with rebels fighting the government of Syria, according to Flashpoint Global Partners, a New York-based consulting group that monitors militant websites.
Simultaneously, U.S. officials said, English-language literature has blossomed online exhorting aspiring militants to violence wherever they are and providing them step-by-step instructions on how to use household materials to cause death and destruction.
“We’ve been monitoring [these developments] and yes, it’s concerning,” said Paul Browne, Deputy Commissioner and spokesman of the New York Police Department, which since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has built aggressive counterterrorism operations.
In recent days, al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has issued two slick English-language magazines for the would-be weekend holy warrior.
Holy warrior guidebook
The tenth issue of “Inspire,” AQAP’s irregular but well-produced Internet magazine, contains what amounts to a list of Westerners the group has targeted for death. They include novelist Salman Rushdie, anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Terry Jones, the Koran-burning Florida preacher.
The second new publication by “Inspire,” calls itself the “Lone Mujahid Pocketbook.” It goes on to offer how-to guides, complete with pictures and maps, for causing traffic accidents, staging “lethal ambushes,” “destroying buildings” by creating gas leaks and igniting them.