Congress: Al-Qaeda Using Internet to Recruit Terrorists in the US

July 7, 2008 - 8:24 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Using a video montage showing mass executions, bomb-making, and a promise to "slit the throats of Americans and Jews," two U.S. lawmakers unveiled a report that says homegrown violent Islamic extremism poses an increasing threat to the safety of the American people. (See Video)

The bipartisan report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was unveiled by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) at a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Lieberman and Collins told reporters that al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups are using the Internet to recruit and train extremists in the United States.

Lieberman defined "homegrown" terrorists as American citizens or long-term residents. "The sophisticated use of the Internet by international terrorist organizations and their followers is increasingly a cause of this homegrown terrorism," he said.

The Internet, the report says, gives disaffected people who have access to a computer a way "to identify and connect with networks throughout the world ... and gain expertise that previously was available only in overseas training camps."

"What makes it so troubling is we don't know how many people are being radicalized," Collins said, "because it's very difficult to track."

The report calls for better coordination to meet the growing threat.

"We need a well-coordinated national plan to counter terrorists' use of the Internet and to isolate and discredit their violent ideology and, of course, the means to stop them before they carry out their violent, hate-filled acts against this country and its citizens," Lieberman said.

Lieberman and Collins also called on American Muslim leaders to help counter the threat.

Lieberman said it was a mistake to underestimate the tactics being used by "the minority" of Muslims, who believe in jihad, or struggle, to create a caliphate, or global Islamic state.

"The terrorists, who some still mistakenly dismiss as people living in caves, are as sophisticated in their communication abilities today as the very sophisticated members of this generation," Lieberman said.

He said that sophistication includes the coordination of the message being disseminated to Americans through virtual clearinghouses.

"Al Qaeda or allied violent Islamic organizations manage a multi-tiered online media operation consisting of several production units to create content with the core message used to recruit and train terrorists."

The congressional report cites one Web site, at-Tibyan Publications, which posted the text of "39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad." It offers tips on fundraising, weapons training and "raising children to love jihad and those who wage it."

The report concludes that "this is a critical challenge for homeland security of the United States; one the U.S. government must work quickly and aggressively to overcome. The safety of the American people depends on it."

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