Readers, I’m pleased to link to my double-feature in ForeignPolicy.org that hit today.
The headline piece, entitled, “Al-Qaida’s Armies of One,” introduces readers to the next generation of jihadist pundits. It provides one of the first historical overviews of post-9/11 al-Qaida web punditry and seeks to situate Abu Dujana al-Khorasani in this broader genre of literature.
For years, Web jihadists have had ample access to both ideological material that teaches them why they should commit terrorism, and the requisite tactical knowledge of how to kill. Nevertheless, cases of Web jihadists entering the battlefield have been anomalous. The online jihadisphere is decentralized, even democratic, making mass mobilization next to impossible without a leader to rally the troops. The recent phenomenon of Web jihadists joining the physical fight, culminating with Balawi, seems to have provided just the kind of role model for which al Qaeda Web users have been longing. If so, countries across the world — and particularly the United States — should brace themselves for an exodus from the Web forums and onto the battlefield by self-styled al Qaeda armies of one.
The second piece is a side-bar entitled, “The Worst of the Worst.”
This piece offers an annotated list of current and rising stars within the global jihadist online movement. I also stuck in a representative excerpt from their writings. The pundits who I profile include:
- Asad al-Jihad2
- Abd al-Rahman al-Faqir
- Hafid al-Hussain
- Shaykh Abu abd al-Rahman al-Yafi’i
- Abu Shadiyah
- Ziyad Abu Tariq
- Shaykh Abu Ahmad Abd al-Rahman al-Masri
- Yaman Mukhaddab
My hope is that these pieces will stimulate more thinking both inside and outside of the US government about the role of these jihadist authors.