Internet Jihad: A World Wide Web of Terror
By his own admission, he never fired a single bullet or “stood for a second in a trench” in the great jihad against America. Yet the man who called himself “Irhabi007”—a play on the Arabic word for terrorist and the code-name for James Bond—was far more important than any foot soldier or suicide-bomber in Iraq. He led the charge of jihad on the internet.
In doing so, Irhabi007 was a central figure in enabling al-Qaeda to reconstitute itself after the fall of the Taliban and its eviction from Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda (“the base”) and its followers moved to cyberspace, the ultimate ungoverned territory, where jihadists have set up virtual schools for ideological and military training and active propaganda arms.
Irhabi007 pioneered many of the techniques required to make all this happen. He was a tireless “webmaster” for several extremist websites, especially those issuing the statements of the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Intelligence agencies watched powerlessly as Irhabi007 hacked into computers, for instance appropriating that of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to distribute large video files, and taught his fellow cyber-jihadists how to protect their anonymity online.
Despite his celebrity, this was not good enough for Irhabi007. “Dude,” he complained to a fellow cyber-jihadist (who called himself “Abuthaabit”) during one encrypted web chat, “my heart is in Iraq.”
Image source: The Economist