Fundamentalist jihadist websites attracting thousands of young men for jihad

Tunisian security units have arrested many supporters of terror operations committed by extremists. Those actions find support and are celebrated on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, as many, ideologically loyal to terrorist organizations, express their hate speech on social media, they do not restrain such feelings and expressions, which often expose them and make them vulnerable to arrest.

Extremists had previously celebrated the terrorist operations that took place in several places in Tunisia and abroad. Extremists already went to the streets, celebrating the killing of Tunisian soldiers in Jabal Chaanbi in an ambush.

The extremists had publicly expressed their joy and celebrated the massacre. But the most shocking thing perhaps is that these celebrations took place in some mosques and on public places.

Those people – parasites – learned what they think is a religion from suspicious Internet pages. They do not even bother to search, investigate, read, or delve into the true meanings and desired intentions. They know their religion only from aggressive pages that call for shedding blood.

Every day, we receive news about the arrest of young men on charges of terrorism, bringing the number of suspects in terrorist cases to thousands of detainees and hundreds, who are being pursued due to doubts about their affiliation with terrorist groups or providing assistance to terrorist members.

Those accusations can be linked to a number of unlicensed mosques not controlled by the state.

MENA Study and Research Center is shedding the light on the issue of attracting young people and brainwashing them. How the attraction operations have turned from direct ones through associations hidden with a religious or charitable cover, inside mosques or in prisons, to reach the stage of indirect or virtual attraction.

Thousands of young men are being recruited through websites and social networks, so how are they being attracted? What are these websites? And what are the solutions to prevent electronic polarization operations?

Young Men Attracted Through Facebook and Twitter

In fact, we were shocked when we discovered that most of the operations are conducted electronically without any direct meetings.

It became obvious that 90% of the youth fighting in the ranks of militant groups in the conflict zones were attracted through websites such as Facebook, Twitter. Researches point out that there are more 12,000 jihadist websites, including 4,800 dedicated to attracting young people to join the so-called jihad.

Other websites are devoted to manufacturing bombs, booby-trapping cars and everything related to the methods and mechanisms of jihad, while some other are specialized in spreading jihad and ideas. According to many studies conducted on this topic, the supervisors of these sites know the personality of their target, his social and financial situation, and then they attract him by passing their propaganda promoting their view of Islam.

Saif El-Din Al-Hishri, a member of the Afaq Association for Internal Security and Customs, confirmed that there are a thousand young Tunisians out of 3,000 in Syria and Iraq. They were recruited through such websites.

Al-Hishri clarified that terrorist groups have developed Internet and communication networks, while there is not any clear Tunisian legal system to protect the Tunisian youth from this danger.

Security investigations have proven an increase in the number of Tunisian youth who are attracted through websites that call for jihad and spread the Takfiri ideology with the aim of joining the ranks of armed groups in Syria and elsewhere.

This a is a real threat to young people, especially when the social and economic situation for the youth in Tunisia is deteriorating.

Tightening Control on Surfers

It can be said that hate speech and radicalization on the Internet has become one of the main tools for terrorist activities and is being used to recruit Arab and foreign fighters.

Many countries already started to tighten the control over activities of suspicious associations involved in recruiting terrorists to fight in Syria, Iraq and even In Libya, which explains the resort to Internet.

Countering cyber terrorism in Tunisia can be done by taking a number of measures, including tightening control on web users who visit terrorist sites, criminalizing terrorist operations that take place through websites, in addition to spreading awareness to educate the national public of the danger of communication with suspicious sites.

With regard to possible solutions and measures, Saif Al-Din Al-Hishari said: “Awareness is the first solution. It is imperative to diagnose the social, educational and other reasons that may make the youth accessible to these groups.“

It is imperative to involve all parties and all actors to address the phenomenon of attraction, such as reviewing many issues, like the absence of development, the absence of encouragement for scientific research, and the closure of spaces where the youth can be together, culture centres and other factors.

Despite the efforts made by the Ministry of Interior in coordination with the relevant authorities to monitor the communication of some Tunisian youth with jihadist websites, the danger of this phenomenon still lurks the youth of Tunisia, especially since these global sites are difficult to control. For example, the terrorist organization ISIS has 90,000 Arabic pages on Facebook, 40,000 in other languages, in addition to its website, accessible in 7 languages.

Penetration of Cyber Terrorism

Mukhtar Bin Nasr, a retired brigadier general of the Tunisian army and head of the Tunisian Center for Comprehensive Security Studies, considered that the published security data and all security studies show that terrorism is still a major threat for Tunisia.

He points out that the terrorist threat can be summarized today in two components: The Internet, and some sleeper cells in the country.

Bin Nasr stressed that the most important problem is the process of attraction and grooming in many spaces, which usually takes place via Internet, in educational institutions and mosques.

He indicates that some associations are able to pay funds in order to attract youth and recruit them to carry out terrorist acts.

Tunisians today have serious concerns about the penetration of electronic terrorism among educated groups, especially students. Therefore, political parties and experts are calling for the necessity of developing a strategic plan, implementing cultural and religious aspects to combat terrorism, a comprehensive fight that is not limited to security aspects.

All publishing rights and copyrights reserved to MENA Research and Study Center