It starts to become clear, when you spend years observing the goings on at various radical Islamist, jihadist web sites, particularly the forums populated by the adherents to that ideology, that certain sites and webmasters seem to nurture, cultivate and then turn loose upon the world... terrorists. It is as though there is a process at work much like what we see with certain mosques and imams.
You had Finsbury Park Mosque, and Abu Hamza al-Masri, for example. And online you have Sasjamal, and his sites clearguidance.com and islamicnetwork.com.
clearguidance.com was a site whose denizens were so crazed as to earn the collective nickname "Islam on Crack". Active members of the site included Zakaria Amara and Fahim Ahmad, who were central to the plot to carry out a series of bombings and other terrorist attacks in Canada.
That was then, and Amara and Ahmad are in jail, along with 16 of their companions. It is a counter-terrorism success story: the bad guys got busted and everyone else lived happily ever after.
Take a moment to say a little prayer for the flight attendant/spy. We may never know his real name or who he was working for, but there is no doubt he was fighting the good fight. His death shall not have been in vain.
This is not the flight attendant...
...this is Daniel Joseph Maldonado AKA Daniel Al-Jughaifi AKA Abu Mohammed. He is currently in Federal custody in Houston, where he will enjoy a level of care, comfort and due process that he is truly not deserving of, despite his complicity in the murder of the flight attendant, not to mention his service in the cause of the global jihad in Somalia.
Much has already been written about Daniel, and no doubt much more will be written. Some have been quick to label him a "blogger", as though that contributes to our understanding of the man or of the global Islamist insurgency he is a part of (and in point of fact, he has a blog). But if you want to get to the heart of the matter, you need to understand Daniel's involvement in the Islamist forum at talk.islamicnetwork.com
When Sasjamal was interviewed in Houston by the Globe and Mail in August of 2006, he said he shutdown the clearguidance site because "I just lost interest." That he turned around and opened up a new forum at islamicnetwork.com suggests a different motivation, but motive aside the fact remains that clearguidance was replaced by islamicnetwork, and the beat went on.
According to the criminal complaint against Daniel, he relocated from Boston to Houston in August of 2005. By the 5th of September 2005 he was active on the islamicnetwork forum occupying the position of "Office Manager", which in practice meant he was a moderator with administrative privileges in the forum. He posted 478 times to the forum and his final posting is dated 15 September 2006. During this time he relocated with his wife and three children to Egypt, evidently to pursue his religious education. In November of 2006 he traveled to Somalia to join the jihad. That he appeared out of nowhere and immediately occupied a position of responsibility on islamicnetwork suggests that Daniel and Sasjamal knew each other already, and they may well have been friends and companions, though the exact nature and degree of Sasjamal's involvement in Daniel's jihad, if any, is unknown.
It will take a considerable length of time to analyze all of Daniel's writings at islamicnetwork and on his blog, but what an initial review of that material reveals is... a relative lack of the kind of statements that might ordinarily provide advance warning of someone's terroristic intentions. In fact one might describe Daniel in his role on islamicnetwork as a model citizen. And yet he was quite willing to kill and die in the cause of Allah. We return now to the criminal complaint:
We come to the heart of the matter. Attitudes like Daniel's don't develop in a vacuum. They develop and are nurtured in community with other Muslims, and that community is found online. Islamist forums function like little terrorist factories. Muslims enter at one end, and terrorists and their plots issue forth from the other end. No matter how good we are at monitoring these online communities, the fact is that relying on such monitoring to prevent terrorist attacks is like trying to catch a bullet in mid-flight. Just ask the man who was murdered in Kismaayo. Better to go for the weapon, before the trigger is pulled. The forums are the weapon, and this is why people like Sasjamal are culpable for the damage that results from their efforts to create and maintain these forums.
How we proceed from here is open to debate. There is more than one way to deal with online communities of Islamic extremists. But there is no doubt that watching them is not enough.
From the pages of The Daily Northwestern, 31 January, 2002:
Devon Street has long been the perfect American model for cultural pluralism. Where else in the United States are sections of the same street named after historic figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Golda Meir?
It is in this atmosphere that you can find Islamic Books & Things and Iqra' Book Center. The two book stores attract customers from all over who want to learn more about Islam.
From the outside, Islamic Books & Things, 2701 W. Devon St., resembles a local liquor corner store. But the inside reveals a religious haven where bright gold Arabic sayings line the walls and serious Islamic literature sits on two narrow double-sided rows of shelves. At the back of the store lies a small Turkish rug where costumers can pray.
Daniel Maldonado is a frequent customer of both book stores. Maldonado, who is part Puerto Rican, converted to Islam three years ago from Christianity. He moved to Chicago from Massachusetts recently so he could live in a larger Islamic community. As we speak, Maldonado steps away to observe his daily prayers. Islam requires its followers to pray five times a day facing east to Mecca. Maldonado praises the store's rich selection after his prayers.
He says both Islamic Books & Things and Iqra', 2740 W. Devon St., are invaluable resources for both Muslims and non-Muslims, helping to dispel popular misconceptions about Islamic fundamentalism and convey Islam's peaceful nature.
"Education is needed for followers of Islam because radical Muslims don't properly understand their own religion," Maldonado says. "The proof of this lies in the Qur'an. The Prophet Mohammed did not tolerate extremism. He said, 'This religion is too powerful to be taken to the extreme.'"
© 2003-2011 society for internet research