The decimated al-Qaeda ‘core’ may in fact be seriously weakened since the death of its charismatic leader Osama bin Laden but still we see daily reports of violence by al-Qaeda and its offshoots, affiliates, and wannabes. The core ideology, on the other hand, is quietly spreading its tendrils.
While the ISIS (or ISIL-the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant) focus on training adult fighters (who are encouraged to return to carry jihad back to their homelands), al-Nusra Front (more closely allied with al-Qaeda Core) schools have opened to teach the Salafist ideas of Ibn Tamiya. Children, whose regular schools have been closed by the chaos, are taught the path of jihad, learning that Islam will prevail “with god’s book and a sword.” Along with free food and supplies come exercise, entertainment, and studies of Koran. The 10-15 year-olds study mathematics ‘and some other subjects.’ There is also, for select students, light-weapons training and an indoctrination into the importance of following the orders of the mujahidin. Young bodies are fed and young minds are steered into the path of violence. Child warriors have already been found among the anti-Assad forces.
Meanwhile, in the desert tracts of the Sahara, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has launched preaching convoys to visit villages and spread a jihad-focused version of Islam.
In spite of the excited reports of al-Qaeda’s use of videos, Face Book, Twitter, and their own social networks the most effective means of radicalization to violence is simple face-to-face conversation. And al-Qaeda is aware of this.
February 7, 2014, by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact