of Web Sites
The following is the conclusion of
a research paper done by the India-based 'South Asia Anlysis Group'
called "Islam & the WWW". The author was an Additional
Secretary (retd) for the Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and
presently is Director at the 'Institute For Topical Studies', Chennai,
India. It is a practical example of how intelligence organisations
study and monitor Islamic material on the web, as well as those
who logon to such sites. It's level of detail is quite shocking,
you may even be familiar with some of the sites mentioned in the
IF YOU DO NOT READ THE WHOLE THING,
PLEASE READ THE LAST PARAGRAPH OR SO, ESPECIALLY THE LAST TWO SENTENCES
- THE IMPLICATIONS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS.
Islam & The
World Wide Web
A search of the World Wide Web (WWW),
even if not very exhaustive, leads to about 1,500 sites of Islamic
organisations. Most of them have the benign objective of helping
in a better understanding of Islam among Muslims and non-Muslims
alike. They contain interpretations of the holy Koran, explanations
of Islamic religious traditions and practices and articles on the
contribution of Islam to science and fine arts etc. They also provide
a useful database of the Muslim scientists, thinkers and women engineers
of the world, the Muslim media and so on.
The following conclusions emerge
from their study:
* A large majority of them are Sunni
and Wahabi sites, with very few Shia or Iran-based ones. Some are
* The preponderance of sites run
by members of the Muslim community of the US. The next in number
are those of Western Europe, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan.
* There is a large network of Muslim
Students' Associations in US universities. All of them have their
The US also has some sites meant
for Muslim members of the US armed forces. There is one site, called
Muslim Military Members (MMM), which enrols adherents from the Muslims
serving in the armed forces of other countries all over the world.
It describes its aim as follows:
" The MMM is an information source for brothers and sisters
serving in the armed forces. We are a gathering point. A place where
information is disseminated. A means to keep people informed. Through
MMM, you will stay informed of different events, resources and news
items to help you survive as a Muslim in the armed forces. The MMM
is not an official organisation, but rather a loose association
of military personnel and those in the service of military personnel.
The cost of the website is provided freely as a service by the Islamic
Information Office, paid by Muntadanet.Inc."
* The comparatively fewer sites from
West Asia and North Africa could be explained by the restrictions
there on non-government organisations (NGOs) and also possibly by
local curbs on access to the Internet.
* Surprisingly, while there are about
50 sites focussing on the problems and history of the Muslims of
Jammu & Kashmir, one noticed only three sites relating to the
Muslims in the rest of India-- those of the Aligarh Muslim University
Alumni, the Indian Muslim Relief Committee and the "Islamic
Voice", a journal published from Bangalore. It is possible
there are many more sites, but these were not picked up by the search
* While there are many sites to discuss
the relations of Islam with Christianity and Judaism, one did not
come across any on relations with Hinduism.
There are about 150 sites relating
to the so-called jihad. The majority of them are run by Muslim extremist
organisations in different parts of the world which have taken to
violence to achieve their political and/ or religious objectives.
Some are also kept by individual Muslims with assumed names such
as Abu Mansoor, Abu Mujahid, Abu Jindal etc.
An organisation called the Jihad
Webring seeks to bring together all international jihadi organisations
to provide a common reference and navigation point. These jihadi
sites undertake the following services:
* Dissemination of information regarding
the jihad in different countries.
* Instructions on how to become a
Mujahideen, how to manufacture explosives etc.
* Database on the availability of
arms and ammunition for purchase, including the prices. The sites
providing this information are apparently run by Muslims in the
US, because the arms sellers recommended by them are all based in
* A bibliography of articles on urban
warfare and low-intensity conflicts, which had appeared in the military
and strategic journals of the US. A list of 266 such articles is
available. Many of them have been collated from the US Marine Corps
Doctrine Publications, the Marine Corps Warfighting Publications,
the Marine Corps Reference Publications and the US Army Field Manuals.
One can directly access many of these articles at the Army Doctrine
and Training Digital Library sites, by just clicking on the relevant
* Examples of articles collated:
Operations in a Low Intensity Conflict; Physical Security; Intelligence
Preparation of the Battlefield; Intelligence Officers' Handbook;
Military Operations in Built-up Areas; Urban Warfare Communications;
Air Operations in Low Intensity Conflicts; Bomb Protection Handbook;
Chemical/Biological/Radiological Incident Handbook, purported to
have been prepared by the CIA; Chemical Warfare Handbook of the
Marine Corps Institute; Chemical Warfare Agents; Military Intelligence--Using
Organic Assets; Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare, purported
to have been prepared by the CIA's Psywar Division for use in Nicaragua;
Dealing With Vehicle Hijacking Situations; Emergency Response to
Terrorism; Media Facilitation; Public Affairs Operations; Media
Relations; Building a Newspaper--Tactics, Techniques and Procedures;
Combat Neurosis etc
Nearly one-third of the jihadi websites
relate to Kashmir. These are run by indigenous Kashmiri organisations
such as the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Pakistan-based
terrorist organisations such as the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad and its
militant wing, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM--still
under construction) etc, Western-based Kashmiri organisations such
as the Kashmir American Council, the Kashmir Canadian Council etc,
Kashmiri activists based abroad such as Ajaz Siraj, moderator of
the Kashnet, Dr.Ayub Thakur of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement,
Azmat A.Khan, Secretary-General, JKLF,UK/Europe, Bashir Siraj of
the Kashmir Forum etc Some Western personalities taking interest
in the Kashmir issue such as Lord Avebury of the UK and Ms. Karen
Parker of the US have their own sites. Some of the Kashmiri sites
seem to have been constructed and to be run by a Colorado-based
Internet Service Provider with the typical Hindu name of Indra's
Amongst other jihadi organisations
active in the WWW are those of Chechnya, which maintain their sites
in eight different languages, with video/audio coverage of the fighting,
scenes from the training camps, interviews with the Mujahideen etc,
Kosovo, Indonesia and the Xinjiang province of China. One did not
come across any sites of the jihadi organisations of the Central
Asian Republics. Interestingly, the Uighur jihadi organisations
of Xinjiang seem to operate as lone wolves, with no links to other
jihadi groups. No satisfactory explanation for this is available.
The Taliban Government of Afghanistan
used to have its own site maintained apparently from Islamabad.
After the enforcement of the UN sanctions against the Taliban in
November last, this has disappeared. Now, the site carries a message
that due to difficulties in loading and maintaining the site directly
from Afghanistan, it has been discontinued. The visitors are advised
to read the "Dharb-e-M'umin", an online electronic monthly,
for news about Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya. Amongst organisations
of West Asia and North Africa having their own sites are the Hamas,
the Hizbollah, the Islamic Salvation Front of Algeria etc.
Some of the jihadi sites are in the
Malaysian language. One does not know whether they are about jihad
in Malaysia or Indonesia. Repeated searches did not throw up any
site of the Al Ummah of Tamil Nadu. However, they led to an interesting
analysis of the Hindu-Muslim communal riots over the location of
a Hindu temple in Penang in March, 1999. It has expressed anxiety
over the tensions created by the birth of the Al Ummah in Tamil
Nadu on the relations between the Tamil Hindus and Muslims of Malaysia.
Surprisingly, one came across very
few references to Osama bin Laden in the jihadi websites. There
are far more references to the late Mohd.Azzam, a Palestinian who,
along with bin Laden, was quite active during the Afghan war and
who was mysteriously killed in an explosion in Peshawar in the late
1980s.The complete text of a book on jihad by Azzam is available
on the web.
It would be difficult to estimate
the impact of these jihadi web sites on the ground situation in
terrorism-affected areas. In regions such as Chechnya, where the
Russians don't allow foreign journalists, the web sites definitely
become reference points for outside people wanting to have a version
different from that of the Russians. One does not know in how many
instances, the terrorists were established to have learnt their
tradecraft from the web sites. However, it is important for the
security agencies to closely monitor the jihadi sites. It would
also be advisable to monitor the links, if any, of the Al Ummah
with jihadi elements in Malaysia and to look for possible flow of
funds to the Al Ummah from Malaysia.