Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
Recent posts on “jihadist” websites encourage others to incite further riots so that police cannot focus on fighting terrorism.
Postmedia News Aug 10, 2011 – 6:25 PM ET
By Steven Edwards
NEW YORK — Islamist extremists are trying to capitalize on the riots engulfing Britain, calling on their followers to help incite further violence so that a terror attack can be launched amid the chaos.
Via “jihadist” websites, the extremists say English-fluent Muslims should infiltrate social media with messages that encourage the rioters so that the police remain “preoccupied” by the disturbances, according to the Washington-based monitoring group SITE.
The extremists are characterizing the violence as “useful” for London-based terror cells, saying the rioters are young and impressionable, and can be easily manipulated if the messages appear to be the sort of things they would write.
The extremists reason that by extending the violence, the police will drop their guard against jihadist terror planning.
The increased chaos could also force the British government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, some of the sites say.
“The events in London are an opportunity for the mujahedeen to make a move in London and attack,” says one prominent entry, adding that continued violence “may weaken the position of (the British) staying in Afghanistan, because the soldiers will be needed in London.”
The riots spread after Saturday night when a small protest over the police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old suspected gang member, escalated into violence.
“We are all Mark Duggan” and “The people want punishment for the killers of Mark Duggan” are among a string of slogans another jihadist site provides as examples it is seeking from English-speaking Muslims.
Other examples mimic typical slogans of the political left in Britain, such as “No to favouritism and austerity” and “The people want a dignified life.” Yet another — “A call for free people of Britain to stop racism” — is a clear reference to the fact Duggan was black.
“We ask the brothers who are fluent in the English language to write a number of inciting sentences (at least ten sentences or phrases) and post them here in the subject,” the site says. “We will do the rest with permission from Allah.”
Other sites call for English-speaking followers to post slogans directly, with one providing a list of Facebook addresses, mainly of prominent English soccer clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, and also of British universities.
One site expresses the hope that the riots will escalate to mirror the “Arab Spring” demonstrations that have swept the Middle East and North Africa, toppling some regimes.
“Just as they supported the Arab revolutions through Facebook and Twitter, and elsewhere, we want to export these revolutions to them,” this site says. “Enter their pages . . . and spread photos of their revolution and incite them to continue. Make video clips of their protests and heroic acts.”
This site posts a picture of three masked youths, the centre one holding the Union Jack, as smoke surrounds London’s Big Ben. “Welcome to London and Europe: Spring Revolutions World,” the picture is titled.
“Those who are demonstrating are mostly young people, and it is easy to make use of their enthusiasm,” the site adds cynically.
In the absence of opening the way to a terror attack, efforts to encourage more violence may achieve other jihadist aims, according to a supporter of the jihadist entries. “One of the goals of this workshop is to exhaust the economy of the British government,” the supporter says, according to SITE.