In their attempts to gather more recruits to the cause, jihadi websites are constantly posting enticing messages about the merits of the holy war against Crusaders and Zionists. A posting that appeared in a pro-jihadi forum entitled “How to become a member of al-Qaeda” lays out the requirements needed to join the terrorist group while encouraging Islamists to join the jihad. Another posting warned about the misconceptions that paralyze jihad efforts (al-ekhlaas.net, March-April).
A forum participant nicknamed Wali al-Haq posted the requirements for joining al-Qaeda. Al-Haq argues that the accusations of terrorism commonly applied to any Muslim—whether affiliated with a jihadi group or not—who prays for the victory of Islam and the mujahideen is proof of the jihadis’ success in terrifying the Jews and Crusaders: “Al-Qaeda today is not only an organization seeking to fight the Jews and Crusaders; rather it’s an ideology and a mission calling on all Muslims to uphold God’s religion and rescue the weak monotheists.” Al-Haq, who has over 3,600 contributions to jihadi forums, mostly in the field of jihadi propaganda, then proceeds to explain what a Muslim should do to join al-Qaeda.
Firstly, any Islamist desiring to join al-Qaeda must understand and adhere to the identity, ideology and objectives of the organization that was founded to continue the path of the prophets and the virtuous ancestors and to raise and defend Islam through jihad.
Secondly, the candidate has to prepare physically, scientifically and spiritually. Physical preparation must be thorough, involving training in survival techniques and physical tolerance. The candidate must understand that jihad is not a picnic; he must understand the sacrifices and hardships waiting to be endured in this path.
Thirdly, al-Haq instructs would-be jihadis to either directly join the mujahideen phalanx or the various Salafi-jihadist factions, or to pursue a solitary path in taking up the cause of Salafist jihad. Any Muslim who reacts to this appeal to support al-Qaeda in any way, be it financially, physically or by simply showing desire of intent to join, is reckoned to be a jihadi in al-Qaeda. According to al-Haq, this broad definition stands in opposition to the American concept of “moderate Muslims” standing apart from extremist jihadis.
In an earlier posting, al-Haq cautions about general factors that hinder jihadi practices, recurrent in other jihadi literature except for two interesting aspects. First, principles must not constrain jihadi methodology, says al-Haq, who—citing early Islamic practices as precedents—encourages jihadis to dare and invent new methods of warfare unreservedly of the principles of Islamic tenets because these principles are already in conformity with any means of jihad. Secondly, although spiritual preparation is important, jihad is not limited to pious and non-sinful Muslims. “In ancient times, one of the Prophet’s companions was imprisoned for drinking alcohol, but that didn’t stop him from joining the al-Qadissiya battle  and practicing jihad,” says al-Haq in justifying his argument. Another forum participant, nicknamed Khalid al-Asqalani, corroborates al-Haq’s postings by saying jihad and al-Qaeda have evolved into a global trend driven by the Salafi-jihadist dogma and, although decentralized, the movement remains unified by the practices derived from the virtuous ancestral teachings.
1. In 637 the Arab army defeated the Sassanid Persians at al-Qadissiya, by the Euphrates River.