Jihadis Publish Online Recruitment Manual

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 34

To become a full fledged jihadi, volunteers must go through gradual ideological reform and build a sense of security and vigilance needed for clandestine activities. To further their preparation, one al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadi internet forum uploaded a new manual entitled "The Art of Recruitment," offering tutorials in techniques for approaching and recruiting suitable people to join the global Salafi-Jihadi movement (al-ekhlaas.net, September 7).

A jihadi forum participant using the nickname Abu Amr al-Qaedi uploaded the 51-page recruitment manual. The work contains a logical means of recruiting candidates for jihad, using three phases of “solitary preaching” and cultivation. The recruiters are instructed to cover every phase before moving to the next step. The successful completion of all three phases should lead to the formation of an active jihadi cell. In preparing the manual, al-Qaedi says he took into consideration the differences between people living in Muslim countries not occupied by crusaders, such as Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Algeria and others. "The purpose of the booklet is to transform the candidate into a devout and distinguished jihadi who understands the fundamentals of jihad, consequently becoming one of the ‘victorious cult.’” Al-Qaedi defines “solitary preaching” as a personal, direct contact between the candidate and the recruiter. Direct contact presents a good opportunity to comprehensively mold the candidate into a pious member of the Salafi-Jihadi movement and closely observe the recruitment progress. The recruiter can easily clarify any frustrations the candidate might have about joining jihad, refute discrepancies and, above all, preserve the confidentiality of the operation from the notice of security forces.

Before getting into the recruitment phases, al-Qaedi explains the candidate selection criteria as follows:

• The non-religious: Deemed most preferable because the recruiter chooses and imbues the candidate with Salafi-Jihadi ideology without any objections since the candidate isn’t committed to any theory.

• The newly committed religious youth: These include Islamic converts to Salafism from other Islamic denominations.

• Those who are easy to convince because they already consider other ideologies defunct and willingly adhere to Salafi-Jihadism.

College students and school pupils are also suitable candidates the recruiter can take his time cultivating before approaching. The manual instructs recruiters to avoid prattlers, disloyal types, hostile ideologues, misers and anti-social personalities. The solitary preaching aims to tune the candidate into Salafi-Jihadi dogma, says al-Qaedi, who proceeds to lay out the three phases in the process:

1) The first phase concentrates on the selectee’s characteristics. The candidate must be chivalrous, generous, honest, and committed to Islamic religious practices, such as praying five times a day (on time), fasting, and performing other Islamic rituals. In addition, the candidate must not be biased towards any other political group or ideology. Rather, he or she should be a socially stable and accepted figure capable of leading others.

2) To ingratiate the recruiter with the candidate, the recruiter performs daily and weekly errands with the candidate over a three week period, such as frequenting the mosques together, inviting the candidate to lunch and presenting gifts. In this phase the recruiter starts talking about Islamic affairs, focusing on any anti-Salafi-Jihadi ideas the candidate might have; "It’s very important to understand the candidate’s social relations and interests at this phase. You must know where and with whom he spends his 24 hours daily," says al-Qaedi.

3) The third phase, entitled "awakening the faith," requires from one to two weeks. In this phase, the recruiter highlights the virtues of good deeds, emphasizes the importance of on-time prayers, and devises a plan to purify the candidate of bad habits by performing mandatory and voluntary prayers. Further, the candidate should be exposed to the notion of heaven and hell. In this phase, the selectee’s mindset should be opened to the promise of heavenly virgins; otherwise the candidate should be tacitly threatened with the fate of punishment in hell. The recruiter also instills certain Salafi-Jihadi principles by encouraging the candidate to read books on jihadi virtues, such as the late Abdullah Azzam’s Ithaf al-Ibad bifadail al-Jihad (Conferring the Worshippers with the Virtues of Jihad). The highly influential Palestinian-born Azzam was a Sunni Islamic scholar and theologian in Afghanistan during the period of the Soviet invasion, becoming a central figure in the recruitment of mujahideen and preaching of defensive jihad.

Al-Qaedi also suggests other books by renowned Salafi-Jihadi shaykhs such as Khaled al-Rashid, Abdul Muhsin al-Ahmad, Hazim Shoman and Mohammad Hassan. Candidates should also listen to sermons of prominent shaykhs such as Abdul Hameed Kishk and, most importantly, statements released by Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In a later stage, al-Qaedi suggests exposing the candidate to videos of terror attacks perpetrated mainly by jihadis in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jihadi versions of the 9/11 attacks and other documentaries released by jihadi sources or news stations are also suitable.

Al-Qaedi enumerates a step-by-step plan for ideologically influencing the candidate:

"The candidate would listen to sermons, for instance, by the famous Kuwaiti Salafi-Jihadi cleric Hamid al-Ali, followed by a religious discussion of the sermon’s content. Next, the candidate would be asked to read one of al-Ali’s books. Lastly, he would listen to al-Ali’s eulogy of [Abu Musab] al-Zarqawi for the latter is a Salafi-Jihadi hero who would encourage the candidate to follow his footsteps."

The recruitment phases of "The Art of Recruitment" are very practical and logical, with a brainwashing-style sequence. The manual is based on the book Daawat al-Moqawama al-Islamia al-Alamia (The Mission of Global Islamic Resistance, December 2004) by the renowned Syrian Salafi-Jihadi theorist Mustafa bin Abd al-Qadir Sethmariam Nasar (better known as Abu Musab al-Suri – see Terrorism Monitor, August 11, 2005; September 21, 2006; January 18, 2007; February 1, 2007). Jihadis regard the "Art of Recruitment" as a supplementary manual to al-Suri’s book.