The July issue of Sada al-Jihad (Echo of Jihad), a jihadi e-magazine published by the Global Islamic Media Front, contains religious research, analytical articles on ongoing jihadi operations and an interview with the spokesman of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. On the practical side, the e-magazine usually includes training material for the mujahideen in the field. In this latest issue, Sada al-Jihad carries an article entitled “Security Precautions: The Negatives” (hanein.info, July 15).
The “security precautions” training article, prepared by the Abi Zubaydah Center, advises jihadis to neither exaggerate nor underestimate the importance of security procedures and cover stories to evade capture by infidel intelligence services. Abi Zubaydah warns the training does not guarantee complete protection from exposure because no matter how thorough the precautions are, things could still go wrong for the slightest reasons. The training cites real life incidents where jihadis were almost caught because of slack security precautions.
After emphasizing the importance of security procedures, the training elaborates on specific procedures the jihadis are allowed to practice regardless of religious permissibility, but warns jihadis not to drift into sinfulness and to refrain from applying these unreligious practices in safe environments. The list of un-Islamic practices jihadis are allowed include:
• Shaving the beard. Unmistakable security necessity lifts the religious taboo on shaving the beard but this must not become a habit. This measure would throw off secret services only in cases where they are acting on an unconfirmed tip and/or have a wide range of suspects.
• The training recommends chewing gum and wearing gold jewelry (both forbidden for men in Islam) at border checkpoints or in any high risk security environment. In some underdeveloped countries, police patrols very often stop and screen people traveling after midnight. There are cases when the highway patrols’ suspicions led to the arrest of very dangerous terrorists, such as the case of three Hezbollah operatives caught in possession of Katyusha rockets in Jordan (Al Sharq al-Awsat, March 9, 2002). Bearded men usually attract the attention of regular police in countries hit by jihadi terror attacks.
• Holding a cigarette without lighting it or possessing a pornographic magazine without looking at it is also enough to disguise the jihadi’s religious identity, though the training urges jihadis to get rid of these items immediately after achieving the intended purpose.
• If the jihadi has to take alcohol, he must be careful not to drink too much. In this case, even the smallest amount of alcohol could expose the jihadi because jihadis have a very low tolerance for alcohol.
• Cursing religious figures or Islamic practices is allowed.
• Preaching (da’wa) is not mandatory in Islam as long as others do it. It becomes religiously mandatory if no other Muslims are taking up the task, but in high risk security environments, jihadis are allowed to drop that religious duty.
• When in an internet café, the jihadis should listen to music while communicating through the internet for jihadi purposes (Salafi-Jihadis are often opposed to the playing of musical instruments).
• It is prohibited to change a person’s God-given features using plastic surgery or wearing a wig unless it is necessary to escape capture.
• When communicating through email, jihadis must refrain from using Islamic greetings such as “Assalam Aleikum.” Instead, jihadis should open the emails with “Good day,” or “Hi.” At the same time, two email addresses should be used, one for sending emails and the other for receiving.
• Before leaving for jihad, the jihadi must leave behind fake love letters to mislead any investigation regarding his destination.
• To avoid physical torture in the prisons, jihadis are allowed to bribe the prison guards, but if bribing the guards with cigarettes does the job they should not give the guards a bottle of wine; meaning jihadis should commit the lesser sin when they can.
Throughout this security training, the author reminds jihadis not to commit the sin of lying unless absolutely necessary (such as in cover stories), but security services have long known that jihadis follow a fatwa (religious ruling) that allows them to commit perjury under oath.
In the same context, another jihadi forum posted security instructions for jihadis to avoid capture, entitled “The Security Plan” (hdrmut.net, July 16). “The Security Plan” offers advice on how to evade capture when security forces raid jihadis’ safe houses:
• Security forces usually do not know the suspect they want to arrest, therefore the jihadi must impersonate someone else and have a cover story to hide his identity.
• Jihadis must have fake ID using their real pictures.
• Jihadis could stand outside and pretend they are not the residents of the raided house.
• The entrances and exits of the safe house should be studied carefully and escape routes planned in advance.
• Jihadis must not enter and exit the safe house at regular times and should use different vehicles to travel.
• Religious discussions that would reveal Salafi-Jihadi convictions should be avoided.
• Counter-surveillance measures should be applied every time the jihadi leaves the safe house. A different route should be used each day.
The “Security Plan” is very basic on the professional intelligence level, but distributing the knowledge on the internet educates novice jihadis on the basics of evading capture, depriving intelligence services from gaining a useful asset in terror organization. It is easier to dissuade or neutralize beginners than seasoned militants.