Terrorism: Al-Qaeda's ranks diversify
Rome, 14 June (AKI) - The number of women being recruited to Al-Qaeda is growing exponentially and European and American converts to Islam are swelling their ranks. These so-called "mothers of terror" are taking up the armed struggle to prove their devotion to their new-found faith, according to a report due to be presented in Rome on Monday to Italy's interior minister, Roberto Maroni.
The women believe they are fighting "Crusaders and Zionists" but actually, most of the victims of Al-Qaeda's attacks are Muslims.
Besides the "mothers of terror", the numbers of "Jihad nomads" is growing and Al-Qaeda's organisation is becoming looser-knit. There are armed groups which are still affiliated with the terror network while others are simply inspired by it and there are also autonomous cells operating.
Al-Qaeda has however retained ideological leadership and control over propaganda, while attacks are carried out by "hybrid groups", according to the new report, entitled Al-Qaeda 2010', which was prepared by the ICSA Foundation.
Diplomats and security experts and researchers contribted to the report.
The report describes how "Jihad nomads" have often grown up in the West but have Asian or Middle Eastern origins. Today they're in New York, the following month they're in Oslo and then they'll turn up in Peshawar.
The indoctrinate themselves with radical Islamist ideology, often gleaned from the Internet, and feel they don't belong. They feel isolated from the world or rejected by it.
New-Mexico born imam Al Awlaki of Yemeni descent is an example of the kind of lone radical preacher the "nomads" look up to.
The female jihadist converts follow a similar path to the nomads, whether they are Europeans and Americans or from Muslim families from Asia and the Middle East.
Groups carrying out attacks have a local agenda, such as opposition to a regime or separatism. They most carry out local attacks, but also seek international action when possible.
The attacks can be led by a well-trained command as in India's deadly Mumbai attacks in 2008. Or they may be carried out by a sole attacker, as in the case of the attempted airliner bombing above Detroit last December.
Sometimes the attacker has material help as did the Libyan would-be bomber Mohammed Game when he tried to attack a military barracks in the northern city of Milan in 2008.
Other times, the individual bomber has a network of individuals helping him. This can be small and even be made up of family members. The suspected attacker in New York's recent Times Square bombing, Pakistan-born Faisal Shahzad, appears to be in this category.
And then there are the individuals who want to wage Jihad in the war zones of Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan's tribal areas. Dozens of such jihadists, many of them German and American, have gone to fight in these countries.
Some of these jihadist 'hotheads' have achieved martyrdom and been killed in action. Others have been been sent back to their home countries by their recruiters and told to await further orders, according to the report.