I've found my arch nemesis in Omar Hammami, jihadist cum rapper. Hammami, believed to be a senior member of Somalia's Islamist al Shabaab, was born in the United States and, since joining the global jihad, has used his love of hip-hop (I can't really say skills) on social media, jihadist websites, and YouTube to inspire young Muslims to join the fight or to send messages to his supporters and opponents. Earlier, he used rap to mock reports of his death.
Rap seems like a natural tool in the global jihad, as Islamic extremists ban music and instead use chants in their propoganda videos. It also appeals to North American youth, which is crucial for groups like al Sabaab. The group has been known to recruit from American Muslims and Somalis, often calling and sending messages to their friends back home to asking them to join the fight, donate to "charities" also fund their effortsfor funding, and just to tell them how much fun it is to fight the non-believers. For the global jihad as a whole, reaching alienated youths stateside is crucial for leaderless terrorism. Smuggling opperatives into the United States is complex, and commanding them from overseas risks revealing them or their handlers. If they radicalize someone stateside, however, he will not need to be smuggled into the country, will be better able to blend in, and is less likely to risk giving up intelligence if caught. Effective terrorism doesn't take training camps and machine guns; al Qaeda has been pushing through their propoganda organs like the magazine Inspire for lone wolf terrorists to execute basic but unexpected attacks like driving a truck into a crowd.
How can we combat a rapping jihadist? Perhaps with a counter-insurgent poet. The idea seems right up my alley, and appears to be working in Mexico. After his son was killed by the criminally insurgent Mexican drug cartels, respected intellectual and poet Javier Sicilia is leading a movement to do what the government cannot and end the violence. Up to 40,000 people joined Sicilia in an April 6 march through Cuernavaca, calling for a national pact to put Mexico back on track towards safety and social justice through "the organization of constituent assemblies in neighborhoods and communities with the goal of creating conditions for governance and security." This sounds like John Robb's concept of resilient communities, the devolution of services and security to the community level to "preserve wealth and a quality of life despite severe system shocks. It can also be applied to the problems of counter-insurgency in semi-modern urban environment (to radically update a process that was built for the last century) and provide the potential for organic development in underdeveloped areas of the world."
By Alex Olesker