Four Islamic Terrorists Who Were Self-Radicalized Online

Terrorists have been able to turn the online world into “a virtual training ground.”

4. “Jihad Jane”

American Colleen LaRose, better known as “Jihad Jane” was quickly radicalized online. Apparently after attempting to kill herself during a difficult personal time, she converted to Islam. Using the internet, she reportedly made the transition from passive supporter of terrorism to an active one, and she was enlisted by an al-Qaeda operative to fly to Sweden and kill the author of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad’s head on a dog. She was arrested when caught by the FBI in 2009.

3. Zachary Chesser

American Zachary Chesser has been called “a case study in online Islamist radicalization.” Chesser converted to Islam in 2008, and by 2010 he was arrested by the FBI for providing material support to the Somali terrorist organization Al Shabaab and for making threats to kill the creators of South Park.

From a U.S. Senate report:

Chesser represents a growing breed of young Americans who have such comfort and facility with social media that they can adeptly use it to facilitate radicalization and recruitment to violent Islamist extremism that is accelerated as compared to traditional avenues of recruitment. Indeed, before his arrest by Federal authorities in July 2010, Chesser was a member of, and prolific contributor to, at least six terrorist online forums; the creator of three YouTube terrorist propaganda channels; the holder of at least two Twitter accounts; the manager of an active Facebook profile; and the creator and author of two stand-alone online blogs advocating violent Islamist extremism.

2. Roshonara Choudhry

Roshonara Choudhry has been described as an “quintessential” example of a “lone wolf,” or a terrorist who acts alone. The British student was sentenced to life in prison with a minmum sentence of 15 years for attempting to kill a member of British parliament.

Choudhry told police, according to transcripts obtained by The Guardian, that she wanted to become a martyr after discovering and watching hours of footage of sermons and videos of now-deceased radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Choudhry was reportedly targeting the member of parliament in what she saw as an act of vengeance for his vote to authorize the Iraq War.

1. Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader

Wong Maye-E / AP

Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader was arrested in Singapore when it was discovered he planned to travel to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. He had purchased an airline ticket to Pakistan where planned to contact local militant groups and then make his way to Afghanistan. He reportedly became radicalized directly after reading Islamic extremist websites.

According to Bloomberg News, Singapore’s Home Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying that Basheer had been “self-radicalised” and “deeply influenced by the extremist propaganda he read on the internet.”

Terrorism experts noted that his profile was very different from the typical Islamic extremist in Singapore. He studied at a prestigious college, had a law degree, practiced at a law firm, and even taught law at a local college.

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