There are plenty of reports about the power of blogging and how the disaggreation of official newsflows can change the citizen’s relationship to information, and the state. John Lloyd looks at how some young British Muslims are being radicalised by website’s run from 1000’s of miles away – mostly without any knowledge of parents, family, neighbours or friends.Refering to some of the Yorkshire based London bombers:
These young murderers were that new phenomenon, terrorist nerds. Night after night, they click on to Islamic websites and live a life of virtual resentment and hatred, burning ever hotter with indignation over what has been or is being done to Muslims in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Palestine and Iraq. Images of horrors perpetrated on one’s nation, tribe or community have played a role in stimulating the murderous instincts of would-be combatants for centuries.
In contrast with previous campaigns, the internet makes a crucial difference:
Now, the one who prepares mentally to kill himself and as many of the godless as he can does a crucial part of his training gazing impassively at images of Muslims slaughtered by Americans, British, Indians and Russians, or the sado-porn amateur snaps from Abu Ghraib. What would a community worker, a friend or, for that matter, a mother see but a young man, scrolling through images and text, betraying no emotion? Journalists, who do this for large parts of their day, might understand the phenomenon at least as well as anyone.
John Battle, the MP for Leeds West – his constituency abuts Beeston – used a striking image to describe what happens when people get their information from the web. He said that it was as if a coherent picture had been painted on glass, and the glass then shattered, then some shards of the shattered glass put together in an arbitrary way, according to the dictates of a mind prompted to create an impregnable carapace of grieving hatred.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty