Imagine the popular Internet sites of YouTube and Facebook being tapped by a fundamentalist outfit like the Pakistani Taliban to recruit and correspond with would-be militants.
Reports in the American media speak of a Pakistani Taliban recruiter who contacted the recently-arrested group of American Muslim youths on YouTube and exchanged coded e-mails to invite them to Pakistan and guide them on arrival.
It is another matter that the five prospective American jihadists failed to reach the appointed place and eventually ended up in police custody during a raid on the home of a Jaish-e-Mohammad activist in Sargodha.
“Online recruiting has exponentially increased, with Facebook, YouTube and the increasing sophistication of people online,” a high-ranking Department of Homeland Security official told The Washington Post.
It is unclear how widespread this ‘online recruitment’ is, but Evan Kohlmann, nior analyst with a private group that monitors extremist websites, has been quoted as saying: “Increasingly, recruiters are taking less prominent roles in mosques and community centers because places like that are under scrutiny. So what these guys are doing is turning to the Internet.”
Other reports from Islamabad, citing sources close to the FBI and Pakistani police investigators, also confirmed that the Pak Taliban recruiter, identified as ‘Saifullah’, connected with the five youths belonging to a Washington suburb on the YouTube and Facebook.