In the dark corners of the Internet, extremists prey on young Saudis

Extremists target the Kingdom's young men and women through propaganda

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As extremists wage a war of ideas by spreading terrorist propaganda and misinformation, the main target seems to be the Saudi Arabia’s young men and women.

Al-Riyadh daily reports on how extremists are seizing every opportunity to accomplish their goals using social media and other increasingly sophisticated methods to spread their venomous messages.

These extremists rely heavily on an influential yet little-known terrorist manifesto called “The Management of Savagery.”

Published in 2004 by an extremist who calls himself Abu Bakr Naji, the book is a stomach-churning guide to the brutal tactics used by many extremist groups in the region.

The U.S. government translated the book into English and distributed the translation among the top officials of political and government agencies as well as in the Department of Defense.

The word “savagery” is meant to reflect the chaotic state that will rip through a country when its government collapses and its people lose any hope for reform in their government.

Misleading the youth

Extremists realize the impact the Internet can have on the impressionable minds of youth. They understand the importance and strategic advantage of misguiding youth on a path of death and destruction.

Dr. Fayez Abdullah Al-Shehri, founding member of Prince Naif Chair for Intellectual Security Studies at King Saud University, carried out a study on the intellectual discourse used by extremists on the Internet.

He said the discourse relies mainly on preying on the emotional vulnerabilities and naiveness of youth. The study showed that the majority of youths targeted are Arabs as they are more likely to embrace revolutionary ideas and thoughts promulgated by extremists.

Berating religious figures

Extremists try to use the current events transpiring in Muslim countries and the oppression suffered by Muslims to their own interests and encourage the youth to rebel against governments.

They depict governments in countries experiencing turmoil as weak and unable to take action to prevent troubles while intentionally ignoring the circumstances that led to existing problems.

To fight this ideology, it is very important to understand the mentality of extremists and the methods they try to use to promulgate their ideas.

Extremists work hard to raise doubts about the religious and political establishments of a country and incite people to rebel against such establishments.

They distort the meaning of religious texts in order to serve their purposes and achieve their goals. The focus is always on ambitious youth or those who are going through a very difficult stage of their lives.

They make their followers believe that this worldly life is full of evil and corruption and it not worth living for.

The study also showed that the people running extremist sites use sophisticated technology to make them look attractive and have features that allow them to coordinate with one another to put up updated propaganda.

Terrorists operating in conflict-stricken areas are often asked to narrate their stories and experiences and then post them on the site so that others can read them and follow in their footsteps.

The study concluded that moderate thinking is the only weapon that should be used to fight extremism. Moderate discourse should be organized and studied well so it can reach young minds most targeted by extremists.