A New, Younger Jihadi Threat Emerges

December 28, 2007

Author: Marc Perelman

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


With a greeting that was as telling as it was macabre, Imane Laghriss dropped her satchel on the table of a trendy coffee shop here recently.

"It's stuffed with explosives, watch out!" snapped the young woman, echoing the grim humor commonly heard among Moroccan teenagers. But Ms. Laghriss's remark carried with it a degree of stark reality.

Four years ago, she and her twin sister, Sanae, were arrested for planning to blow themselves up inside Morocco's parliament. They were 14 at the time. The two were sentenced to five years in jail in 2003. After serving 18 months and nearly two years in a juvenile center, they are now free.

But while Imane claims to have forgone violence, she still holds the same radical ideology that inspired the unrealized plan. She surfs radical websites and says she wants to go to Iraq to fight US troops – "but not civilians."

The two women represent the leading edge of what security analysts and terrorism experts say is an emerging threat facing both Western and Arab countries: younger jihadis who have been recruited over the Internet or inspired to act through militant Islamist literature or videos. What's more, analysts say, these young radicals often don't belong to a centralized group and may even act on their own.

See also: Islam, Peace/War, Youth