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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 17:19 GMT
Pro-jihad website draws readers
British Muslim at prayer in Birmingham
Azzam.com criticises moderate Muslims
By the BBC's Andrew North

A website that has been prominent in its support for Osama Bin Laden, is now urging Muslims in America to leave the country.


The war in Afghanistan is the beginning of a long war that will last several years, perhaps decades and eventually end with victory for the believers and a good outcome for the Muslim Ummah [community]

Azzam.com
Azzam.com is one of the most well-known supporters of jihad, or holy war, on the internet.

The site also attacks what it calls "apologetic and defeatist" Muslims for siding with the West.

The US Government has accused Azzam.com of serving as a recruitment hub for Islamic extremists.

It denies the charge, but experts say this and other so-called jihadi web sites are getting ever more popular, especially among younger Muslims.

Advice to Muslims

Azzam.com posts a "farewell message" on its site, a statement kept online in case the site is closed down.

"The war in Afghanistan is the beginning of a long war that will last several years, perhaps decades and eventually end with victory for the believers and a good outcome for the Muslim Ummah [community]," the message reads.


Among the youth in particular there is an appeal to this message that nothing really works, that there is no value in democracy

Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought
It goes on to urge Muslims to maintain their commitment to a jihad or holy struggle against the West.

The site also carries this suggestion: "We advise practicing Muslims to begin to plan to leave America and withdraw all their investment and cash recent events have shown the true bigoted nature of the American government."

Millions of readers

Azzam.com has been online since 1994, and although it is partly produced from the UK, it has no actual office or base. And those behind the site do not give interviews.


it is a very clear cut web site. Basically they are trying to recruit people and they seem to be desperate

Faiz Rahman of the American Muslim Council
Imran Khan, a British journalist who specializes in Islamic issues, believes the website has a massive readership.

"Azzam.com receives approximately five million hits a day across the world, and if you were to add up all the sister sites they have, you are possibly looking at 15 million hits a day," Mr Kahan says.

Criticising moderates

The website also attacks organisations such as the American Muslim Council and Britain's Muslim Council for supporting Western action against Afghanistan.

Faiz Rahman, a spokesman for the American Muslim Council, says the call for US Muslims to leave will have no impact and says the site is run by a minority of extremists

"We have seen these people, these groups in every faith in every community. I have been through the site, and it is a very clear cut website. Basically they are trying to recruit people and they seem to be desperate," Mr Rahman said.

Voice of frustration

Some experts on pro-jihad groups disagree.

They say these ideas and calls for a continuing struggle against the West are growing in popularity, at the expense of more mainstream views.

"Among the youth in particular there is an appeal to this message that nothing really works, that there is no value in democracy," said Dr Azzam Tamimi, director of the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought.

"They say we have told you this before and look at what's happening, look how the Americans are treating us in Afghanistan and elsewhere, look what the Europeans are doing etcetera, this is basically attracting people who are frustrated and who have no other way of expressing their anger."

It is clear that Azzam.com is aimed at younger Muslims - at one point it talks of taking time out from university as being a step that must be considered if a Muslim is committed to supporting jihad.

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