Young Journalists Club | Latest news of Iran and world

News ID: 12252
Publish Date: 9:53 - 21 August 2017
TEHRAN, August 21 - A French journalist has infiltrated a group of self-radicalised young men, secretly filming them for six months, to understand what motivates them to aspire to be terrorists

Abu Oussama being secretly filmed

TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The Muslim reporter, who uses the alias Said, told Four Corners he could "go to places that my colleagues can't".

"With a tiny hidden camera, I am going to try to show what happens behind the scenes of this organisation that controls its image so strictly, to show what is really going on in their heads," he said.

Said, using a third party to communicate to protect his identity, told Four Corners he found an angry, menacing group of young men, with little understanding of Islam, using faith as a cover for their violent intentions.

"For me the principal lesson is, they have no fear," he said.

"They are some lost people without reasons to fight and without real ideology.

Said used social media to first make contact with the group, setting up a Facebook account using a pseudonym, following radical groups who support the Islamic State (IS) group and engaging with users who preach extremist views.

It did not take long for him to receive dozens of friend requests from people with similar profiles.

Over several weeks, Said attempted to build trust across the social networks.

Eventually, one member of a group invited Said to join Telegram, a secure messaging platform where messages are encrypted and self-destruct.

The contact called himself Abu Oussama in tribute to Osama bin Laden and went on to introduce the journalist to other members.

Next, Said arranged a face-to-face meeting with Oussama, the 20-year-old French-Turkish citizen, the "emir" of the group, who lives at home with his father.

Oussama boasts of his five-month jail term served for terrorism — and the ease with which he tricked authorities to release him on "good behaviour".

He tells Said he wants to join the fight in Syria, and displays a hypnotic attraction to a martyr's death and the riches that would follow.

"I want to throw myself upon the infidels," he said.

"I want to kill them and I want to die afterwards. I want Allah to make me a martyr.

'I was impressed at how easy it was to bypass authorities'

Online, the group's extreme militancy becomes quickly apparent.

They use Telegram to express their fanatical views and organise themselves, without any fear of censure or exposure.

"What surprised me was that the police couldn't do anything against encrypted messaging and false identity," Said said.

"I was impressed at how easy it is to bypass authorities."

During several clandestine meetings, conducted in parks and fast food restaurants — all captured on film — Oussama outlines to Said his plans to carry out attacks on military bases, newspapers and television studios in France.

"Blood needs to run. It needs to run a lot," he said.

     "They have to die in their thousands. In thousands, in thousands. I want to see thousands of French people dying."

'You're a dead man', on several occasions, Said was put to the test to see if he could be trusted.

In one instance, he was instructed to collect a message from an anonymous militant who had recently returned from Raqqa, the ISIS heartland.

As Said waited on a train platform, a woman in a niqab walked over and handed him a handwritten letter.

The note laid out shocking plans for an attack in France:

"We can aim for a place with lots of people … nightclubs or cabarets in Paris … perverted places that are frequently attended by the disgusting infidels. We'd need one or two suicide bombers inside … Once he's inside he can wait until it's filling up and then he can go for it."

After receiving their instructions, the group's plans escalate.

Oussama uses Telegram to organise the purchase of guns, and Said secretly films the group going to the location where the weapons are concealed.

But before he can take his findings to authorities, police conduct surprise raids on the group, arresting several of the members and foiling their plot.

Oussama was arrested, and Said believes many of those he met are now in prison.

But he has cut off all communications with the group.

After the raids, he received a warning text message from one of the members: "You're a dead man."

He remains concerned for his own safety.

"I have to be careful, I can't go anywhere and I can't put pictures of myself on the web," he said.

"Last week, I left a party because it was being filmed and broadcast live on the internet."

Said hopes that in showing the deluded, fanatical and amateur behaviour of the young men susceptible to IS radicalisation, his film will reveal them for what and who they really are.

"I see lost, frustrated, suicidal boys, easily manipulated," he said.

"I didn't see Islam. Just lost boys for whom life was too great a burden."


Source: abc News

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