North Carolina Web Site Said to Be 'Gateway Drug' To Terror

When former Guantanamo inmate Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi blew up an Iraqi police station — and himself — in April, a U.S.-based Web site was quick to post a reaction.

"This is what you call a success story," Revolution.Muslimpad said of the homicide attack, which killed six. It described al-Ajmi as a hero, a "martyrdom bomber" who sacrificed "his life for the sake of Islam."

The site is believed to be the brainchild of a 22-year-old American Samir Khan of Charlotte, N.C.

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When the blog, also called "The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge," listed its top "scholars of Islam" and people to "take knowledge from," it wasn't hard to notice that the list of 63 names contained mostly known terrorists — including Usama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The site provides links to their works, all translated into English.

Revolution.Muslimpad's sleek, modern style includes collections of the latest videos of U.S. military Humvees exploding from roadside bombs in Iraq, as well as pro-jihad messages aimed at radicalizing readers.

But terror experts say it is unique because it is written in English for a Western audience and makes accessible radical Islamic content and context found mainly on Arabic-language sites.

"This Web site is one of the premiere English-language sites promoting terrorism," said cyberterrorism expert Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Jewish human rights group the Wiesenthal Center.

On Thursday Cooper presented a report on Capitol Hill on the dangers Internet sites like Revolution.Muslimpad pose to young, impressionable Muslims. His report, "Digital Terrorism and Hate 2.0," references the Web site four times as an example of how Islamic extremists recruit for Al Qaeda.

Part of the Revolution.Muslimpad's power comes from the context and interpretation of the radical messages, which experts say offer dangerous inspiration.

"This guy [Khan] is plugged into the hardcore ideology that Al Qaeda espouses," said Jarret Brachman, director of research at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

Brachman — who oversees the center’s research on Al Qaeda and who has been monitoring the site for two years — compared it to a "gateway drug."

"The goal is to hook people, to get more people in this country to become radicalized and see the world through the lens of Al Qaeda," Brachman said.

Sites like Revolution.Muslimpad are common in other countries, but there are a few that target American Muslim audiences, and this is "among the best," he said.

Brachman and others believe Khan is the brains behind the site. According to The New York Times, which interviewed Khan in 2007, he launched his blog in 2005 under the name "Inshallahshaheed," or "a martyr soon if God wills," from his parents’ home in Charlotte, N.C.

Khan reportedly grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., after his parents immigrated to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia. The Times reported he comes from a middle-class family and moved toward an increasingly radical form of Islam while at college in North Carolina.

He launched his site while taking classes at a community college and during his off-hours as a knife salesman, it was reported.

Since then, the Web site has changed six times, according to Rick Eaton, senior researcher at the Wiesenthal Center. It first appeared on the U.S.-based host company WordPress and was later moved to other host companies before ending up at its current Muslimpad. The American operators of Muslimpad reportedly have since moved from Houston, Texas, to Amman, Jordan.

It's unclear if Khan operates his site alone; despite repeated attempts by, he could not be reached for an interview.

In the "About Us" section, Revolution.Muslimpad describes the site as being run by a handful of "bloggers of inshallahshaheed," and says their mission is to "attempt to bring to our readers the reality on the ground in the lands of Jihad, and exposing the lies and deceptions of the disbelievers, hypocrites, and tyrannical Governments," including that of the U.S.

"Blogs offer a high level of anonymity," Eaton said, giving a blogger the ability to work incognito and to pull from multiple sources. Intelligence experts told that Khan may be working with other radical Muslim bloggers based in the U.S., such as Yousef al-Khattab.

Khattab, an American citizen born with the name Joseph Cohen, runs a Web site from Queens, N.Y., that promotes terror.

Click here to read's report on Yousef al-Khattab.

Khan "may not say ‘go kill an American,’ but by implication the entire ideology does demand violence," Brachman said. "And this guy is not just a consumer of this ideology, he’s a producer of it."

But Khan's messages, while incendiary, are not illegal.

"You have to protect the right to free speech," said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who learned of the blog in a congressional briefing in 2007, when Khan warned of a "special gift" to be given to Manhattan on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Wilson said the site is potentially dangerous but difficult to remove; Cooper said there is little anyone can do unless it crosses the line from "rhetoric to action."

Terrorism experts cannot confirm if any attempts have been made to bring down the site.

But Brachman warns that Khan and others like him will "always consider themselves observants of, not proponents of" violence as a way to protect themselves legally.

"They’ll say things like, ‘Hey, this is out there,’ and ‘I’m just drawing your attention to it,’ as a way to keep themselves one step removed," he said.

The size of Revolution.Muslimpad's viewership is not known, but terrorism analysts say that is of little importance in a post-Sept. 11 world.

Citing the 19 hijackers responsible for the attacks, Cooper said: "We live in a world where you don't need a mass movement to change history. You just need a few individuals to become dedicated to an idea or an ideal."