The Washington Post

Al-Qaeda affiliate plans Disney-like animated cartoon to recruit kids

This image taken from the the Arabic-language al-Shamouk jihadist Web site shows promotional material for an animated cartoon an al-Qaeda affiliate says it plans to roll out aimed at recruiting children into the terror network. (AP)

Next was the arrival of a Yemen-based extremist group’s online women’s magazine, complete with makeup and chastity tips.

Now, in the latest attempt by terror groups to use media to recruit in unlikely places, an al-Qaeda affiliate says it plans to roll out what looks like a Disney-style animated cartoon to attract children to the terror network.

The proposed short film includes scenes of young boys dressed in battle fatigues and participating in raids, killings and terror plots, AP reports.

News of the animated film was announced by a group called Abu al-Laith al-Yemen on the Arabic-language jihadist Web site al-Shamouk, and reported by the London-based Quilliam Foundation on Wednesday.

Quilliam is a think tank formed by former jihadists devoted to getting rid of extremism.

”It's a Disney-like film aimed at kids that tells stories of the Prophet, stories of holy wars and anti-Western propaganda,” said Noman Benotman, a former jihadist with links to al-Qaeda who is now an analyst at Quilliam.

“But I think it could backfire. Families will be angry that al-Qaeda is directing this at their children.”

It hasn’t backfired yet. Moviemakers released four takes of the movie on the al-Shamouk Web site and largely got approval from users.

Moviemakers say the film, which is in Arabic, is in its final stages and will soon be distributed through the Web and DVDs.

The cartoon would be an anecdote to the “poison” of Western-made cartoons, the group said.

My colleague Jason Ukman doesn’t think the cartoon should be cause for concern. Read what he has to say at Checkpoint Washington.


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