Monday, October 04, 2004

Young Muslims downloading and distributing militants' snuff movies

What is one to make of this disturbing story? The Times reports that young British Muslims are downloading, watching and distributing videos of the be-headings being carried out by militants in Iraq using their mobile phones.

The article claims that an Algerian who lives in London, and who is an al-Qaeda sympathiser, has saved every available video of hostages being killed in Iraq. But it's not just the militants who are doing this:

Even Muslims opposed to the beheadings have used the new phones to look at them. Outside an Iraqi café on Edgware Road in London yesterday, Mais Ahmed, whose family are from Basra, stood holding his Nokia 6600 phone as he chattted to friends. He was one of a dozen young men in the area who admitted watching videos of the killings on mobile phones, including the beheading of the American contractor Nick Berg in May, the film of which Mr Ahmed had saved on his phone. It was common among his Arab friends, he said.

Mr Ahmed, 23, of Islington, who came to Britain five years ago, said: “It’s very common to see this, so many people are watching them on phones. I know people who have been sitting in a café and have got the film sent to them, without asking. It happened to me.”

Mr Ahmed is against the beheadings. “I don’t think what the kidnappers are doing is good: it is against our religion. The hostages never did anything to anyone,” he said.

Another man, an unemployed Iraqi Kurd, 19, admitted having watched the beheading of the two Americans captured with Kenneth Bigley. “I felt like crying,”he said.

Militants aside, can this just be put down to "morbid fascination" or is there something more disturbing driving the young Muslims featured above to do this?

Are we seeing the development of a culture that deems the viewing and distribution of such videos to be acceptable?

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