Born and raised in Britain, Junaid Hussain was an accomplished computer hacker, winning notoriety for posting former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s personal information online and for blocking a police anti-terrorism hotline.
After six months in prison, the stocky 19-year-old fled gritty Birmingham in 2013 for the Syrian desert. There he put his digital skills to work for the extremist Sunni group that the world would later know as Islamic State.
Within months, Hussain was leading a dozen cyber recruiters who U.S. officials called the “Raqqa 12” or “The Legion.” Using a web of social media accounts and encrypted messaging apps, and a multitude of languages, they directed or inspired sympathizers around the globe to join the militants on the battlefield or to launch murderous plots at home.
By mid-2015, the digital jihadis had helped lure thousands of followers to Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq — and scores of Americans to try to join or support them, according to FBI Director James B. Comey.
Hussain and his associates were able to build relationships with their followers while bypassing the U.S. government’s ability to monitor him.
The cost benefit was way on their side. Other jihadists know this, and we are likely to see people like them again seeking to inspire or direct attacks.
Read the whole story in the LA Times