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Al-Qaida allies plan cartoon recruiting film for kids

LONDON -- An al-Qaida affiliate says it plans to roll out what some have called a Disney-like animated cartoon aimed at recruiting children to the terror network.

Scenes from the proposed short film show young boys dressed in battle fatigues and participating in raids, killings and terror plots. It is the latest attempt by the terror organization to use multimedia to draw in potential recruits. Recently, a Yemen-based extremist group released an online women's magazine with makeup and chastity tips.

News of the animated film was announced by a group called Abu al-Laith al-Yemen on the Arabic-language al-Shamouk jihadist website, the London-based Quilliam Foundation reported Wednesday. Quilliam, which was formed by former jihadists and now aims to stamp out extremism, said it appears the group is affiliated with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

''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-Qaida who is now an analyst at Quilliam. ''But I think it could backfire. Families will be angry that al-Qaida is directing this at their children.''

British intelligence officials view al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula -- which is the branch active in Yemen and nearby countries -- as a significant threat. A bomb placed under the driver's seat of a British man's car blew up in southern Yemen on Wednesday, killing the man and wounding several others.

Security across Yemen has nearly collapsed after five months of mass protests calling for the end of autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule. The U.S. and Yemen's Gulf neighbors fear al-Qaida and other armed groups could exploit the chaos to step up operations.

The British man, who has not been identified, was killed after a bomb planted in his sport utility vehicle blew up as he drove through the southern port city of Aden, security officials said. The man worked for the Aden-based Arab Company for Inspection and Marine Consulting.