2013 April » ADL Blogs
April 23, 2013 2

Hate App Targets Towson University

Update 8/2/13: A new White Stu­dent Union has formed at Geor­gia State Uni­ver­sity by fresh­man Patrick Sharp.

The increas­ing exploita­tion of easy-to-use soft­ware to cre­ate smart­phone apps by hate groups sig­nals a move into a new realm of dig­i­tal propaganda.

Some hate groups, like the neo-confederate League of the South, have pro­duced apps intended for a gen­eral audi­ence. Oth­ers, how­ever, are devel­op­ing apps with spe­cific pro­pa­ganda tar­gets in mind. For exam­ple, the Tow­son White Stu­dent Union, founded by white suprema­cist Matthew Heim­bach, a stu­dent at Tow­son Uni­ver­sity in Mary­land, has cre­ated an app specif­i­cally tar­get­ing stu­dents at the school.

Like the League of the South’s app, the Tow­son White Stu­dent Union (Tow­son WSU) app is visu­ally crude and tech­ni­cally rudi­men­tary, pri­mar­ily offer­ing a col­lec­tion of links. In the case of the Tow­son WSU app, the links lead to blogs, a group Face­book page, a Twit­ter account for the group’s orga­nizer, a Google search results page, and a YouTube chan­nel for the group.

These Android apps are not avail­able through the autho­rized Google Play web­site. How­ever, as Android apps do not need to be cer­ti­fied for instal­la­tion (unlike iPad/iPod/iPhone apps), they are read­ily avail­able through unof­fi­cial apps dis­tri­b­u­tion websites.

Years ago, tech­no­log­i­cal advances made it easy for hate groups to cre­ate web­sites with­out actu­ally hav­ing sophis­ti­cated com­puter knowl­edge or skills. As the preva­lence of wire­less devices increases and easy-to-use app cre­ation soft­ware pro­lif­er­ates, the pres­ence of this sort of smart­phone and tablet app will undoubt­edly increase.

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April 22, 2013 1

Inspire Magazine: A Staple Of Domestic Terror

Pres­sure Cooker Bomb From Inspire Magazine

Update — May 30: The eleventh issue of Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula’s Inspire mag­a­zine cel­e­brates the April 15 Boston Bomb­ing, praises the Tsar­naev broth­ers and encour­ages future attacks against the U.S.

Update — April 23: Fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials have report­edly con­firmed that Dzhokhar Tsar­naev and his brother got bomb-making instruc­tions from Inspire magazine.

Shortly after author­i­ties revealed that pres­sure cook­ers were used in the explo­sives det­o­nated at the Boston Marathon last week, numer­ous media out­lets began to report and spec­u­late that the bombs matched designs in Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula’s English-language ter­ror mag­a­zine, Inspire.

Let’s be clear, there is still no evi­dence that broth­ers Tamer­lan and Dzkhokhar Tsar­naev read the ter­ror­ist mag­a­zine or used its pres­sure cooker instruc­tions, which are not unique to Inspire. How­ever, the Tsarnaev’s online activ­ity and social media pro­files indi­cate some fas­ci­na­tion with mil­i­tancy and Islam that are con­sis­tent with other mes­sages of Inspire.

Numer­ous inter­na­tional and domes­tic extrem­ists moti­vated by rad­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam have been influ­enced by the mag­a­zine and, in some cases, report­edly uti­lized the bomb mak­ing instruc­tions in their attempts to carry out attacks. In the United States, for example:

  • In Novem­ber 2012, Raees Qazi was arrested along with his brother, She­heryar, for allegedly plot­ting a bomb attack against unspec­i­fied tar­gets in New York City.  Raees report­edly admit­ted hav­ing read Inspire mag­a­zine, and a search of his home turned up bomb-making com­po­nents con­sis­tent with instruc­tions that can be found in an issue of Inspire he had read.
  • In Novem­ber 2011, Jose Pimentel was arrested and charged with state-level ter­ror­ism offenses in New York after he allegedly came close to com­plet­ing three bombs based on an Inspire design. Pimentel’s web­site, “True Islam,” also reposted PDF copies of Inspire mag­a­zine. Pimentel appar­ently had planned to attack return­ing U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel, post office and police tar­gets. He is still await­ing trial.
  • In July 2011, Naser Jason Abdo was arrested at a motel in Killeen, Texas, where author­i­ties claimed that he was plot­ting to attack a restau­rant fre­quented by mil­i­tary per­son­nel based at Fort Hood.  Bomb mak­ing com­po­nents were recov­ered from the motel room. The arti­cle “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” from the first issue of Inspire mag­a­zine was report­edly also found in his room. Abdo has since been sen­tenced to life-in-prison for his attempted attack.
  • Adel Daoud, who was arrested in Sep­tem­ber 2012 and charged with plot­ting to bomb a Chicago-area bar, sent his friends copies of the mag­a­zine in order to “brain­wash them,” and called Inspire “the best mag­a­zine I have read.”

Inspire’s solic­i­ta­tion for reader con­tri­bu­tions have also played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion process of other would be bombers in the U.S.

  • Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who was con­victed of attempt­ing to bomb the 2010 Christ­mas Tree Light­ing in Port­land, Ore­gon, allegedly wrote and sub­mit­ted an arti­cle to Inspire, although it was not published.
  • Quazi Nafis, who pleaded guilty to attempt­ing to bomb the New York Fed­eral Reserve Build­ing in Octo­ber 2012, also wrote an arti­cle that he sup­pos­edly planned to sub­mit to Inspire after his attack in which he described his desire to “destroy America.”

Most recently, in Novem­ber 2012, four men from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia were arrested and charged with plan­ning to travel abroad to Afghanistan to fight along­side the Tal­iban and Al Qaeda. Accord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint, the inves­ti­ga­tion began in Jan­u­ary 2012 when one of the men was searched as he crossed the U.S.-Mexico bor­der and was found to have a copy of Inspire in his possession.

Samir Khan, a 24-year-old Amer­i­can known for dis­trib­ut­ing ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda mate­r­ial online, was the prin­ci­pal author of Inspire before he was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Sep­tem­ber 30, 2011.

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April 22, 2013 0

Slain Officer Tragic Reminder Of Extremist Dangers To Law Enforcement

Offi­cer Sean Collier

The hunt for sus­pected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsar­naev gripped the nation on April 19 as author­i­ties shut vir­tu­ally the entire city down in their hunt for the deadly fugitive.

Some­what side­lined by the man­hunt was the fatal encounter that touched off the mas­sive search, the shock­ing alleged mur­der by Dzhokhar and Tamer­lan Tsar­naev of a uni­ver­sity police offi­cer the night before.  Around 10:30pm on April 18, police received a call about a con­ve­nience store rob­bery near the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT) in Cam­bridge (the rob­bery later turned out to be uncon­nected).  Shortly there­after, 26-year-old MIT police offi­cer Sean Col­lier, report­edly encoun­tered the two broth­ers, who shot him mul­ti­ple times while he was still in his cruiser, mor­tally wound­ing him.

The broth­ers allegedly car­jacked a Mer­cedes shortly there­after.  Police located the stolen vehi­cle in Water­town, but when the first offi­cer approached the car, the broth­ers allegedly jumped out and opened fire.  As addi­tional offi­cers arrived, the sus­pects allegedly threw explo­sive devices at the offi­cers.  MBTA Tran­sit Police Offi­cer Richard Don­ahue, Jr., 33, received crit­i­cal gun­shot injuries dur­ing this chase, though he is now in sta­ble con­di­tion receiv­ing hos­pi­tal care.  Fif­teen other offi­cers were injured dur­ing the shootout.  Tarmer­lan Tsamaev died in this sec­ond encounter after receiv­ing mul­ti­ple injuries, includ­ing being run over by his own brother dri­ving a vehicle.

The tragic death of Offi­cer Col­lier and the near fatal shoot­ing of Offi­cer Don­ahue high­light the extent to which police offi­cers risk their own lives and wel­fare to pro­tect Amer­i­cans from dan­ger­ous extrem­ists.  How­ever, most Amer­i­cans are not aware how often the nation’s police offi­cers must place them­selves in the line of fire to oppose dan­ger­ous extremists.

Accord­ing to ADL records, Offi­cer Col­lier was actu­ally the 30th police offi­cer to die in the United States at the hands of domes­tic extrem­ists (of all vari­eties) since 2001.  In a num­ber of those instances, the offi­cers, like Col­lier, were killed while encoun­ter­ing a des­per­ate extrem­ist fugi­tive try­ing to evade cap­ture for a pre­vi­ous act.

Just since 2009, 33 shootouts (includ­ing the Water­town event) have taken place between law enforce­ment offi­cers and domes­tic extremists—including right-wing anti-government extrem­ists, white suprema­cists, domes­tic Mus­lim extrem­ists and oth­ers.  In those vio­lent encoun­ters, extrem­ists have shot 34 police offi­cers, 11 fatally.  In at least four of those inci­dents, it was prob­a­bly only body armor that saved the offi­cers’ lives.  Almost 25% of these shootouts involved extrem­ists who were fugi­tives or oth­er­wise resist­ing arrest.

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