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July 22, 2013

Florida Teen, Shelton Thomas Bell, Latest American To Attempt To Join Al Qaeda

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Shelton Thomas bell

The latest American citizen to apparently respond to Al Qaeda’s call by attempting to join the terrorist group is 19-year-old Floridian Shelton Thomas Bell.

Bell, who according to prosecutors attempted to join Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, has been charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.

Since 2007, at least 52 American citizens and permanent residents have been arrested or charged for successfully traveling or attempting to travel abroad to reach Al Qaeda affiliate groups. Many joined or attempted to join Al Shabaab in Somalia, while others have received training in Pakistan. More recently, some Amer­i­cans have been attracted to Jab­hat al-Nusrah in Syria.

Bell, reportedly a Muslim convert, “devised a plan to travel to the Arabian Peninsula to join Ansar al Sharia (AAS),” an alias for (AQAP), “and participate in violent armed conflict that he termed ‘jihad,’” according to the federal indictment.

Bell and a juvenile traveled to Jordan September 2012 and made contact with someone who could facilitate their travel to Yemen and introduce them to terrorists, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges that between May 2012 and September 2012, Bell and others engaged in physical, firearms, and other training in preparation for what Bell described as “the actions of jihad,” including “a night-time mission” in which they vandalized religious statues at a Jacksonville cemetery.

Bell allegedly also made video and audio recordings for the purpose of soliciting and recruiting others to participate in violent jihad.

Leaders of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville reportedly notified law enforcement about Bell because they were concerned about conversation he was having about weapons and jihad at their mosque.

AQAP has been described by the U.S. government as “the most active and dangerous” branch of Al Qaeda. The growth of AQAP has led American officials to indicate that Yemen could become Al Qaeda’s next operational and training hub for the group’s militants from around the world.

A key component of AQAP’s operational strategy entails reaching out to English-speaking audiences with its messages and propaganda in order to recruit new members. This material encourages Western audiences to adopt its ideology and carry out attacks against Western interests in the Arabian Peninsula and abroad.

The driving forces behind AQAP’s English-language propaganda machine were Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric, and Samir Khan, an American blogger and propagandist, both of whom were killed in a September 30, 2011 drone strike.

Bell, who worked as a computer repair vendor at a flea market in Jacksonville, is in jail awaiting trial on unrelated grand theft charges.

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July 19, 2013

Christopher Wade Briggs, Would-be Gunman, Posts Picture Of Self In Front Of White House

Secret Service agents in Washington, D.C., arrested an armed man in Lafayette Park across from the White House on July 16.  The man, Christopher Wade Briggs of San Antonio, Texas, reportedly took a loaded handgun out of a backpack.  Briggs also had two additional magazines of ammunition, over 170 more rounds of ammo, and two hunting knives.christopher-briggs

According to court documents, Brigg told officers “I was only going to fire a couple of shots if no one confronted me.”   Officers charged him with carrying a pistol without a license, two counts of possession of prohibited weapons, and other related charges.

Briggs is a computer programmer who gravitated to right-wing causes and developed an antagonism towards Barack Obama, as expressed in a number of on-line postings.  These include a post on one Web site made earlier in 2013, in which he claimed to believe, “with all my heart, God has a plan for all the elected or appointed leaders, even Obama and Hitler.” 

Briggs operated a Twitter feed and, briefly, a small Web site, both dubbed Your Freedom News.  The Web site generally featured articles from a far right-wing position.  One article on the Web site (presumably by Briggs) claimed that every day the author woke up to see “some government official…subverting the Constitution of These United States” and asserted that the POTUS (President of the United States) “is purposely trying to destroy this country.”  In another article posted by Briggs but written by a relative named Walter Briggs with the title “Let the Caissons Roll!”, Walter Briggs asserted that Obama wanted to make it a criminal offense in the United States to be a Christian.

On July 14, Briggs posted a photograph to his Facebook profile of himself standing next to a life-size replica of Barack Obama (such as one might find at a wax museum), with a fist raised as if to strike the President.  When his mother expressed surprise at the photograph, Briggs responded, “Can I not take a vacation?”  On Tuesday, July 16, the day Briggs would be arrested, he posted another photograph of himself, this time standing with a backpack in front of the White House.  A Facebook friend asked Brigg if he were allowed there after “that last felony conviction,” but Briggs did not reply.

At some time before 5:00pm, Briggs made a last post to his Facebook profile, addressed to the “news media,” calling on them to leave his friends and family alone.  In an apparent reference to what was to come, Briggs stated that “[I] do this neither as a left winger or a right winger” and that he just could not live with himself any more.  He urged people to “come together as a nation and solve the issues” and “do what is best for this country.”

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July 19, 2013

Marking The Anniversary Of Hezbollah’s Bombing In Panama

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the deadly terrorist bombing of a commuter airliner flying from Colón to Panama City, which killed all 21 people onboard, including 12 Jews.alas-chiricanas-iran-hezbollah-panama

The anniversary comes one day after the more well-known terrorist attack on the AMIA-DAIA building in Buenos Aires, Argentine, in which 85 people were kill and hundreds more wounded.

Over the years, both attacks have been tied to the government of Iran and Hezbollah operatives. The bombing of Alas Chiricanas Flight 00901 over Panama is believed by both Panamanian and American authorities to have been carried out by a Hezbollah suicide bomber.

A May 2013 report by Argentine General Prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused the Iranian government of masterminding and sponsoring both the AMIA and Alas Chiricanas bombings, and the Lebanon-based Shiite terror group Hezbollah of carrying out the attacks.

Iranian officials who have been red-listed by Interpol for their suspected involvement in the AMIA case have avoided arrest. In May 2013, ADL reported on two candidates running in Iran’s presidential election, Mohsen Rezai and Ali Akbar Velayati, who have links to the AMIA attack.

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