Extremism & Terrorism » ADL Blogs
September 30, 2014 0

Deceased Congressman Had Ties to Anti-Semitic, Anti-Government Groups

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James Traf­i­cant at Free­dom Palooza 2011. Source: Amer­i­can Third Party

Obit­u­ar­ies about for­mer Ohio Con­gress­man James Traf­i­cant, who died on Sep­tem­ber 27 from injuries sus­tained in an acci­dent on his farm near Youngstown, detail his life. How­ever, nearly all failed to men­tion that in the past five years Traf­i­cant was a promi­nent and active fig­ure on the extreme right, appeal­ing both to anti-government extrem­ists of the “Patriot” move­ment as well as to white suprema­cists and anti-Semites.

The obit­u­ar­ies did, how­ever, allude to Traficant’s past crim­i­nal activ­i­ties that cul­mi­nated in a 2002 con­vic­tion on charges of rack­e­teer­ing, bribery, tax eva­sion and obstruc­tion of jus­tice.  Traf­i­cant received an 8-year prison sen­tence and became one of the few rep­re­sen­ta­tives ever expelled from Congress.

Accord­ing to one obit­u­ary, after his release from prison, Traf­i­cant “lived a quiet life on his farm.”  In real­ity, how­ever, he was far from quiet. He was a reg­u­lar colum­nist for the Amer­i­can Free Press (AFP), a conspiracy-oriented anti-Semitic news­pa­per, attended extrem­ist events, and expressed anti-Semitic views. Traficant’s alliance with the extreme right began years earlier.

Traf­i­cant was a Demo­c­rat but by the 1990s had become pop­u­lar among the extreme right.   His strong sup­port of Nazi war crim­i­nal John Dem­jan­juk drew the approval of white suprema­cists and anti-Semites.  Later, dur­ing his trial, Traf­i­cant sought to remove Jew­ish jurors, say­ing that “I have con­cern about cer­tain polit­i­cal and reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions who have tar­geted me.”

Anti-government extrem­ists liked his grow­ing anti-government rhetoric, par­tic­u­larly in the late 1990s as his own crim­i­nal trou­bles inten­si­fied.  Traf­i­cant repeat­edly invoked the stand­offs at Ruby Ridge and Waco, called Attor­ney Gen­eral Janet Reno a “trai­tor,” attacked the Fed­eral Reserve, and stated that “we have a fed­eral gov­ern­ment that Amer­i­cans fear.”

Dur­ing his trial and impris­on­ment, white suprema­cists such as David Duke spoke out on his behalf and urged peo­ple to send him money.  In par­tic­u­lar, Traf­i­cant devel­oped a close rela­tion­ship with AFP, pub­lished by Willis Carto, one of the lead­ing Amer­i­can anti-Semites.  AFP vocally sup­ported Traf­i­cant, while one of its writ­ers even wrote a book about the for­mer Congressman.

After Traficant’s 2009 release, the rela­tion­ship became closer.  AFP announced an “appre­ci­a­tion din­ner” for him, while Traf­i­cant even became a colum­nist for the anti-Semitic publication—which he con­tin­ued until his death.  In his columns, as well as else­where, Traf­i­cant railed against Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions like the American-Israeli Pub­lic Affairs Com­mit­tee and accused Israel of con­trol­ling the Amer­i­can media, the Amer­i­can econ­omy, and both houses of Con­gress.  Traf­i­cant appeared as a speaker at AFP events, some of which were orga­nized around him, such as a 2010 “Town Hall” with Traf­i­cant in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Dur­ing these years, Traf­i­cant also spoke at other extrem­ist events.  He spoke sev­eral times at “Free­dom Palooza,” an annual event in east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia run by Paul Topete, a long time anti-government extrem­ist and anti-Semite, which attracted anti-government extrem­ists and white suprema­cists.  At one such event, accord­ing to a white suprema­cist who attended, Traf­i­cant allegedly dis­cussed the “Jew­ish dom­i­nance of the press, money sup­ply, New York and Hol­ly­wood.”  Traf­i­cant also spoke at events such as Con­spir­acy Con and the Free­dom Law School, the lat­ter a group asso­ci­ated with the anti-government extrem­ist tax protest movement.

Shortly before his death, Traf­i­cant and AFP had begun a new joint ven­ture, “Project Free­dom USA,” intended to be an effort by “grass­roots patriots…to end the finan­cial tyranny that is stran­gling our nation.”  Among other things, the project intended to abol­ish the Fed­eral Reserve and “our com­mu­nist, pro­gres­sive income tax.”

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September 24, 2014 13

ISIS Spokesman Blames Jews For Conflict & Calls For Lone-Wolf Attacks

A speech issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s pri­mary spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani on Sun­day calls for attacks against west­ern civil­ians and sol­diers world­wide and blames Jews for the inter­na­tional oppo­si­tion the ter­ror­ist group is facing.isis-obama-jews

High­light­ing the role that anti-Semitism con­tin­ues to play in ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda and ide­ol­ogy, in his speech Adnani sug­gests that Jews are the only rea­son ISIS is being con­fronted by U.S. mil­i­tary: “The jews! (sic) The jews! Save the jews! This is the rea­son they [the U.S.] came.” Adnani also calls Pres­i­dent Obama a “mule of the Jews,” a state­ment that was fur­ther pop­u­lar­ized by ISIS sup­port­ers on Twit­ter using the hash­tag #Obamamulejews.

Adnani sim­i­larly claims that Arab coun­tries includ­ing Egypt and Syria exist as “guard dogs of the jews (sic)” ensur­ing Israel’s secu­rity against their best interests.

Address­ing ISIS sup­port­ers world­wide, Adnani calls for lone wolf attacks against civil­ians: “If you can kill a dis­be­liev­ing Amer­i­can or Euro­pean – espe­cially the…French – or an Aus­tralian, or a Canadian…kill him in any man­ner or way how­ever it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s ver­dict. Kill the dis­be­liever whether he is civil­ian or military…”

He goes on to pro­vide exam­ples of how this may be done:

“If you are not able to find an IED or a bul­let, then sin­gle out the dis­be­liev­ing Amer­i­can, French­man, or any of his allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaugh­ter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poi­son him…. If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or busi­ness. Or destroy his crops.”

Some of these sug­ges­tions, includ­ing the use of cars for attacks, have pre­vi­ously been fea­tured in Inspire Mag­a­zine, an English-language ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine pro­duced by Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula.

This call for attacks has already been answered. On Mon­day, an Algeria-based extrem­ist group aligned with ISIS called Jund al-Khilafah kid­napped a French national, releas­ing a video warn­ing that France has 24 hours to stop its air attacks or he will be mur­dered. A por­tion of the speech was quoted in the video.

The speech was shared via Twit­ter in three lan­guages: Eng­lish, French and Hebrew. The Eng­lish and French lan­guages were likely cho­sen because the U.S. and France have been the two west­ern coun­tries to under­take airstrikes against ISIS. The Hebrew may reflect ISIS’s views, rein­forced by the speech, that Jews and Israel are also pri­mary ene­mies of the group. It also rein­forces alle­ga­tions in the speech that the U.S. and France are act­ing on behalf of Jews and Israel. This may be the first ISIS speech that was ini­tially released in Hebrew.

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September 22, 2014 0

ISIS-Related Arrest In Rochester Underscores Online Radicalization

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Mufid Elfgeeh

The online activ­ity of Mufid Elfgeeh, whose arrest for attempt­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port for ter­ror, attempt­ing to kill U.S. sol­diers, and pos­ses­sion of firearms and silencers was made pub­lic this week by the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, under­scores the cen­tral­ity of the Inter­net in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion and recruit­ment process.

Elfgeeh uti­lized mul­ti­ple online plat­forms includ­ing Twit­ter, Face­book, YouTube and the android appli­ca­tion What­sApp to try to raise money for for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and to recruit three other indi­vid­u­als to join for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions. His online activ­ity also inspired him to devise a plot to kill Shi’a Mus­lims and for­mer Amer­i­can ser­vice­men at home.

Social media enabled Elfgeeh to not only learn about the activ­i­ties of for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions through videos, tweets and other online pro­pa­ganda, but to also con­nect with appar­ent sup­port­ers of those orga­ni­za­tions, in par­tic­u­lar the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Elfgeeh sought dona­tions for ter­ror­ists in Syria through Twit­ter. Among his alleged tweets were requests that peo­ple donate a third of their salary or at least “#Five_thousand_dollars_from_every_household” to sup­port mil­i­tants in Syria. He also tweeted and retweeted state­ments of sup­port for var­i­ous ter­ror groups includ­ing, “al-Qa’ida said it loud and clear: we are fight­ing the Amer­i­can inva­sion and their hege­mony over the earth and the people.”

On Face­book, Elfgeeh was a mem­ber of at least two Arabic-language Face­book groups in which group mem­bers reg­u­larly post and share al Qaeda and ISIS pro­pa­ganda. His own Face­book pho­tos included sev­eral images from Al Bat­tar media, an offi­cial ISIS pro­pa­ganda wing.

Elfgeeh also allegedly used Face­book to com­mu­ni­cate with indi­vid­u­als he believed were mem­bers of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and with the indi­vid­u­als he was recruit­ing about plans to travel abroad to join ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions.

In his recruit­ing, he ini­tially sug­gested Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) and Al Shabaab as pos­si­ble des­ti­na­tions, and later focused on ISIS. Notably, AQAP, Al Shabaab and ISIS are all ter­ror­ist groups that have become highly adept at dis­trib­ut­ing exten­sive English-language pro­pa­ganda.

On April 22 2014, he allegedly posted a mes­sage on Face­book attempt­ing to gain con­nec­tions in ISIS, stat­ing, “Who­ever knows a brother from ISIS who is able to com­mu­ni­cate well in Eng­lish, can com­mu­ni­cate with me through the pri­vate, due to the impor­tance.” He also com­mu­ni­cated directly on Face­book with an indi­vid­ual he was recruit­ing to join ISIS (the indi­vid­ual was in fact an informant).

Elfgeeh was allegedly devel­op­ing a plot to com­mit mul­ti­ple mur­ders in the U.S. as well, appar­ently inspired by acts of ter­ror­ism around the world includ­ing Al Shabaab’s attack of the West­gate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya and, in par­tic­u­lar, by Mohammed Merah’s shoot­ings in France.

His inspi­ra­tion for this plot appar­ently came from watch­ing videos on YouTube. He allegedly explained that he had learned about Merah’s actions because, “[i]t’s in YouTube.” He also allegedly had watched a video that pro­vided jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and instruc­tions for his plot: The video, he stated, “tell[s] you what to do …it’s YouTube…they call them here…’individual wolf’ (an appar­ent ref­er­ence to lone wolf attacks).”

Elfgeeh is a 30-year-old nat­u­ral­ized Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. Orig­i­nally from Yemen, he resided in Rochester, NY prior to his arrest where he owned and oper­ated a store called Halal Mojo and Food­mart. He was arrested on May 31, 2014 and pleaded not guilty on Sep­tem­ber 18.

Elfgeeh is the sec­ond Amer­i­can arrested in 2014 for recruit­ing oth­ers to join for­eign ter­ror orga­ni­za­tions, fol­low­ing Rahatul Ashikim Khan of Round Rock, Texas, who was arrested in June.

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