Extremism & Terrorism » ADL Blogs
April 2, 2015 0

NY Arrests Put Spotlight on Female Islamic Extremists

Update — 4/6/15: Another woman, Keonna Thomas of Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia, was charged on April 3, 2015 with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Two Brook­lyn women arrested today on charges of con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass destruc­tion are the 11th and 12th U.S. women linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism since 2014. Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, but their num­bers have dra­mat­i­cally increased since 2014: ADL has doc­u­mented 12 female U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism in the last 15 months – the same as the total num­ber of women in the 11 years between 2002 and 2013.

A poem by Asia Siddiqui published in the extremist magazine Jihad Recollections

A poem by Asia Sid­diqui in the extrem­ist mag­a­zine Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions

Noelle Velentzas, a 28-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Asia Sid­diqui, a 31-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Velentzas’s for­mer room­mate, allegedly researched how to make explo­sive devices and pur­chased the mate­ri­als nec­es­sary to do so. Although court doc­u­ments do not indi­cate that they had cho­sen a tar­get, they expressed a pref­er­ence for attack­ing law enforce­ment and U.S. gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary facilities.

The two made clear that they were moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas praised the 9/11 attacks and repeat­edly stated that her heroes are Osama bin Laden and his men­tor, Abdul­lah Azzam.

More­over, Velentzas and Sid­diqui have an exten­sive his­tory of engag­ing with rad­i­cal extrem­ism online. In 2006, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Sid­diqui “became close with Samir Khan,” who went on to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) and, together with AQAP pro­pa­gan­dist Anwar al-Awlaki, founded Inspire mag­a­zine, the group’s pri­mary English-language mag­a­zine. In 2009, Sid­diqui wrote a poem that was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions, an ear­lier mag­a­zine that Khan produced.

Extrem­ist mag­a­zines includ­ing Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and Inspire have actively encour­aged sub­mis­sions from read­ers in the hope that hav­ing their work pub­lished will lead the read­ers to become fur­ther entrenched in the extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tion. Sid­diqui her­self allegedly expressed sup­port for Mohamed Osman Mohamud, another Amer­i­can who was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and who went on to attempt a domes­tic attack – in his case, the attempted bomb­ing of the Port­land, OR Christ­mas tree light­ing cer­e­mony in 2010.

Other Amer­i­cans that have writ­ten for Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions include Younes Abdul­lah Muham­mad (aka Jesse Cur­tis Mor­ton), a co-founder of now-defunct extrem­ist group Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim. Muham­mad is cur­rently in prison, hav­ing pleaded guilty to threat­en­ing the cre­ators of South Park.

Sid­diqui and Velentzas also appeared to have been inspired by other domes­tic attacks, includ­ing the Boston Marathon bomb­ing.

Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Sid­diqui told an under­cover infor­mant “Velentzas has been obsessed with pres­sure cook­ers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013 and often makes com­ments about pres­sure cook­ers,” and Velentzas told the infor­mant that “she had recently received a pres­sure cooker as a present, and joked about cook­ing some­thing in the pres­sure cooker, then laughed and added, ‘food,’ – a ref­er­ence to explo­sive materials.”

Image from an article on making car bombs in the  Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Image from an arti­cle on mak­ing car bombs in the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Like the Tsar­naev broth­ers, who are accused of hav­ing per­pe­trated the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, Sid­diqui and Velentzas attempted to learn how to make bombs from Inspire mag­a­zine. Refer­ring to the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire that pro­vided instruc­tions for the con­struc­tion and place­ment of car bombs, Velentzas allegedly stated that “Inspire mag­a­zine was useful…to learn how to ‘valet’ his/her car and how to cook ‘food.’” She reg­u­larly used the word “food” as a euphemism for explosives.

The two also allegedly watched ISIS pro­pa­ganda videos online, includ­ing behead­ing and recruit­ment videos, and expressed affin­ity for ISIS. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas stated that she wanted them to be referred to as “cit­i­zens of the Islamic State,” and “that attacks on ISIS were tan­ta­mount to attacks on her own state.”

Velentzas was also report­edly friends on Face­book with Tairod Pugh, a New Jer­sey man arrested in March for attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Sev­en­teen U.S. res­i­dents in total have been arrested on Islamic extrem­ism moti­vated ter­ror charges in 2015, 6 of whom were from New York State. If arrests con­tinue at the cur­rent rate, it will reflect a marked increase of arrests over the last three years, cor­re­spond­ing to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its aggres­sive recruit­ment and pro­pa­ganda campaigns.

Twenty-five U.S. res­i­dents in total were linked to Islamic extrem­ism in 2014, and 14 in 2013, although sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of indi­vid­u­als not iden­ti­fied are believed to have trav­eled abroad to join ter­ror­ist groups.

This morning’s arrest also marked the fourth instance of a domes­tic attack plot in 2015. In Jan­u­ary, Ohio res­i­dent Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. Capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad and in Feb­ru­ary, New York City res­i­dents Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov were arrested for attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack if they were unable to do so, and in March, Hasan and Jonas Edmonds were arrested for allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS and plot­ting an attack against a mil­i­tary base.

Notably, there were no known domes­tic plots in 2014; the cur­rent increase may be related to an increase in ISIS pro­pa­ganda encour­ag­ing such attacks.

Thirty-five U.S. res­i­dents have been pub­licly linked to or cited inspi­ra­tion from ISIS since 2014.

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March 31, 2015 1

Rival Hackers Overcome Differences For Anti-Israel Cyber Campaign

Update — 4/2/15: For more infor­ma­tion on OpIs­rael, please see Hack­ers Directly Threaten Indi­vid­ual Israeli Cit­i­zens.

What has become an annual cyber cam­paign against Israel, “OpIs­rael” – which coin­cided with Holo­caust Remem­brance Day in pre­vi­ous years – is once again tak­ing place this year; this time, by a broader coali­tion of hack­ers than ever before.AnonGhost OpIsrael 2015

In light of the uptick in attacks against Jew­ish insti­tu­tional web­sites in the U.S. by inter­na­tional hack­ing groups over the past few years, both Israeli and Jew­ish web­sites world­wide are expected to be tar­gets of the cyber campaign.

In 2014, “OpIs­rael” was pri­mar­ily led by an Arab sub-division of Anony­mous, which called for a cyber-attack against Israel on Holo­caust Remem­brance Day, threat­ening to launch “elec­tronic attacks against as many Israeli web­sites as pos­si­ble.” The group also threat­ened Israeli cit­i­zens: “Your credit cards, your bank accounts, your servers … are ALL in a dan­ger!” In 2013, the group called for a sim­i­lar cam­paign timed with Holo­caust Remem­brance Day to “wipe Israel off the Inter­net.”

This year, the Arab sub-division of Anony­mous, in one of the videos it posted on YouTube, described “OpIs­rael,” as an “Elec­tronic Holocaust.”

There are strong indi­ca­tions, how­ever, that AnonG­host, a promi­nent hacker group known for tar­get­ing Jew­ish and Amer­i­can web­sites, is seek­ing to replace Anony­mous in spear­head­ing “OpIsrael.”

For exam­ple, ear­lier this month, AnonG­host launched and pro­moted soft­ware enabling users to con­duct cyber-attacks against Israeli (and other) tar­gets. The soft­ware appears to enable users to ini­ti­ate denial of ser­vice (DOS) attacks. AnonG­host has already claimed respon­si­bil­ity for the hack­ing of sev­eral Israeli web­sites in the past week in the lead up to “OpIsrael.”

On March 31, AnonG­host mem­bers claimed that they started mes­sag­ing Israeli cit­i­zens with warn­ings about OpIs­rael. The threat­en­ing mes­sages included an image of an ISIS fighter with the cap­tion, “We are com­ing O Jews to kill you.” Under the image, AnonG­host mem­bers intro­duce them­selves and ask the recip­i­ents to deliver the warn­ing to the Israeli government.

An image of the threatening message sent to Israeli citizens featuring an ISIS fighter

An image of the threat­en­ing mes­sage sent to Israeli cit­i­zens fea­tur­ing an ISIS fighter

By inject­ing itself into “OpIs­rael,” AnonG­host may take the cam­paign into a more extreme direc­tion. For exam­ple, AnonG­host has been unam­bigu­ous about sup­port­ing ISIS and has car­ried out hacks on its behalf. This activ­ity dif­fers from the Anony­mous col­lec­tive, which has launched cyber-campaigns to counter ISIS’ online pres­ence. In Jan­u­ary 2015, for exam­ple, they­launched a cam­paign against Jihadist web­sites titled OpChar­lieHebdo in response to ter­ror­ist attacks in France.

There are indi­ca­tions that AnonG­host and the broader Anony­mous col­lec­tive have even engaged in a cyber-conflict against each other; Mau­ri­ta­nia Attacker, the osten­si­ble leader of AnonG­host, claims to have hacked a group of Anony­mous mem­bers known as “Anony­mous Squad No.035,” the Ser­bian sub-division of Anonymous.Anonymous OpIsrael 2015

The appar­ent con­flict between AnonG­host and the Anony­mous col­lec­tive, how­ever, does not seem to have pre­vented them both from par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s “OpIs­rael.” Oppo­si­tion to Israel seems to be a com­mon cause.

It is impor­tant to note that ADL is cur­rently unaware of any spe­cific cyber threat to the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­nity. Nev­er­the­less, we are urg­ing Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties to revisit and reassess their cyber-security plans, mea­sures, and procedures.

Related Infor­ma­tion:

ADL Alerts U.S. Syn­a­gogues to Pro­tect Against Online Hackers

ISIS Estab­lishes A Cyber-Alliance With Anti-Israel Hackers

Hack­ers Post Anti-Semitism On U.S. Uni­ver­si­ties’ Websites

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March 30, 2015 326

White Supremacists Protest Against Purported “White Genocide”

White suprema­cists in loca­tions across the United States recently took part in demon­stra­tions, leaflet­ings, and indi­vid­ual acts of protest to pro­mote an increas­ingly pop­u­lar con­cept within the white supremacy move­ment: the notion of “white genocide.”

Doggett at Starbucks

Doggett at Starbucks

The Anti-Defamation League tracked inci­dents in at least 11 states, includ­ing Alabama, Arkansas, Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia, Ken­tucky, New Jer­sey, North Car­olina, North Dakota, Ten­nessee, Texas, and Vir­ginia. Activ­i­ties also occurred in other coun­tries, includ­ing Aus­tralia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hun­gary, and New Zealand.

All actions took place on March 21, 2015, a date white suprema­cists have for sev­eral years declared to be “White Pride World Wide Day.” Described as part of the “March against White Geno­cide,” the actions were orga­nized and pro­moted by Fight Wide Geno­cide, a self-described “col­lec­tive of…activism” led by white suprema­cist Laura Fitzger­ald, who is based in the Colum­bia, South Car­olina, area.

The term “white geno­cide” is a rel­a­tively recent phrase coined by white suprema­cists to describe one of their long-held con­vic­tions: that the white race is “dying” due to non-white immi­gra­tion and “forced assim­i­la­tion.” White suprema­cists com­monly claim that Jews are behind this “geno­ci­dal” action.

Fitzger­ald, the cam­paign orga­nizer, is a dis­ci­ple of Robert Whitaker, an elderly guru in the white suprema­cist move­ment. His fol­low­ers have coined what they term the “Stop White Geno­cide Mantra.” Fitzger­ald encour­aged white suprema­cists to par­tic­i­pate through demon­stra­tions, post­ing “#WhiteGeno­cide” stick­ers in pub­lic loca­tions, hold­ing up ban­ners at high-traffic loca­tions, or hand­ing out literature.

A few white suprema­cists even tried to exploit Star­bucks’ recent “Race Together” diver­sity cam­paign. Ron Doggett, a long­time white suprema­cist based in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, and sev­eral oth­ers demon­strated out­side a local Star­bucks, hold­ing up a “Diver­sity = White Geno­cide” ban­ner and other white suprema­cist signs and plac­ards. Doggett is a for­mer sup­porter of David Duke, as well as Fra­zier Glenn Miller, the sus­pect in the 2014 fatal shoot­ings of three peo­ple at Jew­ish insti­tu­tions in Over­land Park, Kansas.

Another white suprema­cist posted on-line a photo of a cup of Star­bucks cof­fee with “‘Race Together’ is a code word for WHITE GENOCIDE” writ­ten on the sleeve.

Most demon­stra­tions and actions were small in scope. The largest occurred in Flo­rence, Ken­tucky, where 10–15 white suprema­cists led by neo-Nazi Robert Rans­dell car­ried a “‘Diver­sity’ = White Geno­cide” ban­ner and waved white suprema­cist flags and placards.

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