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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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September 22, 2014 2

Ferguson = Gaza: The Continued Invocation Of A False Comparison

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Vigil for Gaza at the Col­lege of Staten Island

While Gaza and Fer­gu­son no longer dom­i­nate the head­lines, these unre­lated events con­tinue to be con­nected by a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

In addi­tion to pre­vi­ously reported exam­ples, more recent anti-Israel events con­tinue to link the con­flict in Gaza to the Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri shoot­ing and its after­math, couch­ing hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support.

Recent exam­ples of anti-Israel events that draw par­al­lels between Fer­gu­son and Gaza include:

  • Exis­tence is Resis­tance and the Cam­paign to Bring Mumia Home are adver­tis­ing an event sched­uled for Octo­ber 11 at the Mal­colm X and Betty Shabazz Cen­ter in north­ern Man­hat­tan to address “the global sys­tems that oppress us, from Fer­gu­son to Gaza.” The event will fea­ture speak­ers such as Remi Kanazi, an orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (USACBI).
  • A panel dis­cus­sion titled “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine: Con­nect­ing Strug­gles” is sched­uled to take place at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas-Austin on Sep­tem­ber 24 accord­ing to the event’s Face­book page. The event, spon­sored by the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee, will fea­ture at least two UT-Austin professors.
  • The City Uni­ver­sity of New York (CUNY) Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter is host­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter titled “CUNY Stands for Jus­tice: From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine” on Sep­tem­ber 22 fea­tur­ing “an evening of poetry, speak­ers, and dis­cus­sion around repres­sion and resis­tance from Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri to Gaza, Pales­tine,” accord­ing to event flyers.

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    SJP “die-in” at Brook­lyn College

  • The Col­lege of Staten Island SJP chap­ter hosted a vigil for Gaza on Sep­tem­ber 17 at which the group adver­tised on Face­book that it would “read the names of the lives lost, give speeches, and stand in sol­i­dar­ity from Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine…” The group also stated that it shares the anger of those in Fer­gu­son because “Pales­tini­ans know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”
  • Accord­ing to a post on an anti-Israel Face­book page, mem­bers of the Direct Action Front for Pales­tine attended protests in Fer­gu­son and spoke to peo­ple there about Gaza. On Sep­tem­ber 8, it held a meet­ing in Brook­lyn, New York to share what they “learned in Ferguson…to become more effec­tive in our resistance…”
  • Mem­bers of the Inter­na­tional Jew­ish Anti-Zionist Net­work (IJAN) protested out­side ADL’s San Fran­cisco office on Sep­tem­ber 3 with a ban­ner that read “From Oak­land to Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, The US and Israel, A Deadly com­bi­na­tion” and “Stop police brutality…Stop the ADL.” IJAN is a coali­tion formed in 2008 that seeks to facil­i­tate global anti-Israel activ­ity on the part of anti-Zionist Jews.
  • On Face­book, Brook­lyn Col­lege SJP adver­tised a Sep­tem­ber 2 “die-in” on the Brook­lyn Col­lege cam­pus to “raise aware­ness about israel’s [sic] lat­est mas­sacre” and to remem­ber “all the vic­tims of white supremacy and insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism in the U.S., the lat­est being #Mike­Brown and #EricGarner.”

Events link­ing Fer­gu­son and Gaza have also been orga­nized by some uni­ver­sity depart­ments. At UCLA, the Law School’s Crit­i­cal Race Stud­ies Depart­ment spon­sored a Sep­tem­ber 18 event called “From Gaza to Fer­gu­son,” which accord­ing to pub­lic­ity mate­ri­als, explored “the rela­tion­ship between race, the rise of mil­i­ta­rized polic­ing and the response to dis­sent in the United States and con­sider its impli­ca­tions in a global con­text.” The panel included Hedy Epstein, a Holo­caust sur­vivor who has com­pared the Israeli treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans to the Nazi treat­ment of Jews.

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September 18, 2014 16

Neo-Nazi Candidate To Air Anti-Semitic Radio Ads

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Robert Rans­dell

In late Sep­tem­ber, neo-Nazi Robert Rans­dell, a write-in can­di­date* for the U.S. Sen­ate in Ken­tucky, plans to pur­chase air time on a main­stream radio sta­tion in Cincin­nati for seven hour-long radio programs/political ads. The pro­grams, fea­tur­ing Ransdell’s anti-Semitic and racist views, are the cen­ter­piece of his cam­paign whose slo­gan is “With Jews We Lose.”

Rans­dell declared his can­di­dacy in May 2014 on two white suprema­cist Inter­net forums, Storm­front and Van­guard News Net­work. There, he also laid out his cam­paign strat­egy, which focused on the plans for the radio pro­grams. He wrote, “I will be tak­ing advan­tage of the rea­son­able access law which requires that reg­is­tered can­di­dates for fed­eral office are to be per­mit­ted time on the radio.” Other white suprema­cists have tried this tac­tic before but the most recent attempt by white suprema­cist Fra­zier Glenn Miller was thwarted in 2010 when the FCC said he was not a viable can­di­date and sta­tions did not have to air his ads.

In his cam­paign announce­ment, Rans­dell asserted that “these pro­grams will from start to fin­ish be open and frank dis­cus­sion about Jew­ish power and con­trol over our coun­try, the truth about the neg­a­tive effects of diver­sity and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, as well as the need for White peo­ple to start oppos­ing their ene­mies in a fash­ion where we can lib­er­ate our­selves from alien con­trol and not just com­plain about and observe con­di­tions get­ting worse.”

Rans­dell has been an activist in the white suprema­cist world since he became a mem­ber of the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA) in 2006. He led the now-defunct Cincin­nati unit of the NA, once the largest neo-Nazi group in the coun­try. Under the lead­er­ship of Erich Gliebe, who took over the NA in 2002, the group lost most of its sup­port­ers and ceased func­tion­ing as a mem­ber­ship organization.

In Octo­ber 2012, Rans­dell broke from the NA and went on to become a key player in the National Alliance Reform & Restora­tion Group (NARRG) a group opposed to Gliebe. NAARG cur­rently has a law­suit pend­ing against Gliebe due to his alleged mis­man­age­ment of the group and its assets.

While with the NA, Rans­dell orches­trated a num­ber of racist and anti-Semitic inci­dents. In April 2012, he posted fly­ers at the Uni­ver­sity of Cincin­nati offer­ing a $1000 reward to any per­son who could get Elie Wiesel to show the tat­too that he received at Auschwitz and prove that he was a Holo­caust sur­vivor.  Rans­dell has shown up at other events to pro­mote Holo­caust denial.

In 2011, Rans­dell dis­trib­uted racist fly­ers in Maineville, Ohio, in response to a black youth killing his white girl­friend. The fliers read “White par­ents, don’t let your daugh­ters date blacks, it might be a mat­ter of life and death.”  A few years ear­lier, he posted anti-Martin Luther King, Jr. fly­ers when a street was renamed after the civil rights leader in Cov­ing­ton, Kentucky.

*As a 501c3 tax-exempt orga­ni­za­tion, ADL does not inter­vene in cam­paigns on behalf of or in oppo­si­tion to any can­di­date for office.

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