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June 24, 2016 2

Law Enforcement: Standing in the Line of Fire

The recent attack on the les­bian, gay, bisex­ual and trans­gen­der (LGBT) com­mu­nity in Orlando that left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded is yet another exam­ple of law enforce­ment stand­ing in the line of fire in the fight against domes­tic extremism.

From 2009 to the present, at least 64 mem­bers of law enforce­ment have been shot by domes­tic extremists–including anti-government extrem­ists, white suprema­cists, domes­tic Mus­lim extrem­ists and oth­ers. Eigh­teen of those shoot­ings were fatal. Addi­tional offi­cers might have lost their lives had they not been wear­ing pro­tec­tive vests or, as in the case of the Orlando attack, a Kevlar helmet.

Since Jan­u­ary 2009, ADL has tracked 68 sep­a­rate inci­dents (includ­ing seven so far this year) in which shots have been fired between domes­tic extrem­ists and law enforce­ment in the United States. These inci­dents include sit­u­a­tions in which shots were exchanged between police and extrem­ists (shootouts), sit­u­a­tions in which extrem­ists have fired at police but police sub­dued the extrem­ists with­out hav­ing to return fire, and sit­u­a­tions in which offi­cers had to use their firearms to pro­tect them­selves against extremists.

The moti­va­tions that led the extrem­ists to vio­lence dur­ing these encoun­ters vary. Many were sim­ply try­ing to escape after police offi­cers caught them engaged in crim­i­nal behav­ior unre­lated to their extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy. For oth­ers the encounter with police became the cat­a­lyst for vio­lent ide­o­log­i­cal action. In some cases, vio­lence esca­lated to a “last stand” sit­u­a­tion in which the extremist(s) had to have known their actions would likely result in their own deaths. The most dis­turb­ing inci­dents, how­ever, are those (like the Orlando attack) in which the encounter occurred as police responded to and con­fronted extrem­ists who were in the midst of a directed and planned attack. TW-TargetsofAttacks

Fif­teen (22%) of the 68 extrem­ist encoun­ters with law enforce­ment were the result of direct attacks by the extrem­ists. In other words, these encoun­ters started purely due to the extremist’s ide­ol­ogy. In six of those cases, the extremist(s) con­ducted planned attacks on civilians–including the LGBT com­mu­nity in Florida, a Sikh tem­ple in Wis­con­sin, a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in Col­orado, and employ­ees of the Trans­porta­tion Secu­rity Admin­is­tra­tion at the Los Ange­les air­port. In seven cases, the ini­tial attack was directed at law enforce­ment, and resulted in the assas­si­na­tions of three offi­cers. In Jan­u­ary of this year, an addi­tional offi­cer mirac­u­lously sur­vived an assas­si­na­tion attempt in Philadel­phia. In the remain­ing two cases, extrem­ists attacked mem­bers of the U.S. military.

Since 2009, offi­cers have encoun­tered domes­tic extrem­ists in 28 dif­fer­ent states. Sev­eral states have expe­ri­enced mul­ti­ple inci­dents. Texas law enforce­ment has endured 10 of the 68 encoun­ters (nearly 15%). In four of the Texas cases, the extremist(s) were linked to the Aryan Broth­er­hood of Texas or the Aryan Cir­cle, demon­strat­ing the state’s par­tic­u­lar prob­lem with large white suprema­cist prison gangs. In fact, mem­bers of racist prison gangs were involved in three of the seven shoot­ing inci­dents which have already occurred this year—including encoun­ters in Texas, Alabama and Colorado.

Florida has with­stood the sec­ond high­est num­ber of inci­dents, reach­ing eight encoun­ters with the addi­tion of the Orlando attack. Col­orado offi­cials have faced five inci­dents, and suf­fered through the loss of Col­orado Springs Offi­cer Gar­rett Swasey. Swasey, the most recent law enforce­ment casu­alty at the hand of domes­tic extrem­ists, died in the line of duty dur­ing a mass shoot­ing by an anti-abortion extrem­ist in Novem­ber 2015 at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic.

Unfor­tu­nately ide­o­log­i­cal extrem­ists con­tinue to add to the dan­gers faced by law enforce­ment. An untold num­ber of lives were saved due to the efforts of the law enforce­ment offi­cers who con­fronted the 76 extrem­ists involved in these 68 inci­dents. These offi­cers put them­selves into dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions in order to pro­tect and serve the com­mu­ni­ties in which they live.

 

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June 23, 2016 0

13th U.S. Resident Linked to Islamic Extremism in 2016

Akram Musleh of Indiana, arrested for attempting to travel to join ISIS

Akram Musleh

Akram Musleh, an 18-year-old res­i­dent of Browns­burg, Indi­ana, was arrested on June 21 for attempt­ing to travel to join ISIS. Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Musleh had been engag­ing with ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda since at least 2013, when Musleh was a 15-year-old high school student.

Accord­ing to author­i­ties, the FBI first came into con­tact with Musleh after it was dis­cov­ered that he posted three videos of Anwar al-Awlaki to YouTube in August 2013. Awlaki, an Amer­i­can cleric and English-language pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, was killed in a drone strike in 2011, but his speeches and quotes remain pop­u­lar among extrem­ist indi­vid­u­als and those rad­i­cal­iz­ing today. Indeed, the major­ity of U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism since 2011 have allegedly down­loaded mate­r­ial cre­ated by Awlaki or shared his speeches and state­ments on social media.

Upon find­ing the Awlaki speeches, court doc­u­ments indi­cate that the FBI met with offi­cials at Musleh’s high school, and coor­di­nated with them to dis­cour­age Musleh from radicalizing.

Follow-up took place at Musleh’s school. It is unclear whether any mea­sures could have been effec­tive in Musleh’s case; he had allegedly obtained infor­ma­tion on Awlaki from a fam­ily mem­ber, and so appar­ently had at least one close per­sonal con­tact encour­ag­ing his rad­i­cal­iza­tion. In any event, the mea­sures unfor­tu­nately failed.

In April 2014, court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Musleh asked minors at a park if they wanted to join ISIS. In 2015, Musleh allegedly made mul­ti­ple attempts to travel to Turkey or Iraq, areas adja­cent to ISIS-controlled ter­ri­tory that are often used ini­tially as des­ti­na­tions for indi­vid­u­als attempt­ing to join the group. In 2016, he allegedly researched attack tar­gets and explo­sive mate­ri­als, and then tried again to travel to join ISIS, this time in Libya, where the group has an active fac­tion. He was arrested en route from Indi­ana to New York, where he allegedly intended to catch a plane from John F. Kennedy Inter­na­tional Airport.

Musleh is not the only U.S. res­i­dent to rad­i­cal­ize while still in high school. In 2015, 4 minors in the U.S. were linked to activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy. They are among a total of 25 U.S. res­i­dents aged 21 or younger linked to such activ­ity that year. Seven U.S. teenagers were linked to activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2014.

In recog­ni­tion of this dis­turb­ing trend, ADL has released a series of resources for edu­ca­tors and school admin­is­tra­tors that pro­vide back­ground infor­ma­tion about extrem­ism and mass vio­lence among school-aged indi­vid­u­als and mate­ri­als for cre­at­ing resilience among their stu­dents. Among the mate­ri­als pro­vided is a back­ground report on mass vio­lence and extrem­ism geared specif­i­cally to edu­ca­tors and pro­duced in coop­er­a­tion with START, the National Con­sor­tium for the Study of Ter­ror­ism and Response to Ter­ror­ism, at the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land. This back­grounder pro­vides infor­ma­tion about pre­cur­sors to vio­lent activ­ity and estab­lish­ing appro­pri­ate sup­port and refer­ral net­works. A sec­ond resource is a unique les­son plan focused on enabling stu­dents to rec­og­nize pro­pa­ganda if and when they encounter it and to become more dis­crim­i­nat­ing con­sumers of online mate­ri­als. Par­al­lel resources for par­ents are avail­able as well.

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June 16, 2016 1

Bigots Express Hateful Rhetoric After Orlando Attack

In the wake of the bru­tal ter­ror­ist attack by Omar Mateen that killed 49 mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity and wounded 53 oth­ers at a gay night­club in Orlando, com­mu­ni­ties held vig­ils across the coun­try to express sol­i­dar­ity with the vic­tims. In marked con­trast to the love and sup­port shown by peo­ple around the world, haters voiced anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT sen­ti­ment and pro­moted anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries in the after­math of the event.

Not sur­pris­ingly, big­ots and extrem­ists used the mas­sacre in Orlando to demo­nize Mus­lims and Jews and to assert that the LGBT com­mu­nity got what it deserved because of their lifestyle. The sen­ti­ments they expressed demon­strate that these haters will exploit any tragedy to pro­mote their ideology.

Anti-Muslim activism

Over the past year, anti-Muslim activism has been on the rise across the United States. The Orlando attack has pro­vided a boost to such hate­ful sen­ti­ment and big­oted rhetoric.

  • Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller com­mented on the Orlando attack on her blog on June 12: “The media is call­ing it a hate crime. So it’s safe to assume Islam is a hate ideology.”
  • Robert Spencer, direc­tor of the anti-Muslim web­site Jihad Watch, wrote an arti­cle on the site about the ter­ror­ist who car­ried out the Orlando attack: “He was a devout adher­ent of a reli­gion that man­dates death for homo­sex­u­als, and the son of a man who sup­ports a group that puts gays to death (even as homo­sex­ual behav­ior is ram­pant in Afghanistan).”
  • A self-claimed ex-terrorist who is now a Chris­t­ian con­vert and an extrem­ist anti-Muslim activist, Walid Shoe­bat, used the Orlando attack as an oppor­tu­nity to renew his sup­port for calls to ban Mus­lims from enter­ing the U.S.  He wrote on his offi­cial web­site on June 12, “First of all it is 100% impos­si­ble to screen Mus­lims to weed out the ter­ror­ists.… Any­one who thinks that the U.S. or Europe are prop­erly vet­ting or can vet these ter­ror­ists [is] dream­ing. They can­not even mon­i­tor a few ter­ror­ists.”  He con­cluded his state­ment: “What more can we do? In a nut­shell, all you west­ern­ers, unless you com­pletely ban Islam, your’e [sic] screwed.”
  • Over social media plat­forms, some have cheered what they con­sid­ered proof that pre­vi­ous calls to ban Mus­lim immi­gra­tion to the U.S. were wise and “spot-on,” attack­ing at the same time what they described as a pol­icy to “import more Mus­lims.” Other anti-Muslim state­ments over social media recy­cled old claims about the inher­ently vio­lent nature of Islam, and the threat of not using the words “rad­i­cal Islamic ter­ror­ism” in the con­text of describ­ing such ter­ror­ist attacks.

Anti-LGBTQ hatred

While the LGBT and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties banded together to pro­mote tol­er­ance over hatred, extrem­ists, includ­ing two pas­tors who are close asso­ciates, pro­moted a vir­u­lent strain of homo­pho­bia. Neo-Nazis also expressed con­tempt for the LGBT com­mu­nity, with some cel­e­brat­ing the ter­ror­ist attack.

Anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic tweet on Orlando attack

Anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic tweet about Orlando attack

  • Steven Ander­son, a pas­tor in Tempe, Ari­zona, who is known for his hatred of the LGBT com­mu­nity as well as Jews, gave a ser­mon cel­e­brat­ing the mur­der of gay peo­ple. He said: “The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homo­sex­u­als are a bunch of dis­gust­ing per­verts and pedophiles.” He asserted that “they should have been killed through the proper chan­nels as in they should have been exe­cuted by a right­eous gov­ern­ment that would have tried them, con­victed them, and saw them executed.”
  • Roger Jimenez, a pas­tor of a church in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia and an asso­ciate of Anderson’s, voiced sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments. He posed the rhetor­i­cal ques­tion, “Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” He answered, “Um, no. I think that’s great. I think that helps soci­ety.” He added that “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is—I’m kind of upset that he didn’t fin­ish the job.” He con­tin­ued, “I wish the gov­ern­ment would round them all up, put them against a fir­ing wall, put a fir­ing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out.”
  • On his neo-Nazi web­site Infos­tormer, Lee Rogers wrote, “I find your dis­eased lifestyles dis­gust­ing and toxic to the body politic.” He added that if the LGBT com­mu­nity “choses to fol­low The Don [a ref­er­ence to Don­ald Trump]… we will not openly attack you or slaugh­ter you. Your rights to defile our mar­riage cer­e­monies and push your agenda will of course be rescinded, and there will no longer be pride parades fea­tur­ing mas­sive dil­dos on Amer­i­can streets.”
  • In an early response to the shoot­ing, a poster on the neo-Nazi forum Van­guard News Net­work said that Mateen “offed 20 of the most degen­er­ate pieces of excre­ment on the face of the earth, and if he gets vir­gins in par­adise, as far as I’m con­cerned, he earned them.”
  • Oth­ers on social media, in par­tic­u­lar Twit­ter, used the pejo­ra­tive term “homo­caust” to describe the mas­sacre in Orlando.

Anti-Semitic con­spir­acy theories

Fringe anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rists rarely miss an oppor­tu­nity to exploit tragedies to pro­mote their hatred of Jews, as they did blam­ing Jews for events rang­ing from coor­di­nated ter­ror attacks across Paris in Novem­ber 2015 to the Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School mas­sacre in Decem­ber 2012 to the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks.

Tweet promoting anti-Semitic conspiracies in response to Orlando attack

Tweet pro­mot­ing anti-Semitic con­spir­a­cies in response to Orlando attack

  • In this lat­est round of blam­ing Jews for all that is wrong with the world, David Duke, the for­mer Klan leader, posted a video on YouTube titled “The Orlando Ter­ror and the Dark Side of Diver­sity.” In this video, Duke invokes anti-Semitic the­o­ries about Jew­ish con­trol and sup­pos­edly evil Jew­ish inten­tions stat­ing, “…the pow­er­ful Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions have led the push for open bor­ders.” He added, “…the takeover of Amer­i­can elite media, pol­i­tics, and bank­ing has directly led to the poli­cies of eth­nic cleans­ing in the coun­try our fore­fa­thers cre­ated and they lit­er­ally brag about this.” Duke blames the Jews and oth­ers for what he describes as the “the eth­nic cleans­ing of Amer­ica, Europe, and every West­ern Nation” and calls on “every white nation” to “rise up and defend West­ern Chris­t­ian civilization.”
  •  Addi­tion­ally, Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, pub­lished a num­ber of arti­cles blam­ing Israel or Jews for the Orlando shooting:

 –In an arti­cle titled “MK-Ultra Triple Play in Orlando,” Vet­er­ans Today colum­nist Pre­ston James tries to place the Orlando shoot­ing into a larger Jew­ish con­spir­acy. He wrote, “[I]t is rea­son­able to view this Orlando shoot­ing as a pos­si­ble joint Mossad/CIA Gladio-style, inside-job, false-flag “triple-play” op designed to help moti­vate the Amer­i­can masses to col­lect the guns, accept polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and homo­sex­u­al­ity as the pre­ferred norm, and to fur­ther moti­vate Amer­i­cans to sup­port deploy­ing our war machine to fight more wars for Israel and the KM (Roth­schild Zion­ist Banksters).”

–In “Orlando Shoot­ing: Why Israel Availed the Vicious Cir­cle of Ter­ror­ism?” Saj­jad Shaukat claims that Israel is behind a num­ber of attacks in coop­er­a­tion with “the Zionist-Israeli-led Amer­ica” in order to stir up hatred against Mus­lims. Shaukat writes: “And most probably…Mossad might have arranged this mas­sive shooting…to divert the atten­tion of Amer­i­can pub­lic from inter­nal prob­lems, pro­longed war on ter­ror etc., and espe­cially to avoid the solu­tion of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV, wrote a Vet­er­ans Today arti­cle titled “Orlando Nigh­club Shoot­ing Another False Flag?” In this arti­cle, Bar­rett places Israel at the cen­ter of “the long list of false flags that cre­ated [the Orlando shoot­ing], claim­ing that “Zion­ists have been pan­ick­ing, fear­ing that Obama is going to…officially estab­lish the State of Palestine…The usual sus­pects may have responded with a mas­sive pub­lic­ity stu­dent in Orlando designed to make us for­get Muham­mad Ali [who Bar­rett describes as a pos­i­tive Mus­lim role model] and make it much harder, if not impos­si­ble, for Obama to force the Israelis to with­draw from the ter­ri­tory they stole in 1967.”

  • Some social media users responded by post­ing vehe­mently anti-Semitic mes­sages on Twit­ter, mak­ing accu­sa­tions sim­i­lar to those of Duke or Vet­er­ans Today, either blam­ing Jews them­selves for per­pe­trat­ing the attacks or Jew­ish con­trol of a num­ber of sec­tors in the U.S. for inspir­ing the attacks.

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