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May 26, 2015 3

Pervasive Anti-Semitism in Declassified Bin Laden Letters

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

In the newly declas­si­fied let­ters found in Osama bin Laden’s com­pound, ref­er­ences to Jews, Israel and Zion­ists demon­strate the per­va­sive­ness of anti-Semitism in Al Qaeda’s high­est ech­e­lons, as well as Al Qaeda’s inten­tional tar­get­ing of Jews and Jew­ish institutions.

The let­ters also demon­strate the extent to which Al Qaeda viewed anti-Semitism as a valu­able moti­vat­ing fac­tor for ter­ror­ism: Ref­er­ences to Jews were far more fre­quent in pro­pa­ganda pieces and in items dis­cussing plans for pro­pa­ganda than in strate­gic memos or other letters.

Sev­eral of the let­ters directly dis­cuss tar­get­ing Jews. One sec­tion of a memo on exter­nal oper­a­tions reads, “In regards to targeting…the Jews as per the orders,” and details the pri­or­i­ti­za­tion of attacks against Jews.  Another doc­u­ment high­lights “the beau­ti­ful huge bomb­ing… of the west­ern Ger­man bak­ery mainly vis­ited by Jews and west­ern nation­als,” and a third doc­u­ment, addressed to the Syr­ian peo­ple, states, “If you want to resist, as you claim, we chal­lenge you and your party to shoot one bul­let against the Jews! So show us the Jews as your targets…”

Some of the doc­u­ments also direct praise at other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions for their attacks against Jews. One memo sum­ma­riz­ing the mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan and Pak­istan high­lights the Al Qaeda affil­i­ated Abdal­lah Azzam Brigades, call­ing the group, “a small group of broth­ers in Lebanon who fired rock­ets against the Jews once, twice, or more….May God greatly reward them.”

As noted, this tar­get­ing and gen­eral use of anti-Semitism occurs with far greater fre­quency and vit­riol in pro­pa­ganda. One pro­pa­ganda piece released states that the fight­ers were not exhausted in, “bat­tles with the poo­dles of Amer­ica and Israel … or the many other Jews shoe lickers…They refused to be fooled into tack­ling the ser­vants, while the com­man­der in chief and pro­tec­tor of infi­delity, Zion­ism and evil.”

That same arti­cle later harangues, “filth of [the Amer­i­can and Euro­pean] Zion­ist cap­i­tal­ist mas­ters pro­duc­ing the money and man­power which their mas­ters uti­lize to seek to destroy Israel’s ene­mies and to rob the peo­ple of the globe of their minds, honor, land, resources, chastity, min­er­als, oil, and lives!!!” and urges fight­ers in, “this Jihad and holy strug­gle against Amer­ica, Israel and its friends’ Ziocrusade…”

Let­ters and memos dis­cussing pro­pa­ganda pieces clar­ify the inten­tion­al­ity of using anti-Semitism as a moti­va­tional tac­tic. One let­ter asks, “Did you think about issu­ing a state­ment to the nation to show sol­i­dar­ity with the peo­ple?… It should also say that the Jew­ish state is about to end, and so on.”

This use of anti-Semitism is also strate­gi­cally tar­geted. One memo notes that they should “avoid talk­ing about the Jews and Pales­tine when talk­ing to the Ger­mans,” because, “This sub­ject is very sen­si­tive in Germany.”

Image from Al Qaeda magazine

Al Qaeda’s English-language mag­a­zine Resur­gence adopted a long­stand­ing anti-Semitic stereo­type equat­ing Jews with inter­na­tional finance.

Many of the reg­u­lar, non-propaganda memos do not include any ref­er­ences to Jews, Zion­ists or Israel. Where they do, how­ever, they, too, demon­strate a per­va­sive anti-Semitism in Al Qaeda’s high­est ech­e­lons, cen­ter­ing on beliefs that Jews con­trol the West and are unnat­u­rally pow­er­ful. One let­ter, for exam­ple, claimed, “the Jews were able to con­trol world forces with these two sci­ences, soci­ol­ogy and psy­chol­ogy.” Another let­ter sug­gested that the Shi’a ter­ror­ist group Hezbol­lah (which has engaged in fight­ing with Israel) is con­trolled by Jews seek­ing to kill Sunni Mus­lims and another sug­gests that the Saudi royal fam­ily calls for  “blind obe­di­ence to the ruler, who sup­port Jews and Chris­tians.” Yet another crit­i­cizes “peo­ple whose man­ner­isms resem­ble those of the Jews…”

The con­spir­acy the­o­ries against Jews are also related to sev­eral of the books found in Bin Laden’s library, includ­ing the book Secrets of the Fed­eral Reserve by Eustace Mullins, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and Holo­caust denier.

There is also crit­i­cism of Israel and of Amer­i­can sup­port for Israel, which is reg­u­larly listed as one of sev­eral rea­sons for attack­ing the U.S. Sup­port for Jews is also listed as a ratio­nale for depos­ing of Arab gov­ern­ments. Ref­er­ences to “Zion­ists and Cru­saders” as the enemy are fre­quent and, although the name ‘Israel’ is some­times used in memos to name the state, ‘Jew’ is always used instead of ‘Israeli.’

In all 103 declas­si­fied doc­u­ments, the word ‘Jew’ comes up 36 times; Israel 16, and Zion­ist 6 ( This does not include com­pound words like Ziocru­sade or Qu’ranic quotes on unre­lated top­ics). The words ‘Quds’ and ‘Jerusalem’ are not referenced.

Anti-Semitism has been a cen­tral ele­ment of Al Qaeda’s ide­ol­ogy since the organization’s found­ing, and it is a reg­u­lar fea­ture in Al Qaeda pro­pa­ganda, includ­ing Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP’s) infa­mous English-language mag­a­zine, Inspire. Anti-Semitism is also reg­u­larly used to moti­vate adher­ents and encour­age recruits by many other ter­ror­ist groups, includ­ing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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April 24, 2015 14

Adam Gadahn, American Al Qaeda Spokesman, Reported Dead

Adam GadahnOn Thurs­day, the White House announced that Adam Gadahn, an Amer­i­can spokesman for Al Qaeda, was killed in a Jan­u­ary drone strike. Although less vis­i­ble in recent years, Gadahn was at the fore­front of cre­at­ing English-language ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda – an ini­tia­tive that has evolved into a sophis­ti­cated recruit­ment and rad­i­cal­iza­tion mechanism.

Gadahn’s death comes as English-language pro­pa­ganda released by ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions is influ­enc­ing an ever increas­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans to join extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions. As of this date, thirty-one peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. have been impli­cated in ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2015 alone, a sig­nif­i­cant increase from the total num­ber of arrests in 2014 and in 2013.

Later Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dists for Al Qaeda affil­i­ates, such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, founders of Inspire mag­a­zine who were killed in a drone strike in 2011, have become more influ­en­tial than Gadahn in extrem­ist cir­cles. And as online tech­nol­ogy has advanced, groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have dra­mat­i­cally increased the reach and influ­ence of English-language calls to violence.

Gadahn, how­ever, was not only the first Amer­i­can to incite extrem­ism on behalf of Al Qaeda, but pre­sum­ably until his death remained the pri­mary English-language spokesman for Al Qaeda’s Cen­tral organization.

Gadahn’s first pro­pa­ganda piece for Al Qaeda was an audio trans­la­tion of an Osama bin Laden speech. In 2004, he began to appear in videos using the nom de guerre Azzam Al-Amriki and to pro­mote attacks against the U.S.

In the ensu­ing years, he released mul­ti­ple videos that reflected his anti-Semitic and anti-Christian views and were marked by threats against Amer­ica and its allies.

Gadahn also called for lone-wolf attacks. In a 2011 video, he stated, “Amer­ica is absolutely awash with eas­ily obtain­able firearms” and that lis­ten­ers can “go down to a gun show at the local con­ven­tion cen­ter and come away with a fully auto­matic assault rifle with­out a back­ground check and most likely with­out hav­ing to show an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card.”  He con­cluded, “So what are you wait­ing for?”

Gadahn’s most recent video was released in May 2014. Like his pre­vi­ous state­ments, it fea­tured calls for attacks against the U.S. as well as anti-Semitic rhetoric and con­cluded with clips of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, fight­ing in Syria, and ter­ror­ism in Israel, includ­ing a brief video clip of Jews pray­ing at the West­ern Wall, Judaism’s holi­est site, fol­lowed by footage of an explosion.

Gadahn was also fea­tured in an inter­view in the March 2013 issue of Inspire mag­a­zine, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine. In it, he called on his fel­low pro­pa­gan­dists to “make every effort to reach out to Mus­lims both through new media like Face­book and Twit­ter as well as the tra­di­tional broad­cast and print media.” Gadahn also used the inter­view to call for attacks against “Amer­ica and its NATO part­ners, par­tic­u­larly France and Britain.”

Gadahn was born in Ore­gon in 1978 and grew up in Cal­i­for­nia. He con­verted to Islam as a teenager and allegedly grew rad­i­cal­ized shortly there­after. In the late 1990s, Gadahn trav­eled to Pak­istan and joined Al Qaeda.

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January 13, 2015 0

New ISIS Threat Campaign Capitalizes on Paris Attacks

Image from Twitter campaign

Image from Twit­ter campaign

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has launched a new cam­paign on Twit­ter call­ing for addi­tional home­grown attacks in West­ern coun­tries in the after­math of the attacks in Paris last week that killed 17.

The cam­paign, adver­tised with the hash­tag #Fight­forHim was espe­cially promi­nent on Twit­ter on Sun­day, when both offi­cial ISIS accounts and mul­ti­ple sup­porter accounts Tweeted images fea­tur­ing mes­sages to Mus­lims “liv­ing in the West” and quotes by Anwar al-Awlaki advo­cat­ing “the duty of killing those who insult our Prophet Muhammad.”

Awlaki was an Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula. He was killed in a drone strike in 2011 but his writ­ings and say­ings con­tinue to be a moti­va­tional force for extrem­ists, includ­ing the Kouachi broth­ers, who are believed to have been two of the three indi­vid­u­als who attacked the Char­lie Hebdo offices last week, and Amedy Coulibaly, believed to be one of the two indi­vid­u­als behind last week’s hostage inci­dent in a kosher gro­cery store in Paris.

At the same time, ISIS sup­port­ers are also con­tin­u­ing a cam­paign of hack­ing Jew­ish insti­tu­tional web­sites and, increas­ingly, sites that are affil­i­ated with gov­ern­ments, mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions, and other orga­ni­za­tions, replac­ing the orig­i­nal text on the site with anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist mes­sages. Mon­day after­noon, ISIS sup­port­ers claimed respon­si­bil­ity for hack­ing the social media accounts affil­i­ated with U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand.

One of the Tweets from the #Fight­forHim cam­paign fea­tures a red ban­ner image with the quote, “You are a Mus­lim? Liv­ing in the West? Being a city wolf is your task! For you are the only ones to do so! You are already ’cit­i­zens’, and no doubt you are the suit­able ones to be cho­sen for such a task. You are shar­ing the same land with them! The same busses and trains, the same neighborhoods!”

Sev­eral Tweets also fea­tured what appeared to be pages ready for inser­tion into an English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine that quoted Anwar al-Awlaki nar­rat­ing a story about a “Jew­ish leader and…very elo­quent poet” who wrote poems that spoke out against Muham­mad, after which he was killed. In the story, Muham­mad stated, “I am the Prophet of mercy and I am the prophet of war” and “he has harmed us and he has defamed us with his poetry, and none of you (Jews) would do this except we would deal with him with the sword!”

Image from Twitter campaign showing Anwar al-Awlaki

Image from Twit­ter cam­paign show­ing Anwar al-Awlaki

The three pages that make up this story are titled Char­lie, ref­er­enc­ing the mag­a­zine. In its sub­ject mat­ter, the story also can be read as sup­port­ing attacks on Jews more broadly.

These images and oth­ers were Tweeted directly from mul­ti­ple indi­vid­ual Twit­ter accounts. This may indi­cate that they were part of a coor­di­nated cam­paign run through the Dawn of Glad Tid­ings app, a Twit­ter appli­ca­tion that allows ISIS to Tweet directly onto users’ pages, thus rapidly and widely dis­sem­i­nat­ing pro­pa­ganda and enabling effec­tive hash­tag cam­paigns. Some of the images were Tweeted from between 80 and 100 accounts in minutes.

The cam­paign was sup­ple­mented by an essay writ­ten by an ISIS sup­porter that urged attacks in West­ern coun­tries and pro­vided sug­ges­tions for car­ry­ing them out.

The essay cites Inspire mag­a­zine, Anwar al-Awlaki, Osama bin Laden and ISIS as sources for inspi­ra­tion and lists mul­ti­ple cities, states, and coun­tries that can be attacked, includ­ing mul­ti­ple loca­tions in the U.S.

“Until life in Nor­way, Florida, Mon­treal, Fin­land, Lis­bon, Lux­em­bourg and Can­berra becomes…a land that burns, a sky that rains rock­ets, and cities through which wolves walk, the lions of jihad, and where breaths are con­ceal (sic) until they taste our sever­ity” it states. The essay later threat­ens addi­tional attacks includ­ing San Fran­cisco, Bel­gium, Lon­don, Madrid, Syd­ney, Rus­sia, Boston, Dal­las, Vir­ginia and Ams­ter­dam with explo­sive devices, booby traps and poison.

This essay was picked up and cir­cu­lated by offi­cial ISIS media out­lets fol­low­ing its post­ing on Justpate.it, an online pub­lish­ing site reg­u­larly used by ter­ror­ist sup­port­ers to quickly and anony­mously post text and images online.

Although the #fight­forHim hash­tag is new, calls by ter­ror­ist groups for home­grown attacks have a lengthy his­tory. In the past year, ISIS, Al Qaeda, AQAP and Al Shabaab have all called for such attacks. In the wake of the attacks in France, addi­tional groups includ­ing the Pak­istani Tal­iban, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Moura­bitoun have also called for copy­cat attacks.

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