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November 4, 2015 Off

Terrorist Videos Threatening Israel And US Continue Unabated

The new Al Qaeda message threatening Israel with Ayman al-Zawahiri

Image from the new Al Qaeda message

As vio­lence has con­tin­ued in Israel, pro­pa­ganda released by for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions threat­en­ing and incit­ing vio­lence against Jews and Israelis has con­tin­ued unabated. A new video released this week by Al Qaeda fea­tur­ing audio by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the group’s leader, praises ter­ror­ism in Israel and also calls for attacks against the U.S.

The video began by focus­ing on Israel, with Zawahiri say­ing, “I ask Allah to bless…those who pro­ceeded for­ward to stab the Jews.” He quickly piv­oted to call­ing for attacks on the U.S. how­ever, stat­ing that in order to “lib­er­ate al-Quds (Jerusalem) and al-Aqsa mosque,” it is nec­es­sary to “strik[e] the West and specif­i­cally Amer­ica in its own home.” Zawahiri then praised spe­cific ter­ror­ists and attacks, includ­ing the 9/11 attacks, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, and the Tsar­naev broth­ers who com­mit­ted the Boston Marathon bombing.

Al Qaeda pro­pa­ganda has attempted to har­ness pop­u­lar anger about events in Israel in order to call for attacks against the U.S. in the past. Last year, the group released a mag­a­zine titled “Resur­gence,” which had a cover story about Pales­tini­ans but focused pri­mar­ily on harm­ing Amer­i­can inter­ests.  Al Qaeda affil­i­ate Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) issued a mag­a­zine called “Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Con­science” that called for attacks on the U.S. and pro­vided instruc­tions for the con­struc­tion of pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs.

ADL’s recent report, “Anti-Semitism: A Pil­lar of Islamic Extrem­ist Ide­ol­ogy” con­tains mul­ti­ple addi­tional exam­ples of ter­ror­ist exploita­tion of sen­ti­ments about Israel and of anti-Semitism for the pur­pose of gain­ing sup­port­ers and ral­ly­ing recruits.

The new Al Qaeda video also calls for unity between ter­ror­ist organizations.

Screenshot of the Hebrew speaker from the newest ISIS video threatening Israel

Screen­shot from the newest ISIS video threat­en­ing Israel

Like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also released a new video threat­en­ing Israel this week. The video is the sec­ond ISIS video to include a Hebrew speaker, although ISIS has trans­lated offi­cial pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als into Hebrew in the past.

Address­ing “all the Jews, grand­sons of apes and pigs,” the Hebrew speaker threat­ens that, “we are com­ing for you from all over the world to kill you.” In a ref­er­ence to a hadith in which trees and stones tell Mus­lims where Jews are hid­ing so the Jews can be killed he goes on to state that there will be, “a big war, the war of the stones and of the trees, and this is near, it is not far.”

ISIS has released at least 17 videos threat­en­ing Jews and Israel since the mid­dle of Octo­ber, as well as mul­ti­ple other pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als includ­ing audio mes­sages and graphics.

In addi­tion, Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, indi­vid­u­als cel­e­brat­ing and pro­mot­ing ter­ror­ism, and even main­stream Arabic-language news out­lets have also added to the online invec­tive encour­ag­ing ongo­ing violence.

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August 12, 2015 Off

From Charleston to Chattanooga: The Face of Terror in America

By Oren Segal and Mark Pit­cav­age
Direc­tors of the Anti-Defamation League’s Cen­ter on Extremism

Ter­ror­ism is some­times referred to as the “face­less enemy,” but it has hardly been face­less in the United States this sum­mer.  Too many peo­ple have emerged from the shad­ows to inflict death and suffering.

The parade of vio­lence has seemed unend­ing, from Elton Simp­son and Nadir Soofi, who attacked police offi­cers pro­vid­ing secu­rity for the so-called “Muham­mad Art Exhibit” in Texas in May, to John Houser, the Hitler-admiring man obsessed with the moral decay of Amer­ica who recently opened fire at a Louisiana movie the­ater show­ing the movie Train­wreck.

Of the var­i­ous killers and would-be killers this sum­mer, two stand out.  The first is Dylann Storm Roof, the white suprema­cist who allegedly con­fessed to the June mas­sacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Car­olina, that left nine African-Americans dead.dylann-storm-roof-gun-confederate-flag-600

The sec­ond is Muham­mad Youssef Abdu­lazeez, who in July engaged in a shoot­ing spree tar­get­ing a Chat­tanooga mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter and a nearby naval reserve cen­ter.  Abdu­lazeez, who may have been inspired by rad­i­cal Mus­lim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed five people—all mil­i­tary personnel—before being killed by police.

In many ways, Roof and Abdu­lazeez per­son­ify America’s ter­ror­ist threat; they are the faces of the “face­less enemy.”  Most obvi­ously, each rep­re­sents a major source of ter­ror­ism.  Roof was a white suprema­cist who allegedly hoped to start a “race war” in which whites would pre­vail.  White suprema­cists have for decades been the most pro­lific source of domes­tic extremist-related lethal vio­lence.  Along with the other main seg­ment of the extreme right, anti-government mili­tia groups and sov­er­eign cit­i­zens, they are respon­si­ble for the great major­ity of extremist-related deaths in the U.S.

Abdu­lazeez, on whom there is less infor­ma­tion regard­ing moti­va­tion, may well have latched onto the ideas of al-Awlaki—including his encour­age­ment of attacks on mil­i­tary targets—as a way to atone for some of his per­sonal demons, includ­ing drugs and alco­hol.  Domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists have in recent years attempted or con­ducted a large num­ber of ter­ror­ist plots, con­spir­a­cies and acts, despite being fewer in num­ber than right-wing extremists.

Both men also chose tar­gets typ­i­cal of their move­ments.  For Abdu­lazeez, it was the mil­i­tary; here he fol­lowed in the foot­steps of Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad, who killed a sol­dier at a recruit­ing cen­ter in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, in 2009, and Nidal Malik Has­san, who killed 13 peo­ple at Fort Hood, Texas, that same year.  Other Islamic extrem­ists have also recently plot­ted attacks against mil­i­tary tar­gets in the U.S., though with­out success.mohammad-youssef-abdulazeez

Roof went on a shoot­ing ram­page against African-Americans.  Sprees of vio­lence against racial, eth­nic, or reli­gious minori­ties are a com­mon type of white suprema­cist ter­ror­ism.  In recent years, there have been a num­ber of such episodes, includ­ing Fra­zier Glenn Miller’s attacks on Jew­ish insti­tu­tions in Over­land Park, Kansas, in 2014; Wade Michael Page’s ram­page at a Sikh tem­ple in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin, in 2012, and Keith Luke’s attacks on African immi­grants in Brock­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts, in 2009.

Both Roof and Abdu­lazeez used firearms for their attacks, which is also typ­i­cal of Amer­i­can ter­ror­ism.  Although the pub­lic usu­ally thinks of ter­ror­ism in terms of bombs, ter­ror­ists like Ted Kaczyn­ski and the Boston Marathon bombers are rare in Amer­ica.  The vast major­ity of extremist-related mur­ders involve guns—easy to acquire, sim­ple to use, and deadly.  This is why Charleston and Chat­tanooga num­ber among the 10 dead­liest extremist-related attacks of the past 50 years.  Indeed, with the excep­tion of the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, the “top 10” attacks all involved firearms.

Abdu­lazeez and Roof were both young men, dis­af­fected, fac­ing per­sonal stresses of dif­fer­ent kinds (Abdu­lazeez also suf­fered from men­tal ill­ness).  Although ter­ror­ism knows no age limits—Nidal Hasan was 39 at the time of his Fort Hood ram­page, while white suprema­cist James Von Brunn, who attacked the U.S. Holo­caust Memo­r­ial Museum in 2009, was in his late 80s—many of the attacks and plots in recent years by both Islamic and right-wing extrem­ists have been com­mit­ted by men in their mid-20s or younger.

Like Abdu­lazeez and Roof, a num­ber of these extrem­ists com­mit­ted their attacks as lone wolves, unat­tached to any par­tic­u­lar group.  Over­all, the num­ber of lethal lone wolf attacks in the past two decades has been fairly low, num­ber­ing only a few dozen, but in recent years, lone wolves seem to have been emerg­ing at a faster rate.  One rea­son may be the increas­ing role played by the Inter­net in facil­i­tat­ing self-radicalization.  It was through the Inter­net that Roof edu­cated him­self in white supremacy; it was via the Inter­net that Abdu­lazeez down­loaded record­ings of al-Awlaki.

Here one can see a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between right-wing extrem­ists and domes­tic Islamic rad­i­cals.  While they can both eas­ily immerse them­selves in a sea of on-line pro­pa­ganda designed to instill and rein­force extreme views, right-wing extrem­ist Inter­net sources are pri­mar­ily based in the United States and, there­fore, must watch what they say.  White suprema­cists who openly use the Inter­net to encour­age vio­lence and ter­ror­ism open them­selves up to crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion and, if vio­lence occurs, pos­si­ble civil lia­bil­ity; as a result, their encour­age­ment of vio­lence is often more implicit than explicit.

Domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, in con­trast, receive most of their rad­i­cal­iz­ing mes­sages from abroad, from ter­ror­ist groups and like-minded sup­port­ers who are freer to use the Inter­net to call for vio­lence and ter­ror­ism within the U.S.  Pro­pa­ganda from Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, for exam­ple, was an inspi­ra­tion for the Boston Marathon bomb­ing.  In the past two years, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken such tac­tics to a new level alto­gether, employ­ing a vir­tual army of on-line recruiters who use social media plat­forms to reach and rad­i­cal­ize sus­cep­ti­ble indi­vid­u­als across the globe.  Seek­ing to instill a deep sense of com­mu­nity and pur­pose, ISIS sup­port­ers encour­age Amer­i­cans to come to the Mid­dle East to help it fight its wars—many of the 80+ U.S. res­i­dents linked to Islamic extrem­ist activ­ity since 2014 have made such attempts. But ISIS also urges peo­ple to launch attacks in the U.S.

Roof and Abdu­lazeez were both cold-blooded killers.  Their attacks deeply affected the cit­i­zens of Charleston and Chat­tanooga and, indeed, the whole coun­try, though not always in the same ways.  In par­tic­u­lar, the Chat­tanooga shoot­ings, like some sim­i­lar attacks before them, stirred anti-Muslim sen­ti­ments directed at America’s entire Mus­lim com­mu­nity, a dis­turb­ing phe­nom­e­non for which there is no par­al­lel with regard to white suprema­cist attacks.

But their attacks were sim­i­lar in that they were both essen­tially futile, able to achieve lit­tle but death and mis­ery.  Indeed, the reac­tions to the attacks illus­trate just how inef­fec­tive they actu­ally were.  The Chat­tanooga attack, for exam­ple, inspired an out­pour­ing of sup­port for the U.S. mil­i­tary. The Charleston response was even more pow­er­ful.  Far from start­ing a “race war,” Roof’s slaugh­ter not only brought Charlesto­ni­ans of all races together but also resulted in a bipar­ti­san effort to remove the Con­fed­er­ate flag from the South Car­olina capitol.

Amer­i­can extrem­ists, of what­ever stripe, can hurt and even kill, but the one thing they can’t do is win.

Mr. Segal is an author­ity on Islamic extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism in the United States; Dr. Pit­cav­age is an expert on right-wing extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism in the United States.

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August 5, 2015 Off

New AQAP Video Calls for Attacks Against the U.S.

AQAP propaganda video calls for attacks against U.S.

AQAP pro­pa­ganda video calls for attacks against U.S.

Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) has released a new video prais­ing recent ter­ror attacks in West­ern coun­tries and call­ing for addi­tional attacks against the U.S. The video, which demon­strates Al Qaeda’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to attacks against the West, comes as pol­i­cy­mak­ers con­tinue to debate whether the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Al Qaeda serves as a greater threat to domes­tic security.

In the video, AQAP offi­cial Abu al-Miqdad al Kindi, who is the speaker through­out the video, calls for attacks against Amer­ica, stat­ing, “Oh Mujahideen (fight­ers) in every cor­ner of the world, I urge you on America…direct your spears towards them.” He also urges view­ers to read Inspire mag­a­zine, AQAP’s English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine, for instruc­tions, stating:

“And to the war­riors of Lone Jihad, may Allah bless and guide your efforts….Set your goals with pre­ci­sion and focus your strikes on the enemy’s joints. And after seek­ing help from Allah, seek guid­ance and instruc­tion from Inspire Mag­a­zine. For indeed it presents prac­ti­cal and effi­cient guid­ance. It places impor­tant direc­tions in assur­ing the suc­cess of lone Jihad in achiev­ing planned goals.”

In the video, Al-Kindi specif­i­cally praises attacks in response to draw­ings depict­ing Muham­mad, includ­ing the attack against the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine in Paris (whose per­pe­tra­tors had allegedly trained with AQAP) and the attack against a Gar­land, TX ‘Draw Moham­mad con­test,’ (whose per­pe­tra­tors had allegedly been inspired by ISIS).

He also describes the recent shoot­ing at mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee, as “a blessed jihadi oper­a­tion,” which he says demon­strates that, “lone jihad has proven to be and will always prove to be a strate­gic weapon suc­cess­fully hit­ting and pen­e­trat­ing the enemy’s fort.”

Al-Kindi also argues that leg­is­la­tion aimed at pre­vent­ing Holo­caust denial and anti-Semitism in Euro­pean coun­tries legit­i­mates vio­lent attacks against West­ern tar­gets per­ceived as defam­ing Islam and Muham­mad; in so doing, it also appears to val­i­date Holo­caust revisionism:

Amer­ica, France, and other Kufr nations are the ones who assist and make leg­is­la­tions (sic) to pro­tect those who abuse Islam and the Prophets, the same nations which leg­is­late and pun­ish whomever ques­tions the Holo­caust but rather any­one who ques­tions the authen­tic­ity of the sta­tis­tics. It does not mat­ter if the crit­i­cism came from a researcher or a his­to­rian. These are the same nations led by Amer­ica, imple­ment­ing laws that will empower them to place the world under watch in order to iden­tify who is ‘anti-Semitic’ (anti-Semitism laws) which are not bounded by their free­dom of expres­sion. And as you put lim­its to free­dom of expres­sion and pun­ish whomever goes against them, it is upon us to pun­ish who­ever trans­gresses our bound­aries and sanctities.”

The video was released this morn­ing on the Twit­ter feed asso­ci­ated with Al Male­hem Media, the media wing of AQAP. The Twit­ter account has been active since April and has over 6,000 followers.

Only three of the 58 U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism in 2015 appear to have been inspired to act by or on behalf of Al Qaeda; the remain­ing 55 allegedly acted in sup­port of ISIS, although a num­ber of them had allegedly read or watched both Al Qaeda and ISIS propaganda.

This video was released less than a week after a let­ter attrib­uted to AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim Has­san al-Asiri that also called for attacks on the U.S. was posted to Twitter.

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