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June 27, 2014 0

ISIS Propaganda Campaign Threatens U.S.

Friday image one graphicThe Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced a new social media cam­paign this week designed to threaten the U.S. and warn it against send­ing mil­i­tary assis­tance to Iraq.

The cam­paign, “Warn­ing to the Amer­i­can Peo­ple,” is being orga­nized on social media around the hash­tag #Calami­ty­Will­Be­fal­lUS and is being directed through one of the many Twit­ter han­dles pur­port­edly belong­ing to ISIS. Par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to tweet using that hash­tag in Eng­lish or Ara­bic, although “tweet­ing in Eng­lish is pre­ferred.” Par­tic­i­pants are also encour­aged to repost offi­cially sanc­tioned tweets that appear on the ISIS “union page” and use “pho­tos of signs or designs with warn­ing to Amer­i­cans” when possible.

A num­ber of images and slo­gans were pre-released begin­ning on June 24. These include images of the falling World Trade Cen­ter, quotes by the Amer­i­can Al-Qaeda pro­pa­gan­dist Anwar al-Awlaki, and pic­tures of advanc­ing ISIS fighters.

The offi­cial slo­gans fea­ture threats against Amer­i­can inva­sion and a range of par­tic­u­larly inflam­ma­tory mes­sages, including:

  • “If the United States bombs Iraq, every cit­i­zen is a legit­i­mate tar­get for us.”
  • “This is a mes­sage for every Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. You are the tar­get of every Mus­lim in the world wher­ever you are.”
  • “For every drop of blood shed of the Iraqis, Amer­i­cans will shed a river of blood.”
  • “Every Amer­i­can doc­tor work­ing in any coun­try will be slaugh­tered if Amer­ica attacks Iraq.”
  • “Don’t come to Iraq unless you want another 11th Sep­tem­ber to happen.”

ISIS is par­tic­u­larly adept at har­ness­ing the power of social media. The orga­ni­za­tion main­tains a vari­ety of Twit­ter accounts in mul­ti­ple lan­guages and sev­eral ISIS regional groups main­tain Twit­ter feeds as well. ISIS also runs an app that auto­mat­i­cally directs its pro­pa­ganda onto sup­port­ers’ accounts, sig­nif­i­cantly aug­ment­ing its mes­sage and reach.Terrorist exploita­tion of online forums has become an increas­ingly impor­tant ele­ment of the rad­i­cal­iza­tion process in recent years.

In addi­tion, ISIS reg­u­larly takes advan­tage of hash­tags that enable ISIS’s mes­sage to trend on Twit­ter. It also main­tains a Twit­ter feed ded­i­cated to inform­ing sup­port­ers of trend­ing hash­tags. Sup­port­ers can then tweet ISIS mes­sages that will be viewed by any­one look­ing at a trend­ing topic (for exam­ple: an ISIS user might post a pro-ISIS ISIS hashtag usemes­sage along with the hash­tag “#world­cup” as demon­strated by the image at right).

The cur­rent cam­paign marks a depar­ture from stan­dard ISIS pro­pa­ganda. The major­ity of ISIS’s past atten­tion has been geared to bol­ster­ing its image and recruit­ing fight­ers; sur­pris­ingly lit­tle has been directed against the U.S. But ISIS has nonethe­less always expressed anger and sus­pi­cion about U.S. pol­icy. An April 2014 speech by the group’s main spokesman, for exam­ple, con­flated the U.S. with Satan, say­ing, “Yes, ver­ily the plot of Shay­tan [Satan] is weak. Amer­ica came to Iraq lead­ing a fren­zied crusade….The Cru­saders thought that no one would be able to over­come them; how­ever Allah the Mighty and Majes­tic dis­graced them and showed us the weak­ness of their plot.” In the same speech, he claimed that ISIS “is America’s tough­est enemy.”

In addi­tion to Twit­ter, the “Warn­ing to the Amer­i­can Peo­ple” cam­paign is being posted on Face­book, in YouTube videos, and on var­i­ous extrem­ist forums.

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June 20, 2014 3

Texas Terror Arrests Highlight Ongoing Travel Threat

texas-terror-michael-todd-wolfe-rahatul-ashikim-khan

Rahatul Ashikim Khan & Michael Todd Wolfe

The arrests of two 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zens in Texas in sep­a­rate inci­dents on Tues­day for allegedly plan­ning to join ter­ror­ist groups over­seas under­scores the ongo­ing con­cerns over Amer­i­cans join­ing ter­ror­ist groups abroad and the con­tin­ued allure of Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Dozens of Amer­i­cans and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been charged in recent years in con­nec­tion with attempts to jointer­ror­ist groups abroad, includ­ing Al Shabaab in Soma­lia and Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula in Yemen, as well as ter­ror­ists groups in Syria.

Michael Todd Wolfe of Austin, Texas, is alleged to have attempted to travel to join a ter­ror­ist group fight­ing in Syria. The crim­i­nal com­plaint filed against him indi­cates that he was ini­tially inter­ested in join­ing Jab­hat al Nusra, an Al Qaeda affil­i­ate, but later decided instead to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which broke with Al Qaeda ear­lier this year.

Wolfe, a con­vert to Islam who grew up in Texas, was arrested at George H.W. Bush Hous­ton Inter­con­ti­nen­tal Air­port just before he attempted to board a flight to Europe, en route to Syria.

Author­i­ties say the sec­ond indi­vid­ual, Rahatul Ashikim Khan of Round Rock, Texas, con­spired with oth­ers to recruit peo­ple who would “travel over­seas to sup­port ter­ror­ist activ­i­ties includ­ing com­mit­ting vio­lent jihad,” in par­tic­u­lar with Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Soma­lia and Kenya. Khan is a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen orig­i­nally from Bangladesh, and is a col­lege stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas, Austin.

Demon­strat­ing the cen­tral role the Inter­net plays in online rad­i­cal­iza­tion and recruit­ment, both Wolfe and Khan had used the Inter­net to abet their activ­i­ties. Wolfe allegedly watched videos online of ter­ror­ism in Syria. Khan called him­self a “jihadi” and used an online chat room to iden­tify poten­tial ter­ror­ists between March 2011 and Jan­u­ary 2012, accord­ing to court documents.

Khan allegedly spent time on a chat room ded­i­cated to Abdul­lah al-Faisal, a Jamaica-born Mus­lim preacher who served four years in a British prison for urg­ing his fol­low­ers to kill non-Muslims, includ­ing Amer­i­cans, Hin­dus and Jews. Al-Faisel was also the “imam and spir­i­tual advi­sor” of Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim (RM), a New York-based fringe anti-Semitic Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tion that jus­ti­fied ter­ror­ist attacks and other forms of vio­lence for many years.

Amer­i­cans trav­el­ing abroad to join ter­ror­ist groups have been a con­sis­tent threat since 2001, with three dis­tinct waves of travel appar­ent. Between 2001 and 2005, Amer­i­cans trav­elled mostly to join Al Qaeda Cen­tral and the Tal­iban. Between 2007 and 2011, travel and sup­port were espe­cially directed at Al Shabaab. Travel to Syria – the great­est threat since 2011 – has been the third wave; since the start of the Syr­ian civil war, as many as 100 U.S. cit­i­zens are believed to have trav­elled to Syria to join the fighting.

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June 3, 2014 0

New Terrorist Video Rails Against Jews

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion in Syria and Iraq pre­vi­ously asso­ci­ated with Al Qaeda, released two videos and a mag­a­zine in the last sev­eral days aimed at recruit­ing ter­ror­ists. These media, which were first made avail­able via Twit­ter, are the lat­est exam­ples of a fast-growing trenRabbis are humiliatedd involv­ing ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda online that is aimed at west­ern­ers.

One of the videos, titled “Ya Junud Al-Haqq Hayya,” which trans­lates as “Sol­diers of the just cause, let’s go!” is par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy for its use of threats against Jews and Chris­tians to rally the troops.

Against a back­drop of pic­tures of ISIS mil­i­tants, the video fea­tures an Ara­bic song while the Eng­lish trans­la­tion splashes in red against the images. After a call to “rally all the troops,” the first verse con­cludes with the line, “Wher­ever our war goes, Jew­ish rab­bis are humil­i­ated.” Fol­low­ing a cho­rus, the sec­ond verse then begins, “Break the crosses and destroy the lin­eage of the grand­sons of mon­keys,” prob­a­ble ref­er­ences to Chris­tians and Jews.

The video comes at the same time as French offi­cials claim that Mehdi Nem­mouche, the alleged per­pe­tra­tor of a shoot­ing at the Jew­ish museum in Brus­sels that killed three peo­ple, may have fought with ISIS while in Syria last year.

The other video released fea­tures an ISIS mem­ber who is appar­ently a Euro­pean recruit singing in Ger­man about vic­tory for ISIS and the impo­si­tion of Islamic law on an Islamic state. It claims to be the first of a series of short videos aimed at West­ern­ers called “Mujatweets.”

Anti-Semitism is often used by ter­ror­ists groups in their pro­pa­ganda to appeal to and rad­i­cal­ize fol­low­ers. For exam­ple, Inspire mag­a­zine, the Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine released by Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, is filled with either direct threats against Jews and Jew­ish insti­tu­tions or dia­tribes against Jews and Israel.

The mag­a­zine released by ISIS is in Eng­lish and is designed as a news mag­a­zine, fea­tur­ing images of recent ISIS accom­plish­ments in Syria along with cap­tions and brief descrip­tions. All three releases high­light ISIS’s con­tin­ued attempts to attract and recruit West­ern­ers and demon­strate the inte­gra­tion of West­ern recruits in their orga­ni­za­tion, while simul­ta­ne­ously high­light­ing the organization’s strength.

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