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May 7, 2015 2

Minnesotan In Somalia Encourages Americans To Engage In Terror

Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan

Mohamed Abdul­lahi Hassan

Mohamed Abdul­lahi Has­san, who author­i­ties believe may have inter­acted with the Gar­land shoot­ers, may have inspired as many as 11 peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. to take action in the last two years.

Has­san is a per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­dent who was indicted in 2009 for trav­el­ling to Soma­lia to join Al Shabaab. He is believed to have com­mu­ni­cated with Amer­i­cans through his exten­sive social media net­works, on which he is known as Mujahid Miski or Muham­mad Miski. He has actively sup­ported and pro­moted ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda on Face­book, on the social media ques­tion and answer site Ask.FM, and on over 30 Twit­ter accounts.

Prior to the May 3 shoot­ing in Gar­land, Texas, Has­san report­edly inter­acted on Twit­ter with one of the alleged shoot­ers, Elton Simp­son. In April, Simp­son asked Has­san to fol­low his Twit­ter account so the two could pri­vately exchange mes­sages. Then, on April 23, Has­san wrote a tweet urg­ing attacks against the event at the com­mu­nity cen­ter that stated, “The broth­ers from the Char­lie Hebdo attack did their part. It’s time for broth­ers in the #US to do their part.” Later that day, Simp­son tweeted at Has­san, “When will they ever learn. They are plan­ning on select­ing the best pic­ture drawn of Rasu­l­ul­lah (Muham­mad)… in Texas.” Has­san retweeted the tweet.

Notably, Simp­son allegedly sought to travel to Soma­lia to join Al Shabaab in 2009 – one year after Has­san did. It is unknown if the two knew each other in the U.S. Has­san has also inter­acted online with sev­eral other Amer­i­cans fac­ing ter­ror­ism charges, includ­ing Abdi Nur, who allegedly trav­eled to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Has­san com­mu­ni­cated with Nur on Face­book, ask­ing Nur, “us broth­ers from mpls (Min­neapo­lis) wanted to know how many you guys are back there in Sham (Syria),” to which Nur responded, “only three of us. The oth­ers there are still workin mak­ing hijrah (mov­ing abroad).”

The Face­book con­ver­sa­tions between Nur and Has­san also indi­cated that the two may have known each other when they lived in the U.S. Nur asked Has­san to “send [a mutual friend] my salams (greet­ings) akhi (brother)…please remind him that the salams came from abdi­yare [Nur] that you went to south­west [high school] with.” Nur was indicted together with Min­nesota res­i­dent Abdul­lah Yusuf in 2014. In 2015, six addi­tional Min­nesota res­i­dents were charged as part of the same con­spir­acy to travel to join ISIS.

Elton Simpson promoted Hassan's most recent Twitter account, @LoveHooooooooor

Elton Simp­son pro­moted Hassan’s recent Twit­ter account, @Love_H0000riyah

A third Amer­i­can, Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain, is alleged to have had con­tact with Has­san as well. McCain died fight­ing with ISIS in August 2014. Fol­low­ing McCain’s death, Has­san retweeted mul­ti­ple state­ments from McCain’s Twit­ter pro­file, @iamthetooth, and wrote, ““The Hard­est thing in Jihad is when a brother u  love is granted Sha­hadah [mar­tyr­dom]. Today im expe­ri­enc­ing those feel­ings. May Allah accept @iamthetooth.”

Has­san reg­u­larly inter­acts with many other uniden­ti­fied indi­vid­u­als online and is well known in extrem­ist social media cir­cles. Despite his reported mem­ber­ship in Al Shabaab, he advo­cates for his con­tacts to join ISIS if pos­si­ble, although he has tweeted both Al Shabaab and ISIS pro­pa­ganda too. On Jan­u­ary 29, 2014, he wrote, “My Heart is in Sham [Syria], my eyes are in Aqsa [Jerusalem] and My Soul is in Somalia.”

Hassan’s account on Ask.FM, an anony­mous ques­tion and answer ser­vice, is illus­tra­tive of the sup­port he pro­vided for English-speakers to join ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions. For exam­ple, one indi­vid­ual on the site asked, “My brother wants to be a mujahid (fighter) but he’s got glasses. Will that stop him from becom­ing one?” Has­san responded, “He can be a Mujahid and still wear glasses…And don’t worry about loos­ing (sic) them or brak­ing (sic) them because if you do insha Allah (God will­ing) you’ll have a new one made for you.” Another indi­vid­ual asked, “What does your last answer mean? Where you said ‘Don’t waste time and try to be one of the builders of the Islamic khi­laafah (Caliphate).’” Has­san responded, “It basi­cally means every minute and ever sec­ond is wasted if you’re not out there build­ing the Islamic Caliphate. Go out and make hijrah (travel) from the east and west and join the Jihad. Let your blood be the water for the tree of Khilaafah.”

Has­san grew up in Min­nesota and attended Roo­sevelt High School in Min­neapo­lis. He is believed to have trav­eled to Soma­lia in 2008 and is report­edly still a mem­ber of Al Shabaab.

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May 4, 2015 1

Alleged Garland Shooter Indicated His Intent Online

Elton Simpson

Elton Simp­son

Author­i­ties have iden­ti­fied one of the alleged shoot­ers at the shoot­ing at a Gar­land, Texas, com­mu­nity cen­ter yes­ter­day as Elton Simp­son, a 30-year-old res­i­dent of Phoenix, Ari­zona. He and an accom­plice, iden­ti­fied as 34-year-old Nadir Soofi, who was report­edly Simpson’s room­mate, are the 33rd and 34th Amer­i­cans linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism this year, and their shoot­ing marks the eighth domes­tic ter­ror plot moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2015. These num­bers rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant spike over pre­vi­ous years, and are likely related at least in part to the exten­sive and sophis­ti­cated online pro­pa­ganda cam­paigns pro­moted by ISIS and its supporters.

Simp­son main­tained an active pres­ence on Twit­ter, with at least 8 accounts that he used to net­work with ISIS sup­port­ers and share extrem­ist ideas. Prior to the attack, ADL had been mon­i­tor­ing at least one account believed to be his, under the name “Sharia [Islamic jurispru­dence] is Light.” His pro­file pic­ture was that of Anwar al-Awlaki, an Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, killed in 2011, who is reg­u­larly quoted in ter­ror­ist cir­cles and has been cited as an inspi­ra­tion by many Amer­i­can Islamic extrem­ists. Simp­son used the pro­file to tweet pro­pa­ganda favor­ing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as to share the names of new ISIS sup­porter accounts that replaced accounts pre­vi­ously sus­pended for pro­mot­ing terrorism.

garland-texas-twitter-threat

An ISIS sup­porter encour­aged vio­lence against the event on Twitter

In recent days, ter­ror sup­port­ers on Twit­ter had been call­ing for vio­lence against the event in Texas, which fea­tured anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, as well as a con­test in which par­tic­i­pants were asked to draw car­toons of the Mus­lim prophet Mohamed. One ISIS sup­porter, for exam­ple, tweeted, “Broth­ers in Gar­land Texas Please go to there with your weapons, bombs or with your knives. Threaten your ene­mies & the ene­mies of Allaah,” and, “I think thy forgt the pre­vi­ous attack [against the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine, which printed car­toons about Mohamed] done by our french bros, walahi [indeed] we wil kill u if u dare to insult our Prophet. Fol­low­ing the attack, that same indi­vid­ual tweeted that Simp­son “was favourit­ing my stuff about the Texas event.”

About half an hour before the shoot­ing, Simp­son appeared to claim respon­si­bil­ity on Twit­ter, writ­ing, “The bro with me and myself have given bay’ah [alle­giance] to Amirul Mu’mineen [lit­er­ally ‘Prince of the Believ­ers,’ a ref­er­ence to the Caliph and, in con­text, to the head of ISIS]. May Allah accept us as mujahideen [fight­ers]. Make dua [prayer] #tex­as­at­tack.”

Simpson's claim of responsibility on Twitter

Simpson’s claim of responsibility

ISIS and its sup­port­ers have been vocal in call­ing for home­grown attacks against West­ern  coun­tries and have used the pur­ported defama­tion of Muham­mad as a ratio­nale for vio­lence. Fol­low­ing the Paris attacks against the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine and a kosher super­mar­ket, ISIS sup­port­ers launched a Twit­ter cam­paign with the hash­tag #Fight­forHim, ‘him’ being a ref­er­ence to Muham­mad, advo­cat­ing “the duty of killing those who insult our Prophet Muhammad.”

Simp­son had been under inves­ti­ga­tion for ter­ror­ist activ­ity in the past.  In 2009, he allegedly indi­cated inter­est in Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda affil­i­ate, telling an infor­mant, “It’s time to go to Soma­lia, brother. We know plenty of broth­ers from Soma­lia. We’re going to make it to the bat­tle­field. It’s time to roll.” He was arrested in 2010 and found guilty of mak­ing false state­ments to fed­eral agents, after which he was sen­tenced to three years’ probation.

Since 2014, ISIS has suc­ceeded Al Shabaab as the fore­most recruiter of Amer­i­can mil­i­tants. A num­ber of Amer­i­cans who pre­vi­ously sup­ported Al Shabaab, includ­ing Amer­i­cans who joined Al Shabaab and act as recruiters from abroad, have since become advo­cates for ISIS.

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February 24, 2015 2

Al Shabaab Video Threatens Jewish and Western Targets

The video calls for attacks on "Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centers"

The video calls for attacks on “Jewish-owned West­field shop­ping cen­ters” and other shop­ping cen­ters in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

A new video released by Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda’s affil­i­ate in Soma­lia, that encour­ages attacks against “Amer­i­can and Jewish-owned shop­ping cen­ters around the world,” high­lights the role of anti-Semitism in ter­ror­ist narrative.

The video focused on Al Shabaab’s Sep­tem­ber 2013 siege of the West­gate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which lasted for three days and resulted in at least 67 fatal­i­ties. At the time of the attack, Al Shabaab claimed to have tar­geted that mall because it had “Jew­ish and Amer­i­can owned” shops. The new video affirmed Al Shabaab’s inter­est in Jew­ish targets.

Its release comes as other ter­ror­ist groups, includ­ing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, have issued calls for home­grown attacks in the West as they vie against each other for power and followers.

“West­gate shop­ping mall…is a four-story Israeli-owned com­plex,” the video’s nar­ra­tor stated, and in response to the attack, “Israeli secu­rity spe­cial­ists and FBI teams were…on the ground.” The video also put the nation­al­ity “Israeli” first in a list of nation­al­i­ties of the deceased.

Show­cas­ing the 2013 attack enables Al Shabaab to show off its accom­plish­ments to poten­tial new recruits, but the group also appar­ently hopes it may inspire copy­cat attacks. Address­ing West­ern sym­pa­thiz­ers, the nar­ra­tor stated, “We call upon our Mus­lim broth­ers, par­tic­u­larly those in the West…. imag­ine what a ded­i­cated mujahid (fighter) in the West could do to the Amer­i­can and Jewish-owned shop­ping cen­ters across the world.”

It then went on to issue more spe­cific threats: “What if such an attack was to call in the Mall of Amer­ica in Min­nesota, or the West Edmon­ton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street, or any of the hun­dred or so Jewish-owned West­field shop­ping cen­ters dot­ted right across the West­ern world…”

Although Al Shabaab has not staged any sig­nif­i­cant attack out­side East­ern Africa, it has posed a sig­nif­i­cant threat to U.S. secu­rity. At least 50 U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been charged with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to the group or are believed to have joined it. Some of those cit­i­zens are now actively recruit­ing U.S. cit­i­zens to join ISIS and other ter­ror­ist organizations.

Another recent Al Shabaab video, released in May 2014, called for lone wolf attacks in the West.

Anti-Semitism is at the core of Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy, and ter­ror­ist groups includ­ing Al Shabaab reg­u­larly use anti-Semitism to attract and rad­i­cal­ize poten­tial recruits. In the past, Al Shabaab declared an “open bat­tle” against Israel, which it called the “oppress­ing Zion­ist entity,” and against Jew­ish inter­ests in Africa. In an English-language mag­a­zine released in 2012, the group called Jews, “the worst enemy of Islam.”

The new video also high­lighted the impor­tance of social media as a vehi­cle for dis­sem­i­nat­ing ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda, claim­ing that “HSM Press (the Al Shabaab Twit­ter feed) soon became the most cred­i­ble source of infor­ma­tion on the attack,” and noted that Al Shabaab had live-streamed the attack on Twit­ter. The video itself was cir­cu­lated on YouTube and on links from Twit­ter to file-sharing sites.

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