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May 28, 2015

ADL’s Terrorism Update Examines U.S. Residents Linked To Terror

isis-fightersThe newest edi­tion of Ter­ror­ism Update, ADL’s newslet­ter pro­vid­ing news and analy­sis on inter­na­tional ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and their fol­low­ers in the U.S., is now available.

The fea­ture arti­cle details the 40 U.S. citizens and residents who have been linked to terrorism motivated by Islamic extremism in 2015 including recent arrests in California, Texas and Georgia and provides information on their demographics and goals.

The newslet­ter includes a pro­file on Mohamed Abdulahi Hassan, a Minnesota man who joined Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, and who may have inspired as many as 11 people living in the U.S., including the Garland shooters and several Americans who attempted to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

This edi­tion also includes infor­ma­tion on multiple ISIS-related arrests, women engaged in Islamic extremism, hacking activity by the ISIS cyber-unit, the declassified Osama bin Laden memos, propaganda videos by ISIS and Al Shabaab, and the death of Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn.

To sub­scribe to ADL’s Ter­ror­ism Update newslet­ter, click on the below image:

terrorism-update-icon

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May 7, 2015

Minnesotan In Somalia Encourages Americans To Engage In Terror

Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan

Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan

Update – 6/17/2015: Two additional U.S. residents have been linked with Hassan since this blog was first posted: Nicholas Rovinski of Rhode Island, arrested 6/12/2015 for providing material support to terror and his role in a Boston-area attack plot and Munther Omar Saleh of New York, arrested 6/16/2015 for providing material support for terror and a New York attack plot, both reportedly directed messages to Hassan on Twitter.

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

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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