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June 5, 2012

Hizb ut-Tahrir Announces Third Khilafah Conference in Chicago

Update: After intense pressure from outside groups, the Meadows Club, the venue of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Khilafah conference, has announced that it will not provide accommodations for the event. HT organizers have announced that a new venue is being sought and its location will be announced as soon as possible.

An international Islamist organization bent on establishing a worldwide Islamic theocracy plans to hold its third Khilafah (Caliphate) conference later this month in a Chicago-suburb.

Hizb ut-Tahrir America (HT), the U.S.-arm of the international organization with a long record of hostility toward Israel and the Jews, plans to hold the conference, dubbed “Revolution: Liberation by Revelation – Muslims Marching Toward Victory,” in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

This year’s conference will once again be held against the backdrop of the revolutions engulfing the Middle East, which the organization seeks to use to promote its vision of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

HT’s second Khilafah conference, which was held in June of last year, focused, in part, on the organization’s view that capitalist and nationalist systems of the West are “enemies to Islam.” It drew significantly fewer people than its first conference in 2009, which attracted approximately 400 people.

HT has attempted to capitalize on the Arab revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa by tapping into peoples’ frustrations over events taking place in the restive region. Several months ago, for example, the group organized a rally in downtown Chicago to protest the Assad regime’s crackdown in Syria.

A May 2012 article on the group’s website notes the “barbarism… and tyranny… [which are] the hallmark of America’s policy in the Muslim world.” In the same piece, HT claims there is a Western bias in protecting policies and institutions only concerning the “Jews or the Zionist state of Israel.”

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May 23, 2012

Anarchist Arrests Mark NATO Summit

Five individuals have been arrested by Chicago police in three separate bomb-related cases during the lead-up to the recent NATO Summit.

Three men were arrested in a raid last Wednesday in connection to an alleged plot to attack President Obama’s campaign headquarters and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home, as well as police and financial institutions. The men were in possession of Molotov cocktails and instructions for making pipe bombs, according to court documents.

The suspects, who have been identified as Brian Church, 22 from Florida, Jared Chase, 27 from New Hampshire, and Brent Betterly, 24 from Massachusetts, are all self-described anarchists. The three traveled to Chicago together from Florida, where they were reportedly involved with the Occupy Movement.

Last month, five self-described anarchists with ties to the Occupy Movement were arrested in Ohio after allegedly attempting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge “to send a message to corporations and the United States government.”

Sebastian Senakiewicz, a 24-year-old self-described anarchist, was also arrested in Chicago for making a false terroristic threat. Prosecutors said Senakiewicz was unsatisfied with the relative-calm leading up to the NATO Summit and allegedly bragged he could blow up a downtown bridge. He reportedly claimed he had access to a vehicle packed with explosives and weapons.

In fifth man, Mark Neiweem, 28, was charged with attempted possession of explosives. While charging documents do not mention targets or his motives, the charges assert that he asked other protesters for materials to construct a pipe bomb.

Neiweem is reportedly a member of the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) and frequented their online chat rooms. ABC is a national collective that aims to support and defend political prisoners and has indicated support for class war (abolishing capitalism). Some ABC “collectives” merged into a federation advocating armed self-defense through its Tactical Defense Caucus, which it hoped would organize, recruit and train anarchists in the tactical use of firearms. In his testimony before the Senate Committee on Intelligence in February of 2005, Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI, identified the federation as a potential threat to national security.

Other anarchists clashed with police at the end of an otherwise peaceful anti-war protest Sunday, leading to dozens more arrests.

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May 1, 2012

Five Apparent Anarchists Arrested In Plot To Bomb Cleveland Bridge

Update – June 13, 2013: Joshua Stafford was convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction on June 13. He faces up to life-in-prison. The other four suspects have all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to between six and ten years in prison. 

Five Ohio men were arrested Monday night after allegedly attempting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge “to send a message to corporations and the United States government.”

The five men, Douglas Wright, Brandon Baxter, Anthony Hayne, Connor Stevens, and Joshua Stafford, had been considering acts of violence for months, according to federal agents. Two of the men placed what they believed to be explosive devices at the bridge and tried to remotely detonate it. The devices, however, were inert and provided by the FBI as part of a sting operation.

Wright, Baxter, and Hayne have been charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosives; charges against Stevens and Stafford are pending.

All five men were apparently involved in Occupy Cleveland protests and have been characterized by law enforcement or self-identify as anarchists. Hayne, Stafford, and Baxter list the movement as their “employer” on their Facebook pages.

In recorded conversation with the FBI, Baxter discussed the impact of blowing up a bridge. “Taking out a bridge in the business district would cost the…corporate big wigs a lot of money,” he said. Wright believed that the Occupy Movement had been coopted by “corporate American and law enforcement” and that therefore they needed new recruits from outside the movement.

The media coordinator for Occupy Cleveland denied any knowledge of the planned attack, but acknowledged that some members of the movement are acquainted with the suspects.

Baxter’s anti-capitalist views were voiced in interview last month during a protest in Cleveland against home foreclosures. “…I feel the powers that be, whoever they might be – on all levels of government and those who hold corporate power – are not listening because not enough people are actually taking a stance…”

The five men allegedly considered other targets for attack, including the local Federal Reserve Bank and law enforcement Fusion Center, before settling on the bridge. Baxter inquired into targeting the Klan or other neo-Nazi groups in Ohio, but was dissuaded when he was told they were not in Cleveland. He claimed to have previously participated in a protest against the Klan in Oakland, California.

The planned attack was allegedly timed to coincide with May Day, a celebration of International Workers Day that has been seized upon by anarchist and anti-capitalist groups around the world. May Day events around the world have often featured property destruction and arrests.

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