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May 24, 2016 0

List of Americans who Joined ISIS Reinforces Statistical Trends

Douglas McAuthur McCain, among the Americans on the list, died in Syria in 2014

Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain, among the Amer­i­cans on the list, died in Syria in 2014

NBC recently released the names of 15 U.S. res­i­dents who allegedly trav­eled to join ISIS since 2013. The names had been pro­vided to the net­work by an indi­vid­ual who claimed to be a defec­tor from ISIS and were report­edly ver­i­fied by West Point’s Com­bat­ing Ter­ror­ism Cen­ter and other coun­tert­er­ror­ism specialists.

While three of the indi­vid­u­als on the list – Abdi Nur, Yusuf Jama, and Dou­glas McCain – had already been pub­licly known, the other 12 had not. The list serves as a reminder that, while a con­sid­er­able num­ber of U.S. res­i­dents who have attempted to travel to join ISIS have been iden­ti­fied, there are still more whose iden­ti­ties remain unclear – as many as 250 accord­ing to law enforce­ment sources. The names and back­grounds of indi­vid­u­als on the NBC list also serve as vital reminders of the diver­sity of the indi­vid­u­als attracted to Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy, and rein­forces what we do know about who these indi­vid­u­als are.

Indi­vid­u­als on the list came from across the U.S. Among the states rep­re­sented were Cal­i­for­nia, Mass­a­chu­setts, Min­nesota, New York , Ohio, Texas, Vir­ginia, and Wash­ing­ton. This geo­graphic diver­sity is no sur­prise. ADL’s analy­sis of U.S. res­i­dents linked to activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism between 2009 and 2015 indi­cated that the indi­vid­u­als had been arrested in 32 states, as well as inter­na­tion­ally. States with the high­est num­bers of arrests included New York, Min­nesota, Cal­i­for­nia and Illinois.

One of the indi­vid­u­als on the list was female, and the rest were male. While fewer women have engaged in activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism than men, the pro­por­tion of women has increased in recent years. ADL doc­u­mented only 12 U.S. women in total linked to ter­ror moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy in the 11 years between 2002 and 2013, but there were 10 in 2014 and seven in 2015 (exclud­ing the woman on the NBC list); there has already been one woman out of the 11 U.S. res­i­dents linked to activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy thus far in 2016.

Inter­est­ingly, the woman on the list, Zakia Nas­rin, was joined in her extrem­ist pur­suits by her hus­band and her younger brother. Of the 109 U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2014 and 2015, at least 28 indi­vid­u­als were accused or impli­cated together with fam­ily members.

The aver­age age of the indi­vid­u­als on the list when they trav­eled to join ISIS was 22 years old. The old­est was 33 and the youngest 18. This is a lit­tle younger than aver­age. ADL data indi­cates that the aver­age age of U.S. res­i­dents who trav­eled or attempted to travel to join ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions abroad between 2009 and 2015 was 25 years old, while the aver­age over­all age of U.S. res­i­dents linked to activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy was 28. How­ever, the num­ber of young peo­ple has been increas­ing as well; in 2015, there were a total of 25 out of 81 U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy who were 21 years old or younger.

At least one of the indi­vid­u­als on the list claimed to have con­verted to Islam. A lit­tle over one quar­ter of U.S. res­i­dents who have been linked to activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in recent years sim­i­larly were not raised iden­ti­fy­ing as Mus­lims, but rather con­verted or claimed to have con­verted to Islam, at least nom­i­nally. Impor­tantly, these con­ver­sions do not nec­es­sar­ily mean they are accepted as Mus­lims by the main­stream Amer­i­can Mus­lim com­mu­nity, nor does it mean they have been par­tic­u­larly obser­vant. As with other indi­vid­u­als linked to activ­ity moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy, these con­verts embraced rad­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam.

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May 20, 2016 0

ADL Alerts Service Providers to Hezbollah Presence on Their Platforms

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, speaking on al-Manar television

Has­san Nas­ral­lah, the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of Hezbol­lah, speak­ing on al-Manar television

UPDATE: 5/20/16 — Face­book & Insta­gram have removed the accounts iden­ti­fied in this blog.

Al-Manar, the media wing of Hezbol­lah, has long broad­cast ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda dis­guised as news to the Arab speak­ing world. After being dropped by two of the largest satel­lite providers in the Ara­bic speak­ing world, Arab­Sat (which dropped the chan­nel in Decem­ber 2015) and Nile­Sat (which dropped the chan­nel in April 2016), Hezbol­lah is rely­ing increas­ingly on online plat­forms to main­tain its viewer base. As a result, removal of al-Manar pres­ence from online plat­forms at this time has the poten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly dis­rupt the group’s reach and impact.

Al-Manar, des­ig­nated by the U.S. State Depart­ment as a Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Global Ter­ror­ist Entity, cur­rently has offi­cial pres­ence on a num­ber of U.S.-based social media and web plat­forms, most of which are linked from al-Manar’s offi­cial web­site. ADL has alerted the com­pa­nies to the group’s presence.

ADL reg­u­larly alerts Inter­net com­pa­nies to ter­ror­ist exploita­tion of their ser­vices, and most com­pa­nies quickly remove the con­tent when alerted. We have informed the rel­e­vant com­pa­nies of these exam­ples of Hezbol­lah use of their plat­forms and antic­i­pate that they will remove the con­tent once again.

Twit­ter

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Twit­ter han­dle, @almanarnews, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The account appears to have been cre­ated in July 2010, and has upwards of 334,000 fol­low­ers. Accord­ing to the page descrip­tion, “Al-Manar web­site News and pro­grams. Al-Manar TV is con­sid­ered the tele­vi­sion of the Lebanese resis­tance against the Israeli occu­pa­tion.” The descrip­tion also includes a link to live stream­ing of al-Manar broad­casts on the al-Manar website.

Most of the Tweets on the al-Manar Twit­ter feed include state­ments pro­mot­ing vio­lence against the U.S., Israel, and other enti­ties Hezbol­lah con­sid­ers to be its ene­mies. It also fea­tures state­ments and speeches of Has­san Nas­ral­lah, the head of Hezbollah.

Spe­cific exam­ples of Tweets include one Tweet from May 18, 2016 that stated,“The Amer­i­can pres­ence is an occu­pa­tion that must be fought against,” one Tweet from Octo­ber 8, 2015 with an image show­ing a stabbed Israeli civil­ian and a mis­lead­ing cap­tion that reads: “an Israeli sol­dier stabbed in occu­pied Jerusalem;” and a link to an arti­cle that praises stab­bing attacks against Israelis. Another Tweet from Jan­u­ary 28, 2016 states, “The mis­siles of the Resis­tance (Hezbol­lah) dis­turb Washington…[because] Israel’s safety comes first [for the U.S.].

 

An al-Manar Tweet showing a stabbed Israeli civilian. The caption reads, "an Israeli soldier stabbed in occupied Jerusalem"

An al-Manar Tweet show­ing a stabbed Israeli civil­ian. The cap­tion reads, “an Israeli sol­dier stabbed in occu­pied Jerusalem”

Face­book

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Face­book page titled al-Manar Chan­nel – the Offi­cial Page (in Ara­bic). The page can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site and has over 4,000 fol­low­ers. The page dis­plays al-Manar’s offi­cial log and posts news about Hezbol­lah and links to live stream­ing of al-Manar television.

As on the Twit­ter feed, most of the posts on the al-Manar Face­book page include state­ments pro­mot­ing vio­lence against the U.S., Israel, and other enti­ties Hezbol­lah con­sid­ers to be its ene­mies, as well as Islamic extrem­ist views and state­ments and speeches by Has­san Nasrallah.

Spe­cific exam­ples of posts include a car­toon posted on May 18, 2016 depict­ing an Amer­i­can sol­dier sup­port­ing ISIS and a post encour­ag­ing stab­bing ter­ror­ist attacks in Israel with an image of a knife cov­ered with the Pales­tin­ian flag with the Ara­bic text stat­ing, “stab it in the heart of your enemy.”

A cartoon posted on al-Manar's Facebook page depicting a U.S. soldier supporting ISIS.

A car­toon posted on al-Manar’s Face­book page depict­ing a U.S. sol­dier sup­port­ing ISIS.

One of the posts, also dated May 18, 2016, includes an admis­sion of the group’s vio­la­tion of Facebook’s terms of ser­vice. It reads, “To our hon­or­able and beloved page vis­i­tors, no mat­ter how many pages they shut down. We will always be the voice of resis­tance which doesn’t know defeat or sub­mis­sion.  We invite you, oh you who love resis­tance, resis­tance fight­ers, and the leader of the resis­tance to stand right in the face of false­hood to call upon rel­a­tives and friends to actively par­tic­i­pate in this page, which thanks to God and thanks to your efforts you will con­tinue and win.”

Insta­gram 

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Insta­gram page called alma­narnews. The page has 873 fol­low­ers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The page’s Arabic-language descrip­tion states, “Al-Manar web­site News and pro­grams,  al-Manar TV is con­sid­ered the tele­vi­sion of the Lebanese resis­tance against the  Israeli occu­pa­tion.” The descrip­tion also pro­vides a link for users to “watch the TV chan­nel broadcast.”

The Insta­gram page dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to live stream­ing of the ter­ror­ist entity’s TV broadcast.

YouTube

Al-Manar has an offi­cial YouTube page called Al Manar Chan­nel 3. The page has 9,669 fol­low­ers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The page descrip­tion calls it, “The offi­cial page of the Lebanese Media Group al-Manar channel-Lebanon.”

The YouTube page dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to media mate­ri­als pro­duced by al-Manar. The chan­nel also has a live stream of the al-Manar TV sta­tion and includes posts and videos fea­tur­ing Hezbollah’s mil­i­tary operations.

What­sApp

Al-Manar has an offi­cial What­sApp ser­vice called Al-Manar chan­nel What­sApp ser­vice, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The al-Manar What­sApp ser­vice page also links to other al-Manar social media accounts, includ­ing Face­book, Twit­ter and YouTube. The ser­vice pro­vides sub­scrip­tion options for groups of five or more peo­ple, or for individuals.

The al-Manar WhatsApp service

The al-Manar What­sApp service

ADL pre­vi­ously exposed Hezbol­lah use of What­sApp in 2014, includ­ing attempts by the group to inter­est World­Cup sup­port­ers in its ser­vices via WhatsApp.

Telegram

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Telegram chan­nel called alma­narnews, which has 17,538 fol­low­ers and is acces­si­ble via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The chan­nel descrip­tion states that it is “The offi­cial account of al-Manar chan­nel on Telegram” and pro­vides a link for users to “watch the TV chan­nel broad­cast” on the al-Manar website.

The chan­nel dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to posts and videos from the satel­lite station.

Posts on the chan­nel include exten­sive news about ter­ror attacks in Israel, includ­ing posts that read, “Occu­pied Pales­tine: The mar­tyr­dom of the one who exe­cuted the stab­bing oper­a­tion in Jerusalem,” and “The enemy’s media: an Israeli attacked in a stab­bing oper­a­tion in Israel.”

On May 20, AlMa­nar also launched two addi­tional Telegram chan­nels, called Alma­narnews­bot and Almanarnews_bot, pre­sum­ably as backup chan­nels in case their orig­i­nal chan­nel is removed from the plat­form. They have already begun to post news from the Alma­narnews­bot chan­nel, but the Almanarnews_bot chan­nel is inac­tive as of this posting.

Apps for mobile devices

In the past two weeks, ADL has dis­cov­ered and alerted plat­forms to the devel­op­ment of new apps that enable al-Manar stream­ing for mobile phones. These included an app on iTunes, which iTunes has since removed, and an app on Google Play. Al-manar sub­se­quently posted a state­ment on Twit­ter rec­om­mend­ing that its Apple users use Telegram to get news and alerts, rather than iTunes. There is rea­son to assume that Hezbol­lah will con­tinue attempt­ing to cre­ate new apps, as it has done mul­ti­ple times in the past.

Al-Manar's Tweet advising Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

Al-Manar’s Tweet advis­ing Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

ADL has con­sis­tently doc­u­mented Hezbollah’s cre­ation of apps for mobile devices and alerted plat­forms to their exis­tence each time. Infor­ma­tion on each of these instances is avail­able at the fol­low­ing links:

Hezbol­lah on Your IPhone: There’s an App for That (2012)

Hezbol­lah Re-Launches Apps; Blames ADL For Fail­ure Of Pre­vi­ous Effort (2012)

Hezbol­lah Mil­i­tary Branch Offers Free Pod­casts On iTunes (2013)

Hezbol­lah Is Still Try­ing To Broad­cast Mes­sages To Your Hand­held (2014)

Hezbol­lah Android App Re-Launched For The Third Time (2014)

ADL also reg­u­larly mon­i­tors online pres­ence and pro­pa­ganda by other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing Hamas, ISIS and al Qaeda.

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May 19, 2016 1

Latest Issue of Inspire Magazine Encourages Small Scale Attacks

Inspire 15 cover image

Inspire 15

The 15th issue of InspireAl Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine, released on May 14, pro­vides read­ers with instruc­tions for mur­der­ing “the intel­li­gentsia, eco­nomic and influ­en­tial per­son­al­i­ties of Amer­ica.” Such attacks, claims the mag­a­zine, are “easy options that do not require huge efforts or man power, but the result is par­al­lel to the big oper­a­tions or even more.”

This incite­ment to kill indi­vid­u­als is the same attack strat­egy that was pro­vided in the 14th issue of Inspire mag­a­zine (released in Sep­tem­ber 2015), but the 15th issue pro­vides addi­tional sug­ges­tions for mak­ing bombs to con­duct the assas­si­na­tions, includ­ing pack­age bombs, small bombs under cars, and bombs that can be attached to a doorframe.

As in pre­vi­ous issues of Inspire, the mag­a­zine uses anti-Semitism and resent­ment of Israel to mobi­lize the anger and sup­port needed to encour­age indi­vid­u­als to sus­tain AQAP and per­pe­trate attacks. ADL pub­lished an updated report on anti-Semitism in Islamic extrem­ist pro­pa­ganda in 2015.

This exploita­tion of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sen­ti­ment was par­tic­u­larly evi­dent in the arti­cle, “O Knife Rev­o­lu­tion, Head Toward Amer­ica.” In it, AQAP strives to export the cur­rent mode of Pales­tin­ian ter­ror attacks in Israel to the U.S. by ask­ing, “Where are the zeal­ous Mus­lims in Amer­ica, who clearly see their Mus­lim broth­ers in Pales­tine being tor­tured? It is because of this painful tor­ture, that the blessed Knife Upris­ing has sur­faced. Then way is it that you just sit and wait, with your hands tied up?”

That arti­cle fur­ther uti­lizes anti-Semitism to encour­age attacks against the U.S. “It is no secret that the first guardian, sup­porter, and great­est inciter to the Jews are the Amer­i­cans,” it states. It goes on to directly threaten Jews, ask­ing “How many Jews are there in Amer­ica, Europe and other kufr (apos­tate) coun­tries? So take mat­ters in hand and fol­low the advice of your Prophet, if any of you gets hold of a Jew any­where, let him fin­ish him off.”

An article in Inspire 15 Encourages Domestic Attacks

An arti­cle in Inspire 15 encour­ages knife attacks in the U.S. mod­eled after attacks under­taken by Pales­tini­ans in Israel.

Sim­i­larly, the arti­cle, “Let us Unite for Pales­tine,” clearly attempts to trans­fer anger against Israel to attacks against the U.S. by assert­ing “The lib­er­a­tion of Jerusalem…requires…two things: Firstly: Strik­ing the West…. Sec­ondly: Estab­lish­ing a Mus­lim state in Egypt and the Lev­ant.” AQAP is more inter­ested in attack­ing the West and secur­ing a foothold in Egypt and Syria than in attack­ing Israel, so the mag­a­zine tries to con­vince its sup­port­ers that these goals are inher­ently a part of destroy­ing the State of Israel.

Yet another arti­cle, “Inside Obama’s Ratio­nal­ity,” sug­gests a con­spir­acy the­ory of Jew­ish influ­ence in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics: “every­one com­petes in pleas­ing the Jews, even the so-called ratio­nal Pres­i­dents com­pete with each other in prov­ing who is the most biased, irra­tional, par­ti­san pres­i­dent when it comes to sup­port­ing the Jews.”

Other arti­cles directly pro­mote any sort of lone wolf attacks against the U.S., while striv­ing to ensure that Al Qaeda can receive credit for indi­vid­ual actions. The arti­cle “Jihad Upon Clear Insight” states “one can ben­e­fit from the pub­li­ca­tion of As-Sahab foun­da­tion (an Al Qaeda media foundation)…It explains the impor­tance of lone jihad and its impact upon the enemy…. And he can also ben­e­fit from Inspire Mag­a­zine. A Lone Mujahid and oth­ers should know that this knowl­edge is not less impor­tant than the sci­ence of weaponry and how to use them, how to make explo­sives and charges.”

As noted, the cover arti­cle, “Pro­fes­sional Assas­si­na­tions,” pro­vides instruc­tions for sur­veilling influ­en­tial indi­vid­u­als and then build­ing bombs to mur­der them.

Inspire is per­haps the most noto­ri­ous Al Qaeda pro­pa­ganda vehi­cle. It has played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of mul­ti­ple domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing), Jose Pimentel, who attempted a bomb­ing in New York, and Abdel Daoud, who attempted a bomb­ing in Chicago.

 

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