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April 2, 2015 0

NY Arrests Put Spotlight on Female Islamic Extremists

Update — 4/6/15: Another woman, Keonna Thomas of Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia, was charged on April 3, 2015 with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Two Brook­lyn women arrested today on charges of con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass destruc­tion are the 11th and 12th U.S. women linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism since 2014. Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, but their num­bers have dra­mat­i­cally increased since 2014: ADL has doc­u­mented 12 female U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism in the last 15 months – the same as the total num­ber of women in the 11 years between 2002 and 2013.

A poem by Asia Siddiqui published in the extremist magazine Jihad Recollections

A poem by Asia Sid­diqui in the extrem­ist mag­a­zine Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions

Noelle Velentzas, a 28-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Asia Sid­diqui, a 31-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Velentzas’s for­mer room­mate, allegedly researched how to make explo­sive devices and pur­chased the mate­ri­als nec­es­sary to do so. Although court doc­u­ments do not indi­cate that they had cho­sen a tar­get, they expressed a pref­er­ence for attack­ing law enforce­ment and U.S. gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary facilities.

The two made clear that they were moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas praised the 9/11 attacks and repeat­edly stated that her heroes are Osama bin Laden and his men­tor, Abdul­lah Azzam.

More­over, Velentzas and Sid­diqui have an exten­sive his­tory of engag­ing with rad­i­cal extrem­ism online. In 2006, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Sid­diqui “became close with Samir Khan,” who went on to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) and, together with AQAP pro­pa­gan­dist Anwar al-Awlaki, founded Inspire mag­a­zine, the group’s pri­mary English-language mag­a­zine. In 2009, Sid­diqui wrote a poem that was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions, an ear­lier mag­a­zine that Khan produced.

Extrem­ist mag­a­zines includ­ing Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and Inspire have actively encour­aged sub­mis­sions from read­ers in the hope that hav­ing their work pub­lished will lead the read­ers to become fur­ther entrenched in the extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tion. Sid­diqui her­self allegedly expressed sup­port for Mohamed Osman Mohamud, another Amer­i­can who was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and who went on to attempt a domes­tic attack – in his case, the attempted bomb­ing of the Port­land, OR Christ­mas tree light­ing cer­e­mony in 2010.

Other Amer­i­cans that have writ­ten for Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions include Younes Abdul­lah Muham­mad (aka Jesse Cur­tis Mor­ton), a co-founder of now-defunct extrem­ist group Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim. Muham­mad is cur­rently in prison, hav­ing pleaded guilty to threat­en­ing the cre­ators of South Park.

Sid­diqui and Velentzas also appeared to have been inspired by other domes­tic attacks, includ­ing the Boston Marathon bomb­ing.

Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Sid­diqui told an under­cover infor­mant “Velentzas has been obsessed with pres­sure cook­ers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013 and often makes com­ments about pres­sure cook­ers,” and Velentzas told the infor­mant that “she had recently received a pres­sure cooker as a present, and joked about cook­ing some­thing in the pres­sure cooker, then laughed and added, ‘food,’ – a ref­er­ence to explo­sive materials.”

Image from an article on making car bombs in the  Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Image from an arti­cle on mak­ing car bombs in the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Like the Tsar­naev broth­ers, who are accused of hav­ing per­pe­trated the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, Sid­diqui and Velentzas attempted to learn how to make bombs from Inspire mag­a­zine. Refer­ring to the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire that pro­vided instruc­tions for the con­struc­tion and place­ment of car bombs, Velentzas allegedly stated that “Inspire mag­a­zine was useful…to learn how to ‘valet’ his/her car and how to cook ‘food.’” She reg­u­larly used the word “food” as a euphemism for explosives.

The two also allegedly watched ISIS pro­pa­ganda videos online, includ­ing behead­ing and recruit­ment videos, and expressed affin­ity for ISIS. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas stated that she wanted them to be referred to as “cit­i­zens of the Islamic State,” and “that attacks on ISIS were tan­ta­mount to attacks on her own state.”

Velentzas was also report­edly friends on Face­book with Tairod Pugh, a New Jer­sey man arrested in March for attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Sev­en­teen U.S. res­i­dents in total have been arrested on Islamic extrem­ism moti­vated ter­ror charges in 2015, 6 of whom were from New York State. If arrests con­tinue at the cur­rent rate, it will reflect a marked increase of arrests over the last three years, cor­re­spond­ing to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its aggres­sive recruit­ment and pro­pa­ganda campaigns.

Twenty-five U.S. res­i­dents in total were linked to Islamic extrem­ism in 2014, and 14 in 2013, although sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of indi­vid­u­als not iden­ti­fied are believed to have trav­eled abroad to join ter­ror­ist groups.

This morning’s arrest also marked the fourth instance of a domes­tic attack plot in 2015. In Jan­u­ary, Ohio res­i­dent Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. Capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad and in Feb­ru­ary, New York City res­i­dents Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov were arrested for attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack if they were unable to do so, and in March, Hasan and Jonas Edmonds were arrested for allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS and plot­ting an attack against a mil­i­tary base.

Notably, there were no known domes­tic plots in 2014; the cur­rent increase may be related to an increase in ISIS pro­pa­ganda encour­ag­ing such attacks.

Thirty-five U.S. res­i­dents have been pub­licly linked to or cited inspi­ra­tion from ISIS since 2014.

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March 27, 2015 1

9 People Linked To Islamic Extremism Cases In Illinois Since 2012

Hasan Edmonds and Jonas Edmonds

Court sketch of Hasan and Jonas Edmonds

Hasan and Jonas Edmonds, arrested yes­ter­day for con­spir­ing to travel abroad to join the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and orches­trate an attack in the U.S., are the 8th and 9th peo­ple from Illi­nois linked to Islamic extrem­ist activ­ity since 2012.

Hasan Edmonds, a 22-year-old con­vert to Islam and a mem­ber of the National Guard, and his cousin, 29-year-old Jonas (Yunus) Edmonds told under­cover inves­ti­ga­tors that they wanted to travel to ISIS-controlled ter­ri­tory with their fam­i­lies and become fight­ers but that, fail­ing that, they wanted to attack the U.S. When Jonas Edmonds was unable to acquire a pass­port because of a past felony con­vic­tion, Hasan Edmonds con­tin­ued his own travel plans while assist­ing Jonas in get­ting mate­ri­als for and plan­ning an attack on the mil­i­tary base where Hasan trained.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Hasan posted pro-ISIS state­ments and YouTube videos on his Face­book pro­file. He and Jonas were also vocal about their plans and beliefs in con­ver­sa­tions with an under­cover agent whom they met online. “Hon­estly we would love to do some­thing like the brother in Paris did,” wrote Hasan Edmonds, in a ref­er­ence to the attacks on the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine and kosher gro­cery store in Paris this Jan­u­ary. “Hit here and then go to dawlah (ISIS con­trolled ter­ri­tory) inshaAl­lah (God will­ing). We’ll fight wher­ever need be…. Sha­hada (mar­tyr­dom) is a bless­ing.” In other con­ver­sa­tions, he stated, “If I find myself stuck here [in the U.S.]. I intend to take advan­tage of being so close to the kuf­far (apos­tates, used here to indi­cate non-Muslims),” and, “The best of mankind are the mujahideen (fight­ers). May Allah place me among their ranks.”

In speak­ing of plan­ning an attack, he wrote, “We can surely do some­thing. Even the kaf­firs (apos­tates) here are fight­ing the police and gov­ern­ment so we can really strick (sic) harder in tue (sic) cause of Allah,” and, “It would be hard to pull off a lager (sic) scale attack on the gov­ern­ment but police sta­tions and courts are pretty easy and its been done before by kufar (apos­tates) some­times just one person.”

The cousins’ state­ments also attest to the effec­tive­ness of ISIS’s recent strat­egy of devel­op­ing world­wide fran­chises. “When the women are under the pro­tec­tion of the dawlah (ISIS) under any province under the dawlahs rule (any coun­try) we are ready for what­ever our orders may be,” Hasan Edmonds told an under­cover agent accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. In another con­text he allegedly stated, “I am fine being in Egypt, Sham, or Libya to be hon­est akhi (brother, mean­ing com­pan­ion). I just want to answer the call.”

Groups includ­ing Ansar Beyt al Maqdis in Egypt and Boko Haram in Nige­ria have pledged alle­giance to ISIS in recent months, and ISIS strives to cre­ate the impres­sion that it has a global pres­ence in its propaganda.

ISIS has also been encour­ag­ing its adher­ents to either under­take domes­tic attacks or travel abroad in recent months.

This mes­sage has been reflected in the actions of its sup­port­ers. In 2015, the Edmonds plot is the third instance of ISIS sup­port­ers in the U.S. plan­ning a domes­tic attack after unsuc­cess­fully attempt­ing to join ISIS. In Jan­u­ary, Ohio res­i­dent Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad and in Feb­ru­ary, New York City res­i­dents Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov were arrested for attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack if they were unable to do so. In addi­tion, 2015 has seen 13 U.S. res­i­dents (includ­ing the Edmonds cousins) charged with mate­r­ial sup­port for ISIS.

33 U.S. res­i­dents have been pub­licly linked to ISIS since 2014.

Other Illi­nois res­i­dents accused of attempt­ing to aid for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions or carry out ter­ror attacks in the U.S.  include Jamishid Muh­torov, arrested in 2012 for pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to the Chechen ter­ror group Islamic Jihad Union; Abdel Daoud, arrested in 2012 for plan­ning a domes­tic attack; Abdel­lah Tounisi, arrested in 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusra; Mohammed Hamza Khan and his brother and sis­ter, detained in 2014 for attempted to join ISIS (Khan’s brother and sis­ter are minors and have not been charged); and Mediha Medy Sal­kice­vic and Jas­minka Ramic, arrested in 2015 for attempt­ing to send money to ISIS.

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March 23, 2015 1

New FBI Hate Crime Training Manual Published

This week the FBI pub­lished an updated hate crime train­ing man­ual. The excel­lent new guide is the sin­gle most impor­tant, most inclu­sive hate crime train­ing resource avail­able for law enforce­ment officials

DOJ sealThis ver­sion of the Bureau’s Hate Crime Data Col­lec­tion Guide­lines and Train­ing Man­ual  includes new def­i­n­i­tions, train­ing sce­nar­ios, and a spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tions sec­tion to help police offi­cials effec­tively iden­tify and report the new cat­e­gories of crime man­dated for col­lec­tion for 2015 – includ­ing hate crimes directed at Arabs, Sikhs and Hin­dus. The first edi­tion of the man­ual, pub­lished in early 2013, included guid­ance on how to define and iden­tify gen­der and gen­der iden­tity hate crimes, based on require­ments set forth in the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act(HCPA).

The FBI has been track­ing and doc­u­ment­ing hate crimes reported from fed­eral, state, and local law enforce­ment offi­cials since 1991 under the Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act of 1990 (HCSA). The Bureau’s annual HCSA reports pro­vide the best sin­gle national snap­shot of bias-motivated crim­i­nal activ­ity in the United States. The Act has also proven to be a pow­er­ful mech­a­nism to con­front vio­lent big­otry, increas­ing pub­lic aware­ness of the prob­lem and spark­ing improve­ments in the local response of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to hate vio­lence – since in order to effec­tively report hate crimes, police offi­cials must be trained to iden­tify and respond to them.

Although the newest data from the 2013 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act report showed hate crimes have been declin­ing, the num­bers are still dis­turbingly high.  The addi­tion of anti-Arab, anti-Sikh, and anti-Hindu hate crimes for 2015 demon­strates the Bureau’s com­mit­ment to pre­vent­ing and coun­ter­act­ing these crimes.  After the tragic mur­der of six Sikh wor­ship­pers in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin in 2012, col­lect­ing data on Arab, Sikh, and Hindu vic­tims of hate crimes became even more urgent. This updated FBI hate crime train­ing man­ual is a cru­cial step in the work to address these crimes.

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