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February 25, 2015 6

White Supremacist Gangs: A Growing Problem in Missouri

missouri-white-supremacist-gangs

Mis­souri white suprema­cist gangs

Mis­souri has had long expe­ri­ence with white suprema­cists rang­ing from neo-Nazis to the Ku Klux Klan, but in recent years a new threat has emerged in the Show Me state:   white suprema­cist prison gangs.   Some states have been plagued by such gangs for years, but until recently, Mis­souri had only a lim­ited expe­ri­ence with them.

Now, how­ever, there are a num­ber of white suprema­cist gangs active in Mis­souri, typ­i­cally emerg­ing in pris­ons and jails, then expand­ing onto the streets. These gangs com­bine the crim­i­nal know-how of orga­nized crime with the big­oted ide­ol­ogy of hate groups.

Law enforce­ment has been increas­ingly con­cerned about the spread of such gangs in Mis­souri. Unfor­tu­nately, recent events have jus­ti­fied that con­cern. On Jan­u­ary 26, 2015, a mem­ber of the South­west Honkies gang, Joshua Lee Hagood, shot a Spring­field police offi­cer in the head while police were inves­ti­gat­ing a sus­pi­cious van. The offi­cer sus­tained career-ending injuries. This was actu­ally the sec­ond offi­cer shoot­ing in Spring­field related to the gang. In 2013, Honkies mem­ber Mar­tin Potts wounded another offi­cer dur­ing a shootout before offi­cers fatally shot Potts.

Police have not been the only Mis­souri­ans at risk. In Feb­ru­ary, two South­west Honkies mem­bers, Aaron Williams and Austin Pierce, were charged with a hate crime after allegedly threat­en­ing to kill an African-American woman and her chil­dren while try­ing to break into her house. In Jan­u­ary, a mem­ber of the Joplin Honkies received a seven-year prison sen­tence for assault and aban­don­ing a corpse.

Gangs like the Joplin and South­west Honkies are grow­ing in Mis­souri. Accom­pa­ny­ing that growth is increased crime, typ­i­cally tra­di­tional crimes like home inva­sions or drug-related crime (gangs are often involved with the metham­phet­a­mine trade). Crim­i­nal gain tends to trump white supremacy, but gangs can engage in hate-related vio­lence, too. Gangs often embrace a cruder form of white supremacy than neo-Nazi or Klan groups, but have larger memberships.

There are five main white suprema­cist gangs oper­at­ing in Missouri:

  • Sacred Sep­a­ratist Group (SSG): The Anti-Defamation League first encoun­tered the SSG in 2005, but it has grown con­sid­er­ably in recent years. Like some of the other gangs, it orig­i­nated in the West­ern Mis­souri Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter. ADL has iden­ti­fied mem­bers of this fairly large gang from all over Mis­souri. SSG mem­bers have asso­ci­ated with mem­bers of all the gangs listed here.
  • Joplin Honkies: The Joplin Honkies orig­i­nated behind bars around the same time as SSG. Orig­i­nally, mem­bers called them­selves the Joplin Boys. The Honkies are con­cen­trated in south­west Mis­souri, espe­cially around Joplin and Spring­field.   The ADL has iden­ti­fied dozens of active mem­bers of the Joplin Honkies, but their true num­bers are higher. Off­shoot gangs include the South­west Honkies and the 417 Honkies.
  • Peck­er­wood Mid­west: Mem­bers of this gang have been iden­ti­fied in both east­ern and west­ern Mis­souri, as well as across the south­ern part of the state (Spring­field to Cape Girardeau). ADL has iden­ti­fied at least 34 mem­bers and asso­ciates of this gang, though again, actual num­bers are con­sid­er­ably higher.
  • Fam­ily Val­ues: Fam­ily Val­ues is a smaller gang and not all mem­bers are hard­core white suprema­cists (some even asso­ciate with non-whites). How­ever, a num­ber of iden­ti­fied mem­bers do use com­mon white suprema­cist sym­bols such as swastikas, SS bolts, 14 and 88. A num­ber of gang mem­bers live in or around St. Louis and Springfield.
  • Aryan Cir­cle (AC):The Aryan Cir­cle is not native to Mis­souri but to Texas, where it is one of the largest white suprema­cist prison gangs. It has expanded into a num­ber of other states, recently mov­ing into Mis­souri largely as a result of recruit­ment from Indi­ana and gang mem­bers from fed­eral prison who returned or moved to Mis­souri. ADL has iden­ti­fied at least 23 active mem­bers and asso­ciates of Aryan Cir­cle in Mis­souri, espe­cially in north­east Missouri.

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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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February 17, 2015 1

New ADL Report: Homegrown Islamic Extremism In 2014

homegrown-terrorism-isis-imageThe rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its increas­ingly sophis­ti­cated social media com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment strate­gies influ­enced a diverse group of peo­ple from around the world, includ­ing from the United States, through­out 2014.

The ADL’s new report, Home­grown Islamic Extrem­ism in 2014: The Rise of ISIS and Sus­tained Online Rad­i­cal­iza­tion, presents key find­ings and trends that result from ISIS’s increas­ing reach, and its ram­i­fi­ca­tions on domes­tic security.

The report describes how at least 17 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents moti­vated by the ide­ol­ogy prop­a­gated by ISIS and other Islamic ter­ror­ist groups over­seas were charged in 2014 with terror-related offenses.

Three oth­ers were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing died while fight­ing with ter­ror­ist groups abroad and an addi­tional five minors are believed to have attempted to join such groups but were not charged. Of these 25, nearly all engaged to some degree with online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda and 19 are believed to have attempted to join or aid ISIS.

These indi­vid­u­als range in age from 15 to 44, with 11 in their twen­ties and 7 in their teens. At least one quar­ter were con­verts to Islam. 32% were women.

The report also draws on find­ings from pre­vi­ous years, not­ing for exam­ple that res­i­dents from 20 states have been charged in con­nec­tion with Islamic extrem­ism since 2012.

In addi­tion, the report describes the new phe­nom­e­non of crim­i­nal acts that have not been defined by author­i­ties as ter­ror­ism but that have been influ­enced by ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda – includ­ing mur­ders in New Jer­sey and Okla­homa and an attempted mur­der in New York in 2014.

Finally, it ana­lyzes cur­rent ter­ror­ist nar­ra­tives and recruit­ing tech­niques, includ­ing their use of social media to attract increas­ing num­bers of fol­low­ers and the way anti-Semitism is used to moti­vate recruits.

The full report is avail­able on the ADL web­site.

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