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May 4, 2015 1

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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April 28, 2015 0

U.S. Islamic Extremism Arrests In 2015 Exceed 2014 Numbers

Christopher Lee Cornell, arrested in January 2015

Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell, arrested in Jan­u­ary 2015

Thirty-one indi­vid­u­als liv­ing in the U.S. have been linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy in the first four months of 2015. This sur­passes the total in each of the past two years: 26 indi­vid­u­als  liv­ing in the U.S. were linked to such ter­ror­ism in all of 2014 and 22 in 2013.

ADL has issued a new report that sheds light on the demo­graph­ics of these indi­vid­u­als and may pro­vide con­text for think­ing about the approx­i­mately 180 unknown Amer­i­cans believed to have trav­eled to join the con­flict in Syria and Iraq, an unknown num­ber of whom may have joined ter­ror­ist organizations.

The report details the affil­i­a­tions, plans and aims of U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by the ide­olo­gies of Islamic extremism.

About 81% of the U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­olo­gies since 2014 have sup­ported ISIS, influ­enced at least in part by the group’s sophis­ti­cated use of social media com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment, as well as by the high vol­ume of cov­er­age sur­round­ing its activ­ity and the ongo­ing pres­ence of con­flict in Syria and Iraq.

Tairod Pugh, arrested in March 2015

Tairod Pugh, arrested in March 2015

Of those indi­vid­u­als linked to ter­ror­ism in 2015, 16 indi­vid­u­als are believed to have trav­eled or planned to travel to join ter­ror groups abroad, 3 are believed to have attempted to aid other Amer­i­cans in join­ing ISIS, and 7 were attempt­ing to fund ISIS.

Eleven of the indi­vid­u­als were also engaged in domes­tic plots. Five out of the 7 plots dis­cussed were directed against mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions or per­son­nel – long­stand­ing tar­gets for such vio­lence.

The report also exam­ines demo­graphic sta­tis­tics of the indi­vid­u­als, includ­ing age, gen­der, eth­nic­ity and geo­graphic distribution.

The indi­vid­u­als arrested in 2015 range in age from 16 to 47.

At least seven of them, or just under one-quarter, were con­verts to Islam. That per­cent­age is com­pa­ra­ble to the per­cent­age in 2014.

Nine of the 31 indi­vid­u­als had fam­ily mem­bers who have also been impli­cated in Islamic extrem­ist activity.

Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic, arrested in February 2015

Ramiz and Sed­ina Hodzic, arrested in Feb­ru­ary 2015

Five of them were women, result­ing in a total of 14 women linked to Islamic extrem­ism since the start of 2014. Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, but these num­bers rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant increase, which may result in part from direct recruit­ment of women by ISIS.

Islamic extrem­ism related arrests in 2015 have taken place in 11 states, includ­ing 6 indi­vid­u­als arrested in New York, 4 each in

Min­nesota and Illi­nois, 3 in Mis­souri and 2 each in Ohio, Cal­i­for­nia and Kansas One Amer­i­can was arrested in Pak­istan but was orig­i­nally from Texas.

The full report is avail­able on the ADL website.

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April 27, 2015 12

Members of Congress Invite Anti-Muslim Bigot Geert Wilders to DC Events

Geert Wilders, the Dutch Free­dom Party leader and one of the most noto­ri­ous anti-Muslim big­ots in the world, announced that this week two Mem­bers of Con­gress will host him at events in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Steve King and Louie Gohmert are report­edly help­ing pro­vide a plat­form for Wilders at two events, a break­fast spon­sored by the Con­ser­v­a­tive Oppor­tu­nity Soci­ety, founded by for­mer Speaker of the House Newt Gin­grich, and later in the day at a reception.

ADL wrote to Rep­re­sen­ta­tives King and Gohmert to make sure they know that Wilders’ rhetoric, com­par­ing the Mus­lim reli­gion itself to Nazism, crosses the bound­aries of civil­ity and reli­gious tolerance.

Wilders rou­tinely says “Islam is evil” and calls for the clos­ing down of Mus­lim schools and mosques, as he did in Novem­ber 2014 at the most recent David Horowitz Free­dom Cen­ter Restora­tion Week­end in Florida. Wilders con­sid­ers every Mus­lim an extrem­ist, stat­ing that “accord­ing to the Qur’an, there are no mod­er­ate Mus­lims.” He fur­ther claims that the fact most Mus­lims are law-abiding cit­i­zens and have no con­nec­tion to ter­ror­ism is irrel­e­vant, because Islam is an expan­sion­ist and aggres­sive ide­ol­ogy.  His pro­file as a pur­veyor of ugly anti-Muslim big­otry went global in March 2008, when Wilders released an online film called Fitna. The film sim­plis­ti­cally depicts Islam as a vio­lent reli­gion, inter­spers­ing verses from the Qur’an with footage of ter­ror­ist violence.

Even a rad­i­cally anti-Muslim law­maker like Wilders is enti­tled to express his opin­ions.  But Amer­i­cans are enti­tled to expect their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives to avoid pro­mot­ing and legit­imiz­ing those odi­ous ideas.

Another instance of such deroga­tory and hate­ful rhetoric by Mem­bers of their cau­cus about immi­grants drew swift con­dem­na­tion by House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and then Major­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R–VA) as well as Judi­ciary Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Speaker Boehner called on leg­is­la­tors to reject hate­ful com­ments that he said were “deeply offen­sive and wrong and said they did “not reflect the val­ues of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or the Repub­li­can Party.”

We hope Speaker Boehner and the House lead­er­ship take note of this page from their own play­book and fol­low their own exam­ple again.

Con­fronting vio­lent extrem­ism from Islamist move­ments is an urgent and seri­ous task for gov­ern­ments and law­mak­ers all over the world.

Pro­vid­ing a plat­form for the basest kind demo­niz­ing of Mus­lims, or of any faith, does lit­tle to make Amer­i­cans safer. America’s high­est ideals of reli­gious lib­erty and the need to con­front ter­ror­ism from groups like ISIS and al Qaida with real pol­icy solu­tions com­pels Con­gress to do better.

 

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