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July 17, 2015 0

Military Sites And Personnel: A Common Target for Islamic Extremists

The Chattanooga recruiting center attacked by Abdulazeez on July 16, 2015

The recruit­ing cen­ter attacked by Abdu­lazeez on July 16, 2015

The motive behind Moham­mad Yousef Abdulazeez’s attack on two mil­i­tary sites in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee, that killed four Marines yes­ter­day remains unclear. His actions, how­ever, are con­sis­tent with other domes­tic attacks and plots car­ried out by U.S. res­i­dents moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ideologies.

Mil­i­tary sites and per­son­nel are a com­mon tar­get for Islamic extrem­ists in the U.S. and ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda has encour­aged vio­lence against mil­i­tary tar­gets. An Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS) pro­pa­ganda video released April 14, 2015, for exam­ple, fea­tured images of dead and wounded sol­diers with the cap­tions, “muti­lated sol­diers are com­ing back to your home­land close to des­per­a­tion. Eyes are being lost, bod­ies with­out legs, we want your blood….”

Two of the three deadly Islamic extrem­ist attacks in the U.S. since 2009, (the Ft. Hood shoot­ing and the shoot­ing at the Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas army recruit­ing cen­ter) were specif­i­cally directed at mil­i­tary targets.

  • Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad was 23 years old when he killed one sol­dier and injured another dur­ing a drive by shoot­ing at a mil­i­tary recruit­ing office in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas. Muham­mad, a con­vert to Islam, admit­ted shoot­ing the uni­formed sol­diers “because of what they had done to Mus­lims in the past” and said that he “would have killed more sol­diers had they been in the park­ing lot.” He also report­edly admit­ted that he was angry about the killing of Mus­lims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to the Lit­tle Rock shoot­ing, he had thrown a fire­bomb at a rabbi’s house  in Nashville, Ten­nessee, and fired shots at a rabbi’s home in Lit­tle Rock. Loca­tions and indi­vid­u­als that are, or are per­ceived as, Jew­ish or related to Israel are also reg­u­lar tar­gets for Islamic extrem­ist plots. Moham­mad had also attempted to carry out an addi­tional attack on a mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter in Kentucky.
  • Nidal Malik Has­san, was 39 years old when he killed 13 peo­ple at the Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, where he had been work­ing as an army psy­chi­a­trist. Prior to the attack, Has­san had been in con­tact with Anwar Al-Awlaki, the U.S. born English-language pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP), who was killed in a drone strike in 2011. In an inter­view with a Yemeni jour­nal­ist, al-Awlaki claimed that Hasan viewed him as a con­fi­dant and he said that he “blessed the act because it was against a mil­i­tary tar­get. And the sol­diers who were killed were not nor­mal sol­diers, but those who were trained and pre­pared to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.”

There have been numer­ous other plots against mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions and per­son­nel in the years since the Fort Hood and Lit­tle Rock attacks in 2009. The fol­low­ing is a sam­pling of those plots that tar­geted spe­cific mil­i­tary facil­i­ties in the U.S. since 2009:

  • April 10, 2015: John T. Booker, Jr., a 20-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Kansas was arrested and charged with attempt­ing to under­take a sui­cide attack at Ft. Riley mil­i­tary base.
  • March 26, 2015: Hasan Edmonds, a 22-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Illi­nois and Jonas Edmonds, a 29-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Illi­nois, were arrested and charged with attempt­ing to join ISIS. Court doc­u­ments indi­cate the two were also for­mu­lat­ing a plot against the National Guard armory in Juliet where Hasan, a mem­ber of the National Guard, had trained, using Hasan’s uni­form and his knowl­edge of the site.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2015: An Unnamed 16-year-old minor from South Car­olina was arrested for a plot to under­take a shoot­ing at a North Car­olina mil­i­tary insti­tu­tion and then travel to join ISIS. He was charged as a minor in pos­ses­sion of a pis­tol and sen­tenced in March 2015 to five years in juve­nile deten­tion, fol­lowed by counseling.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2, 2015: Abdi­rah­man Sheikh Mohamud, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Ohio, was arrested and charged with join­ing Jab­hat al Nusra. Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Muhamud returned to the U.S. with the inten­tion of com­mit­ting an attack against a Texas mil­i­tary base.
  • Feb­ru­ary 7, 2014: Erwin Anto­nio Rios, a 19-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was arrested in 2013 and charged with pos­ses­sion of a stolen firearm. He is believed to have been plan­ning to mur­der U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel at Ft. Bragg.
  • Sep­tem­ber 29, 2011: Rezwan Matin Fer­daus, a 26-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was arrested for plan­ning to fly explosives-packed model air­planes into the Pen­ta­gon in order to “dis­able their (the Amer­i­can) mil­i­tary center.”
  • July 27, 2011:Naser Jason Abdo, a 21-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was charged in July 2011 with plan­ning to bomb a restau­rant fre­quented by Ft. Hood per­son­nel and then to tar­get the sur­vivors with firearms. Abdo yelled “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009″ while leav­ing his first court appearance.
  • June 23, 2011: Yonathan Melaku, a 23-year-old nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen orig­i­nally from Ethiopia, was arrested after he fired shots at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the Iwo Jima memo­r­ial and the Pentagon.
  • June 23, 2011: Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a 33-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and Walli Majahidh, a 32-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen were arrested for a plot to attack a Mil­i­tary Entrance Pro­cess­ing Site in Seat­tle, Washington.
  • Decem­ber 8, 2010: Anto­nio Mar­tinez, a 21-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and a recent con­vert to Islam, was charged with attempt­ing to det­o­nate what he believed was a car bomb at an army recruit­ing cen­ter in Catonsville, Maryland.
  • Novem­ber 5, 2009: As described above, Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and army psy­chi­a­trist, killed 12 sol­diers and one civil­ian in a shoot­ing at the Fort Hood army base.
  • July 27, 2009: Daniel Patrick Boyd, a 39-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and con­vert to Islam, was arrested together with his sons, Dylan Boyd (22) and Zakariya Boyd (20), and four other North Car­olina res­i­dents — Ziyad Yaghi (21), Moham­mad Omar Aly Has­san (22), Anes Sub­a­sic (33), Hysen Sher­ifi (24) and Jude Kenan Muham­mad (20) — with con­spir­ing to mur­der U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel in con­nec­tion with Boyd’s alleged sur­veil­lance of a Marine Corps base in Quan­tico, Vir­ginia. Boyd had obtained maps of the mil­i­tary base to plan the attack and pos­sessed armor pierc­ing ammu­ni­tion to “attack the Amer­i­cans,” accord­ing to the Depart­ment of Justice.
  • June 1, 2009: As described above, Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and a con­vert to Islam, was arrested fol­low­ing his attack at the Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter that killed one soldier.
  • May 20, 2009: U.S. cit­i­zens James Cromi­tie (44), David Williams (28) and Onta Williams (32) and Hait­ian native Laguerre Payen (23) were arrested for a plot that involved plant­ing what they believed were bombs in cars out­side of the Riverdale Tem­ple and the nearby Riverdale Jew­ish Cen­ter. They also plot­ted to destroy mil­i­tary air­craft at the New York Air National Guard Base located at Stew­art Air­port in New­burgh, New York.

There have also been instances of indi­vid­u­als who dis­cussed attack­ing the mil­i­tary or mil­i­tary per­son­nel more broadly, but did not have spe­cific tar­gets. They include Asia Sid­diqui and Noelle Velentzas, who were arrested in 2015 and allegedly dis­cussed bomb­ing a mil­i­tary or gov­ern­ment tar­get;  Mufid Elfgeeh, who was arrested in 2014 and allegedly intended to shoot mil­i­tary per­son­nel; and Jose Pimentel, who was arrested in 2011 and plot­ted to attack mil­i­tary per­son­nel and other targets.

Oth­ers report­edly con­sid­ered attack­ing mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions but then chose other tar­gets instead. For exam­ple, Alexan­der Cic­colo was arrested in 2015 and allegedly dis­cussed tar­get­ing the mil­i­tary before decid­ing to attack a uni­ver­sity, and Amine El Khal­ifi, who was arrested in 2012 and allegedly dis­cussed tar­get­ing the mil­i­tary before decid­ing to attack the Cap­i­tal building.

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May 3, 2013 0

Boston Marathon Bombers Inspired By Anwar al-Awlaki

Reports are emerg­ing that Tamer­lan and Dzkhokhar Tsar­naev, the broth­ers allegedly respon­si­ble for the April 15 Boston Marathon bomb­ings, were rad­i­cal­ized, at least in part, by rad­i­cal cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.awlaki-boston-marathon-bombing-adl

Dzokhar, the sur­viv­ing Tsar­naev brother, report­edly told law enforce­ment offi­cials that he and his brother were inspired by Awlaki ser­mons avail­able online. Awlaki, an American-born Mus­lim cleric who encour­aged attacks against Amer­ica and the West, deliv­ered his ide­ol­ogy of extreme intol­er­ance and vio­lence to English-speaking online audi­ences for sev­eral years.

Prior to his death in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on Sep­tem­ber 30, 2011, Awlaki influ­enced a gen­er­a­tion of extrem­ists in the U.S and abroad. One indi­ca­tion of Awlaki’s wide­spread influ­ence is the num­ber of extrem­ists that have been found in pos­ses­sion of his mate­ri­als. In addi­tion to the Boston Bomb­ings, Awlaki’s influ­ence can be seen in at least nine other plots:

  • Quazi Nafis, who pleaded guilty to attempt­ing to bomb the New York Fed­eral Reserve Build­ing in Octo­ber 2012, report­edly watched Awlaki videos and admired him, accord­ing to friends and fed­eral officials.
  • Adel Daoud, who was arrested in Sep­tem­ber 2012 and charged with plot­ting to bomb a Chicago-area bar, shared Awlaki lec­tures with his friends.
  • Jose Pimentel, who was arrested and charged with state-level ter­ror­ism offense in New York for plan­ning to attack mil­i­tary per­son­nel and other tar­gets in Novem­ber 2011, posted at least fif­teen Awlaki videos to his YouTube chan­nel. On his web­site, Pimentel called Awlaki “The Destroyer Of The US” and posted tran­scripts of his mes­sages. Pimentel report­edly accel­er­ated his bomb-building efforts in response to Awlaki’s death in a US drone strike in Sep­tem­ber 2011.
  • Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, who was sen­tenced for his plot to attack a mil­i­tary facil­ity in Seat­tle in June 2011, sub­scribed to a YouTube chan­nel fea­tur­ing Awlaki videos.  In one of the videos Abdul-Latif made him­self, he laments that Pres­i­dent Obama “put a hit out on Anwar al-Awlaki, our brother sheikh.”
  • Anto­nio Mar­tinez, who was sen­tenced for attempt­ing to det­o­nate what he believed to be a car bomb at a Mary­land Army recruit­ing cen­ter in Decem­ber 2010, con­veyed to an under­cover infor­mant his admi­ra­tion for Awlaki.  On his Face­book pro­file, Mar­tinez sim­i­larly broad­cast his appre­ci­a­tion of Awlaki, writ­ing, “I love Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki for the sake of ALLAH.  A real inspi­ra­tion for the Ummah, I dont care if he is on the ter­ror­ist list! May ALLAH give him Kire amen [sic].”
  • Farooque Ahmed, who was sen­tenced for his role in a plot to attack DC-area pub­lic trans­porta­tion in 2010, was found to be in pos­ses­sion of CDs con­tain­ing Awlaki lec­tures and speeches.
  • Faisal Shahzad, who was sen­tenced to life in prison for his failed attempt to bomb Times Square in 2010, told inves­ti­ga­tors he was influ­enced by Awlaki.
  • Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 peo­ple at Fort Hood, Texas, sent 16 emails to Awlaki and received two responses.  In the after­math of the attack, Awlaki claimed he “blessed the act because it was against a mil­i­tary tar­get,” gave Hasan “per­mis­sion to carry out his attacks at Fort Hood,” and instructed him to “kill other Amer­i­can sol­diers,” although his email responses were rel­a­tively innocuous.
  • Five men who con­spired to attack the Fort Dix army base in New Jer­sey in 2007 were report­edly in pos­ses­sion of an Awlaki ser­mon and were also report­edly recorded dis­cussing the lec­ture enthusiastically.

Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan

Awlaki was also a con­trib­u­tor to Inspire mag­a­zine which influ­enced numer­ous inter­na­tional and domes­tic extrem­ists moti­vated by rad­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam. Fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials report­edly con­firmed that the Tsar­naev broth­ers got bomb-making instruc­tions from Inspire mag­a­zine.

Addi­tion­ally, Awlaki is believed to have per­son­ally instructed Umar Farouk Abdul­mu­tal­lab to det­o­nate his bomb aboard a transat­lantic flight from Ams­ter­dam to Detroit on Christ­mas Day 2009 over Amer­i­can air­space in order to max­i­mize casualties.

Awlaki’s influ­ence is not lim­ited to plots. His pro­pa­ganda also influ­enced a num­ber of indi­vid­u­als accused of pro­vid­ing or attempt­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to ter­ror­ists. Recent exam­ples include Abdella Tounisi, four indi­vid­u­als from Cal­i­for­nia, Randy “Rasheed” Wil­son and Moham­mad Abukhdair. Notably, sev­eral Amer­i­can extrem­ists com­mu­ni­cated with Awlaki directly, includ­ing Nidal Has­san, Zachary Chesser and Barry Bujol, Jr.

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