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July 3, 2014

Colorado Arrest Highlights Increasing Pull Of ISIS

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Shannon Maureen Conley

The arrest of a 19 year-old Colorado woman in April for attempting to travel to Syria to aid the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), demonstrates the increased allure of ISIS and the Syria conflict for Americans looking to join terror groups abroad. The arrest was made public today.

The woman, Shannon Maureen Conley, was arrested on April 8, 2014, at Denver International Airport, where she was attempting to board a flight to Germany en route to Iraq. According to court documents, Conley was apparently hoping to meet and marry an ISIS member with whom she had been communicating online. She then allegedly hoped to use her skills as a nurse on behalf of ISIS, or to fight with them “if necessary.”

Conley reportedly had attempted to receive U.S. military training that she hoped to use to aid ISIS by joining the U.S. Army Explorers, a program that exposes youth to military career opportunities and occupational skills. In conversations with FBI agents, she allegedly referred to U.S. military bases as “targets.”

Conley appears to have been influenced by online terrorist propaganda, communicated with alleged ISIS members on the Internet and, according to court documents, allegedly possessed a series of “materials about jihad and Al-Qaeda” including “a number of CD/DVDs labeled ‘Anwar al-Awlaki.’”

Conley went by the name Halima on her Facebook profile, where she described her job as “Slave of Allah.”

Conley is one of 5 U.S. citizens arrested this year on terrorism charges, 4 of whom were charged with attempting to join terrorist organizations in Syria – Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas and Nicholas Teausant of California also allegedly attempted to join ISIS, while Mohammad Hassan Hamdan of Michigan allegedly attempted to join Hezbollah. Conley, Wolfe and Teausant are also all converts to Islam.

Intelligence estimates indicate that at least 100 Americans have travelled to join the Syria conflict since it began in 2011. Altogether, between 12,000 and 15,000 foreign fighters are believed to have joined the conflict.

Court documents indicate that Conley also exhibited threatening behavior at home, drawing diagrams of and threatening a local church, which she claimed to particularly hate for its support of Israel.

She reportedly posted a link to her Facebook page from “Acknowledge Apartheid Exists” about a Palestinian farmer who was supposedly shot by Israeli troops.

Although there have been significant terror threats from a number of women such as Colleen LaRose (“Jihad Jane”), women are arrested on terror charges far less often than men. The ADL has documented 13 female citizens and permanent residents of the U.S. arrested on terrorism charges since 2002.

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February 6, 2014

Anwar Al-Awlaki’s Messages Still Resonate On Facebook

Anwar al-Awlaki, who inspired a generation of terrorists in the U.S and abroad through his online propaganda, continues to reach audiences well after his death.generation-awlaki-facebook

A Facebook page called “Generation Awlaki,” which is made up of images of Awlaki and many of his most militant sayings, has attracted 2,676 “likes” from around the world and is attracting more followers every day.

Among the quotes by Awlaki featured on the page are, “Running away from Jihad will not save you from death. You can die as a coward or you can die as a Martyr” and, “If you have the right to slander the Messenger of Allah, we have the right to defend him. If it is part of your freedom of speech to defame Muhammad it is part of our religion to fight you.”

The highlighted quotes also touch on relevant political flashpoints, such as fighting against Israel. “The Palestinian issue should be something we think about day and night,” reads one recently posted quote.

Numerous comments have been left on the page, primarily in English. In fact, many of the followers of the page seem to be from English-speaking countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. This attests to Awlaki’s continued appeal to Western audiences, which he worked hard to influence and radicalize during his lifetime.

One comment in response to a quote praising martyrdom reads, “I will die as a martyr” and the page moderator responded “InshaaAllah (God willing).” Another says, “May Allah increase our chances to be mujahideen (martyrs) in sha Allah (God willing).”

“Generation Awlaki” is followed most heavily by 18 to 24 year olds, ages associated with increased receptivity to extremism.generation-awlaki-22

Through his YouTube sermons, articles in Inspire magazine, and other easily available books, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to be an inspiration for terrorists and would be terrorists. Of the 14 American citizens and permanent residents arrested on terror charges in the United States in 2013, at least six reportedly listened to or read Awlaki materials, including Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev of the Boston Marathon bombing and, most recently, Terry Lee Loewen, who attempted to bomb the Wichita Intercontinental Airport in December, 2013

Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric, encouraged attacks against America and the West by distributing online lectures to English-speaking audiences for many years. He was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. 

This sort of page is not unique. Other pages, including those dedicated specifically to Awlaki, abound. The Facebook group Martyr of Da’awa, for example, features quotes, videos and images of Awlaki and has attracted 1,372 ‘likes’ since it was founded in January, 2014.

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December 13, 2013

Terry Lee Loewen Planned Airport Bombing For Al Qaeda

A 58-year-old man from Wichita, Kansas, has been arrested for allegedly trying to blow up Wichita Mid-Continent Airport with a car bomb in support of Al Qaeda.tourismairport2.jpg [tourismairport2.jpg]

Terry Lee Loewen is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property and attempting to provide support to Al Qaeda.

According to the criminal complaint, Loewen said he was trying to support Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP), Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, by committing “an act of violent jihad.”

Three Amer­i­can cit­i­zens have attempted to join AQAP in 2013, including Mar­cos Alonso Zea and Justin Kaliebe of Long Island, and Shel­ton Thomas Bell of Florida.

Loewen, an avionics technician who reportedly works at the airport, allegedly made statements online to an undercover FBI agent about downloading terrorist propaganda online and wanting to commit “violent jihad” against the U.S. According to the complaint, he also said:

“As time goes on I care less and less about what other people think of me, or my views of Islam. I have been studying subjects like jihad, martyrdom operations, and Sharia law. I don’t understand how you can read the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet and not understand that jihad and the implementation of Sharia is absolutely demanded of all the Muslim Ummah.”

“One last thing I would like to make clear if I haven’t already – I believe the Muslim who is labeled ‘a radical fundamentalist’ is closer to Allah than the ones labeled ‘moderates.’ Just my opinion; if I’m off base, please set me straight.”

He also indicated that he “considered supporting some of our brothers and sisters in prison,” and has been sending money to the family of Younnus Abdullah Muhammad. Muhammad is the co-founder of Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim, the fringe anti-Semitic Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tion based in New York that jus­ti­fied ter­ror­ist attacks and other forms of vio­lence. The arrest of the Revolution Muslim leaders in recent years has led to its demise.

Loewen described Revolution Muslim as “the first website that really helped me understand what obedience to Allah was.”

According to the criminal complaint, he also expressed his admiration of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American-born Mus­lim cleric who encour­aged attacks against Amer­ica and the West to English-speaking online audi­ences for sev­eral years. Al‐Awlaki was among a growing chorus of Americans residing abroad who used their online pulpits to reach and influence audiences in the U.S. by repackaging ideologies of extreme intolerance and violence into digestible sound bites.

Al-Awlaki’s materials have inspired several American Muslim extremists to carry out terrorist attacks in the U.S. and join terrorist groups overseas. He was killed in a drone strike in Yemen on September 30, 2011.

Loewen, who also goes by Terry L. Lane, reportedly left a letter for his family dated December 11 that said, “By the time you read this I will — if everything went as planned — have been martyred in the path of Allah.”

Described by the U.S. government as “the most active and dangerous” branch of Al Qaeda, AQAP has attempted to carry out multiple attacks against the United States, including at least three failed attacks involving U.S.-bound aviation.

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