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November 19, 2013 0

ADL’s Terrorism Update Focuses On How FTOs Attract American Recruits

The Novem­ber edi­tion of Ter­ror­ism UpdateADL’s newslet­ter pro­vid­ing news and analy­sis on inter­na­tional ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and their fol­low­ers in the U.S., is now avail­able to our subscribers.

The fea­ture arti­cle focuses on Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate orga­ni­za­tion in Soma­lia, and its capac­ity to attract Amer­i­can recruits to its cause. Al Shabaab claimed that three Amer­i­cans par­tic­i­pated in the group’s deadly attack this Sep­tem­ber on the West­gate Mall in Nterrorism-update-subscribe-adlairobi, Kenya, and nearly 50 other Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have either trav­elled to Soma­lia or have oth­er­wise aided the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion since 2007.

The Pro­file in Ter­ror fea­tures Omar Ham­mami, an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen from Alabama who once served as a pri­mary English-language recruiter for Al Shabaab before he was appar­ently killed by other Al Shabaab mem­bers on Sep­tem­ber 13, 2013.

This edi­tion of Ter­ror­ism Update also includes infor­ma­tion on a recent terror-related arrest in North Car­olina, which under­scores a con­tin­ued trend of Amer­i­cans attempt­ing to join ter­ror­ist groups in the Syr­ian con­flict, as well as arrests in New York and Cal­i­for­nia.

An update on one of the lead­ers of Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim, the fringe anti-Semitic Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tion based in New York that jus­ti­fied ter­ror­ist attacks and other forms of vio­lence against non-Muslims, is also high­lighted in this edi­tion, as is ADL’s col­lec­tion of resources on Inspire Mag­a­zine, the English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine pro­duced by Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Peninsula.

Read­ers can sub­scribe to the ADL Ter­ror­ism Update to auto­mat­i­cally receive the bi-monthly newsletter.

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November 13, 2013 0

North Carolina Arrest Marks 6th American In 2013 Associated With Al Qaeda In Syria

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Basit Javed Sheikh

A North Car­olina man was arrested Novem­ber 2 on charges of attempt­ing to travel to Syria to join the Al-Qaeda group Jab­hat al-Nusra. His arrest under­scores a con­tin­ued trend of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents attempt­ing to join ter­ror­ist groups in the Syr­ian con­flict; it marks the fourth such arrest and sixth pub­licly dis­closed case of Amer­i­cans fight­ing or attempt­ing to fight in Syria this year.  It also demon­strates the increas­ing power of Face­book and other social media plat­forms in ter­ror­ist recruit­ment and propaganda.

Basit Javed Sheikh is a 29 year-old per­ma­nent res­i­dent orig­i­nally from Pak­istan, resid­ing in Cary, North Car­olina. His arrest marked his third failed attempt to travel to Syria – attempts that were made and adver­tised over social media.

Since Jan­u­ary 2013, Sheikh allegedly cre­ated at least seven Face­book accounts with the pseu­do­nym Abdul Basit or Abdul Basit II. Dur­ing that time, a num­ber of those accounts were shut down by Face­book for being in vio­la­tion of its terms of use, but he per­sisted in cre­at­ing more. At this time, there appear to be two active accounts likely belong­ing to Sheikh. The first, Abdul Basit II, was cre­ated Octo­ber 21 and is already heav­ily pop­u­lated with posts extolling ter­ror­ism world­wide – rang­ing from prais­ing the Pak­istani Tal­iban to show­ing an Islamist fighter point­ing at Jerusalem to an image of Islamist mil­i­tants with an quote from Islamic sources say­ing, “A sec­tion of my com­mu­nity will con­tinue to fight for the right and over­come their oppo­nents till the last of them fights with the Antichrist.” The sec­ond cur­rently active pro­file, Abdul Basit, was cre­ated Octo­ber 29, 2013, and has a gun as its pro­file picture.

Sheikh allegedly was even more active on his older Face­book pro­files. Accord­ing to an affi­davit in sup­port of his arrest war­rant, he reg­u­larly used the site to post jihadist videos and pro­pa­ganda and to inter­act with other extrem­ists. In addi­tion to being a mem­ber of a now-defunct Jab­hat al-Nusrah Face­book group, Sheikh allegedly posted mul­ti­ple times about the war in Syria and about the need to join the fight­ing there, and quoted a num­ber of sources prais­ing mar­tyr­dom.  He also allegedly posted videos and com­ments call­ing for the death and pun­ish­ment of Amer­i­can lead­ers and sol­diers, includ­ing one video that said, “Let the mujahideen kill them and destroy them…Allah give vic­tory to Sheikh Usama [bin Laden].”

Sheikh also appears to have been included in con­ver­sa­tions of anti-Jewish con­spir­acy the­o­ries. In one thread of an online forum, he was included in a note blam­ing Jews for “inten­tion­ally spread[ing]” mod­er­ate – or, as the thread called it, “wrong” – inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam that, among other things, “states that jihad is HARAM [forbidden].”

Sheikh had ini­tially trav­elled to Syria in the fall of 2012, when he report­edly joined the Free Syr­ian army but left because he dis­agreed with the group’s moti­va­tions. He then booked a flight in Sep­tem­ber 2013, but did not fol­low through because he “could not muster the strength to leave his par­ents.” His con­tin­ued Face­book posts, how­ever, sug­gested that he was deter­mined to try again.

Ulti­mately, it was Sheikh’s alleged online activ­ity that led to his arrest on his third attempt. After join­ing a Face­book page cre­ated by the FBI that pur­ported to pro­mote extrem­ist Islam, Sheikh allegedly began to reg­u­larly con­verse with an FBI agent over Face­book, Skype, and email. Accord­ing to the affi­davit, he made a new set of travel plans to Syria in con­sul­ta­tion with the agent, insist­ing that he was eager to fight in jihad even when told he could back out, and was arrested at the airport.

Since 2007, over 50 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been arrested or charged in con­nec­tion with attempts to join ter­ror­ist groups abroad, includ­ing Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula.

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October 18, 2013 0

Long Island Arrest Highlights Continuing Lure Of Terror Groups Abroad

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Mar­cos Alonso Zea arrested for attempt­ing to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Peninsula.

A Long Island man was arrested Fri­day for attempt­ing to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP). The arrest came exactly one week after an Orange County man was arrested for attempt­ing to travel abroad to join Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

Both arrests high­light the con­tin­ued trend of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens join­ing ter­ror­ist groups abroad and the con­tin­ued allure of Al Qaeda and its affil­i­ates. At least three Amer­i­can cit­i­zens or per­ma­nent res­i­dents have attempted to join AQAP in 2013 alone. And at least nine oth­ers have attempted to join for­eign ter­ror­ist groups this year.

Mar­cos Alonso Zea, also known as Ali Zea, is charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der in a for­eign coun­try, attempt­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to ter­ror­ists, attempt­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to AQAP, and obstruc­tion and attempted obstruc­tion of justice.

Zea, a 25-year-old Mus­lim con­vert from Brent­wood, Long Island, allegedly flew from New York to Lon­don with plans to con­tinue from there to the Ara­bian Penin­sula on Jan­u­ary 4, 2012. He was detained by cus­toms offi­cials and returned to the United States.

His own plans stymied, Zea allegedly encour­aged a co-conspirator from his mosque, 18-year-old high school senior Justin Kaliebe, to make the trip. Zea dis­cussed plans to fight abroad and pro­vided him with money to fund the trip, accord­ing to the indict­ment. Kaliebe was arrested at JFK Inter­na­tional Air­port on Jan­u­ary 21, 2013, and is sched­uled to be sen­tenced Decem­ber 6, 2013.

Zea’s com­puter report­edly con­tained a num­ber of mate­ri­als designed to encour­age rad­i­cal­iza­tion, includ­ing copies of Inspire Mag­a­zine, AQAP’s English-language peri­od­i­cal, and a video from Al Qaeda in Iraq depict­ing an attack on a mil­i­tary vehicle.

Since 2007, over 50 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been arrested or charged in con­nec­tion with attempts to join ter­ror­ist groups abroad, includ­ing Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula.

In addi­tion to Zea, eight oth­ers have attempted to join for­eign ter­ror­ist groups this year. They are:

  • Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen of Cal­i­for­nia, arrested on Octo­ber 11, 2013 for attempt­ing to join Al Qaeda.
  • Amir Farouq Ibrahim, of Penn­syl­va­nia, linked with ISIS and assumed dead in Syria in July 2013.
  • Justin Kaliebe of New York, arrested June 25, 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.
  • Nicole Mans­field of Michi­gan, killed in Syria in May, 2013, report­edly fight­ing with Jab­hat al Nus­rah.
  • Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Illinios, arrested April 19, 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusrah.
  • Eric Har­roun of Ari­zona, arrested March 27, 2013, for trav­el­ing to Syria to fight with Al Qaeda linked rebels. He pleaded guilty to non-terror-related charges in Sep­tem­ber, 2013, and was sen­tenced to time served. That Har­roun fought in Syria is uncon­tested; how­ever, reports dif­fer as to whether he fought with Al Qaeda affil­i­ates.
  • Matthew Aaron Llaneza of Cal­i­for­nia, arrested Feb­ru­ary 8, 2013, for attempted domes­tic ter­ror­ism and plans to travel to join the Tal­iban in Afghanistan.
  • Shel­ton Thomas Bell of Florida, arrested Jan­u­ary 29, 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.

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