Boston marathon bombing » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘Boston marathon bombing’
July 13, 2015 0

Online Activity Provides Insight Into MA Man Arrested For ISIS Plot

Alexander Ciccolo's Facebook profile picture

Alexan­der Ciccolo’s Face­book pro­file picture

Alexan­der Cic­colo, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, is the 55th U.S. res­i­dent linked to ter­ror­ist plots and other activ­ity in 2015. A closer look at one of Ciccolo’s Face­book pro­files, which ADL began mon­i­tor­ing in 2014, sheds light on his views in sup­port of ter­ror­ism, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) specifically.

Cic­colo was arrested on July 4, 2015, and charged as a felon in pos­ses­sion of a weapon. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, he had allegedly planned an attack against a pop­u­lar bar fre­quented by uni­ver­sity stu­dents and a col­lege cafe­te­ria, pos­si­bly with the use of pres­sure cooker bombs mod­eled after those used in the Boston Marathon bomb­ing. He allegedly planned to broad­cast the attack live on the Inter­net, a tes­ta­ment to the cen­tral­ity of the Inter­net in ter­ror­ist activity.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Cic­colo had ini­tially con­sid­ered an attack on civil­ians, mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment, for which he also allegedly con­sid­ered using pres­sure cooker bombs. As many as 5 other domes­tic plots in 2015 tar­geted the mil­i­tary, and as many as 3 other plots tar­geted law enforce­ment. At least 2 other domes­tic plots in 2015 involved attempts at repli­cat­ing the pres­sure cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

A series of Face­book posts ana­lyzed by ADL in Decem­ber 2014 in which Cic­colo posted using the name Ali NoSis­ters Al Amriki (pre­vi­ously Ali Al Amriki, with the mid­dle name added to indi­cate that he did not want women to add him as a friend, a fur­ther demon­stra­tion of his reli­gious extrem­ism) reveal Ciccolo’s appar­ent embrace of ter­ror­ist ideology.

Ciccolo Facebook post ISIS Syria father dream

One of Ciccolo’s Face­book posts

In a post dated Decem­ber 1, 2014, he described a dream in which he was “run­ning to Sham (Syria), climb­ing over walls, over fences, through train sta­tions and across the coun­try. It seemed like every­one was try­ing to stop me from get­ting to Sham. I even­tu­ally stopped run­ning and turned around. There was a man point­ing a pis­tol at me and my father was with him. I kept telling them to let me go, I was try­ing to rea­son with them. They wouldn’t lis­ten and con­tin­ued try­ing to harm me. I then had to kill this man and my father.” In the same post, he also described a sec­ond dream in which he “needed weapons des­per­ately, so I came up with a plan and stole the rifles an (AR15, and a shot­gun) out of the trunk of a police car.”

Two days later, Cic­colo posted a para­graph about ISIS cap­tur­ing weapons sup­plied by the U.S. and Israel (which he calls the “kuf­far alliance,” or apos­tate alliance) result­ing in both countries

Cicollo posted support for ISIS on Facebook

Cicollo posted sup­port for ISIS on Facebook

“work­ing against [them­selves]” and “rot[ting] them­selves from the inside out. They will suf­fer severe Hell­fire and they will find them­selves tor­tured souls.” One of Ciccolo’s Face­book friends com­mented on this post say­ing, “may almighty Allah help isis and in shaa allah rab (God will­ing) we shall become vic­to­ri­ous above the shay­atin (devils).”

Other state­ments fur­ther indi­cated his extrem­ist and con­spir­a­to­r­ial beliefs.

  •  “I only hope that I can serve Him the best I can and die a good death” (pos­si­bly refer­ring to dying as a ter­ror­ist; posted Decem­ber 1, 2014)
  • “If one does not learn to sub­ju­gate the other, one quickly finds the boot of the lat­ter on his throat,” (Decem­ber 16, 2014)
  •  “It is totally impos­si­ble to free asso­ciate with kuf­far (apos­tates) if you are a prac­tic­ing Mus­lim.” (Decem­ber 23, 2014)
  • “The kuf­far (apos­tates) con­t­a­m­i­nated all the food. Can some­one please send me a com­plete halal food list for the United States?” (Decem­ber 26, 2014)

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Cic­colo also praised the June 2015 attack on a beach and hotel in Tunisia, call­ing it “awe­some” and “a huge accom­plish­ment.” Court doc­u­ments also indi­cate that, ear­lier in the year, he posted a state­ment on Face­book that read, “Thank you Islamic State! Now we won’t have to deal with these kafir back in Amer­ica” (with an image of a dead U.S. sol­dier; posted Octo­ber 17, 2014)

Cicollo posted on Facebook about seeing Adolf Hitler

Cicollo posted on Face­book about see­ing Adolf Hitler

Some of Ciccolo’s ideas may have also been fueled by anti-Semitic sen­ti­ments.On Decem­ber 22, Cic­colo described a dream he claimed to have had in which he was “dressed in an SS uni­form” inspect­ing chil­dren in a school and then he “saw Hitler and his face was so bright and beautiful.”

Cic­colo is one of at least 15 con­verts to Islam linked to ter­ror­ism in the U.S. this year. And he is far from hav­ing grown up with extrem­ist ide­olo­gies: His father is a cap­tain in the Boston police and report­edly informed counter-terrorism inves­ti­ga­tors of his son’s increas­ing radicalization.

He is the fourth man linked to ter­ror plots in New Eng­land in 2015. Ciccolo’s alleged plot makes the 13th known domes­tic plot appar­ently inspired by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy this year.

News reports indi­cate that Cic­colo may suf­fer from men­tal illness.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

April 2, 2015 0

NY Arrests Put Spotlight on Female Islamic Extremists

Update — 4/6/15: Another woman, Keonna Thomas of Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia, was charged on April 3, 2015 with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Two Brook­lyn women arrested today on charges of con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass destruc­tion are the 11th and 12th U.S. women linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism since 2014. Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, but their num­bers have dra­mat­i­cally increased since 2014: ADL has doc­u­mented 12 female U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism in the last 15 months – the same as the total num­ber of women in the 11 years between 2002 and 2013.

A poem by Asia Siddiqui published in the extremist magazine Jihad Recollections

A poem by Asia Sid­diqui in the extrem­ist mag­a­zine Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions

Noelle Velentzas, a 28-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Asia Sid­diqui, a 31-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Velentzas’s for­mer room­mate, allegedly researched how to make explo­sive devices and pur­chased the mate­ri­als nec­es­sary to do so. Although court doc­u­ments do not indi­cate that they had cho­sen a tar­get, they expressed a pref­er­ence for attack­ing law enforce­ment and U.S. gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary facilities.

The two made clear that they were moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas praised the 9/11 attacks and repeat­edly stated that her heroes are Osama bin Laden and his men­tor, Abdul­lah Azzam.

More­over, Velentzas and Sid­diqui have an exten­sive his­tory of engag­ing with rad­i­cal extrem­ism online. In 2006, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Sid­diqui “became close with Samir Khan,” who went on to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) and, together with AQAP pro­pa­gan­dist Anwar al-Awlaki, founded Inspire mag­a­zine, the group’s pri­mary English-language mag­a­zine. In 2009, Sid­diqui wrote a poem that was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions, an ear­lier mag­a­zine that Khan produced.

Extrem­ist mag­a­zines includ­ing Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and Inspire have actively encour­aged sub­mis­sions from read­ers in the hope that hav­ing their work pub­lished will lead the read­ers to become fur­ther entrenched in the extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tion. Sid­diqui her­self allegedly expressed sup­port for Mohamed Osman Mohamud, another Amer­i­can who was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and who went on to attempt a domes­tic attack – in his case, the attempted bomb­ing of the Port­land, OR Christ­mas tree light­ing cer­e­mony in 2010.

Other Amer­i­cans that have writ­ten for Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions include Younes Abdul­lah Muham­mad (aka Jesse Cur­tis Mor­ton), a co-founder of now-defunct extrem­ist group Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim. Muham­mad is cur­rently in prison, hav­ing pleaded guilty to threat­en­ing the cre­ators of South Park.

Sid­diqui and Velentzas also appeared to have been inspired by other domes­tic attacks, includ­ing the Boston Marathon bomb­ing.

Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Sid­diqui told an under­cover infor­mant “Velentzas has been obsessed with pres­sure cook­ers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013 and often makes com­ments about pres­sure cook­ers,” and Velentzas told the infor­mant that “she had recently received a pres­sure cooker as a present, and joked about cook­ing some­thing in the pres­sure cooker, then laughed and added, ‘food,’ – a ref­er­ence to explo­sive materials.”

Image from an article on making car bombs in the  Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Image from an arti­cle on mak­ing car bombs in the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Like the Tsar­naev broth­ers, who are accused of hav­ing per­pe­trated the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, Sid­diqui and Velentzas attempted to learn how to make bombs from Inspire mag­a­zine. Refer­ring to the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire that pro­vided instruc­tions for the con­struc­tion and place­ment of car bombs, Velentzas allegedly stated that “Inspire mag­a­zine was useful…to learn how to ‘valet’ his/her car and how to cook ‘food.’” She reg­u­larly used the word “food” as a euphemism for explosives.

The two also allegedly watched ISIS pro­pa­ganda videos online, includ­ing behead­ing and recruit­ment videos, and expressed affin­ity for ISIS. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas stated that she wanted them to be referred to as “cit­i­zens of the Islamic State,” and “that attacks on ISIS were tan­ta­mount to attacks on her own state.”

Velentzas was also report­edly friends on Face­book with Tairod Pugh, a New Jer­sey man arrested in March for attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Sev­en­teen U.S. res­i­dents in total have been arrested on Islamic extrem­ism moti­vated ter­ror charges in 2015, 6 of whom were from New York State. If arrests con­tinue at the cur­rent rate, it will reflect a marked increase of arrests over the last three years, cor­re­spond­ing to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its aggres­sive recruit­ment and pro­pa­ganda campaigns.

Twenty-five U.S. res­i­dents in total were linked to Islamic extrem­ism in 2014, and 14 in 2013, although sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of indi­vid­u­als not iden­ti­fied are believed to have trav­eled abroad to join ter­ror­ist groups.

This morning’s arrest also marked the fourth instance of a domes­tic attack plot in 2015. In Jan­u­ary, Ohio res­i­dent Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. Capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad and in Feb­ru­ary, New York City res­i­dents Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov were arrested for attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack if they were unable to do so, and in March, Hasan and Jonas Edmonds were arrested for allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS and plot­ting an attack against a mil­i­tary base.

Notably, there were no known domes­tic plots in 2014; the cur­rent increase may be related to an increase in ISIS pro­pa­ganda encour­ag­ing such attacks.

Thirty-five U.S. res­i­dents have been pub­licly linked to or cited inspi­ra­tion from ISIS since 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

August 19, 2014 0

New AQAP Magazine Calls For Lone-Wolf Attacks Against U.S. And U.K.


Back cover of the AQAP pub­li­ca­tion, “Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience”

Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) issued a new English-language mag­a­zine on Twit­ter August 16. Titled “Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Con­science,” the pub­li­ca­tion uses the recent con­flict in Gaza as an excuse to renew the group’s call for lone-wolf attacks in the U.S. and the U.K.

AQAP has reg­u­larly issued such calls for lone-wolf attacks in the past, includ­ing just a few days ago when it urged fol­low­ers to attack the U.S. in retal­i­a­tion for mil­i­tary assis­tance in Iraq.

The mag­a­zine, which reuses con­tent from AQAP’s Inspire mag­a­zine, includes direc­tions for build­ing pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs and sug­gests a new list of poten­tial tar­gets includ­ing Israeli, British and Amer­i­can owned com­pa­nies, tourist resorts fre­quented by Amer­i­can, British and Israeli cit­i­zens, Las Vegas casi­nos and night clubs, Geor­gia Mil­i­tary Col­lege, the US Air Force Acad­emy, Gen­eral Atom­ics head­quar­ters in San Diego, and Marks and Spencer stores in Britain.

For more infor­ma­tion about this pub­li­ca­tion, see the ADL analy­sis “AQAP Exploits Gaza Con­flict to Call for Lone-Wolf Attacks Against U.S.”

ADL has also writ­ten exten­sively about the  influ­ence posed by such online English-language pro­pa­ganda on would-be domes­tic extrem­ists and the ensu­ing threat it poses to domes­tic security.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,