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January 8, 2016

No Sign of Slowdown for Islamic Extremism Arrests in the U.S. in 2016

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Janab, arrested January 6

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Janab, arrested January 6

Two U.S. residents were arrested on Islamic extremism related terror charges in the first week of 2016 and a third allegedly committed a shooting on January 7 on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Following record-breaking numbers of terror related arrests in 2015, these new arrests portend similarly high levels of Americans engaging in plots and other activity motivated by Islamic extremist ideology in the coming year.

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Janab, a resident of Sacramento, California, was arrested on January 6, 2015. Al-Janab, an Iraqi-born man who had moved to Syria and then come to the U.S. as a refugee from Syria in 2012, is accused of making false statements in a terror-related investigation. Al-Janab had originally left the U.S. to fight with Ansar al-Islam, a Syrian terrorist group, between 2013 and 2014. Ansar al-Islam had been affiliated with Al Qaeda until August 2014, at which time it merged with ISIS.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, a resident of Houston, Texas, was also arrested on January 6, 2015. Al Hardan, who entered the U.S. as a refugee from Iraq in 2009 and is currently a U.S. permanent resident, is charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization by attempting to join the ISIS and with lying in his naturalization application.

A third man, identified as Edward Archer of Pennsylvania, allegedly attempted to kill a law enforcement officer in Philadelphia on behalf of ISIS. There were at least four instances of Islamic extremism inspired violence against law enforcement officers in 2015.

The two individuals arrested were Iraqi born men of Palestinian descent who entered the U.S. as refugees. They reportedly communicated with each other regarding their extremist aspirations.

The vast majority of U.S. residents engaged in terrorism related to Islamic extremism are U.S. citizens.  Between 2009 and 2015, refugees accounted for only three percent of the U.S. residents linked to Islamic extremism.

In 2015, only 3 U.S. residents linked to terror motivated by Islamic extremism had entered the U.S. as refugees. One of the three, Harlem Suarez, entered the U.S. as a refugee when he was a child but appears to have converted to Islam and radicalized while in the U.S.; Suarez was a U.S. permanent resident when he was arrested for attempting to bomb a Florida beach in support of ISIS.

2015 also saw a spike in attempted domestic attacks. There were 18 plots discussed in total in 2015, compared to 1 in all of 2014.

78 U.S. residents in total were linked to terrorist activity motivated by Islamic extremism in 2015. A full list of the individuals, as well as extensive analysis, is available in the ADL report, “2015 Sees Dramatic Spike in Islamic Extremism Arrests.”

In October 2015, FBI Director James Comey indicated that there were 900 open investigations of suspected homegrown extremists, the majority of which are related to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Since that time, there have been 12 U.S. residents linked to terror, at least three of whom (San Bernardino shooters Tafsheen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farooq and Farooq’s friend, Enrique Marquez) had not been monitored by law enforcement prior to the San Bernardino attack in December 2015.

 

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December 18, 2015

ADL Reports at Least 75 Anti-Muslim Incidents In US Since Paris Attacks

Fol­low­ing the shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead and 22 injured, there has been a continued escalation in hos­til­ity and attacks throughout the U.S. against the Mus­lim com­mu­nity and those perceived as Muslim.

Islamic Center of Alameda's boarded up window, after it was shattered by a brick

Islamic Center of Alameda’s boarded up window, after it was shattered by a brick (CBS)

Since the San Bernardino shooting on December 2, at least 27 anti-Muslim incidents have been reported in the U.S., raising the total number of incidents since the November 13 Paris attacks to at least 75.Between the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shooting, ADL tracked approximately 48 anti-Muslim incidents. These numbers are based on reports ADL has collected from media and other sources.

Incidents such as assaults, vandalism, and threats targeting Muslim individuals and institutions in the U.S. tend to noticeably spike in the aftermath of terrorist attacks linked to Islamic extremists in the U.S or abroad.

Below are selected examples of alleged anti-Muslim incidents in the weeks following the San Bernardino attacks, both criminal and non-criminal:

Assaults

  • Grand Rapids, Michigan: Aman holding up a convenience store reportedly called the Sikh manager a “terrorist” and suggested he was a member of ISIS before shooting him in the face. (December 12)
  • Queens, New York: A man beat a Muslim store owner in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. The attacker reportedly stated, “I kill Muslims.” (December 5)

Vandalism

  • Hawthorne, California: “Jesus” graffiti and a fake hand grenade were left at two mosques. (December 12)
  • Alameda, California: A brick was thrown through a mosque’s window, shattering the window. (December 10)
  • Palm Beach, Florida: The Islamic Center of Palm Beach was vandalized, its windows smashed and furniture overturned. (December 3)

Threats and Intimidation

  • Cullman, Alabama: KKK fliers try to recruit Alabamans to stop “the spread of Islam.” (December 10)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A severed pig’s head was thrown at a mosque’s door. (December 7)
  • Vandalia, Ohio: A 7th grader threatened to shoot and kill a 6th grade Muslim schoolmate, reportedly calling him a “terrorist,” a “towel head,” and a “son of ISIS.” (December 7)
  • St. Louis, Missouri: A threatening voicemail was left at the Islamic Center of St. Louis. The message reportedly stated “I was a Marine, I killed a lot of Muslims, watched a lot of you die and burn…You want to kill? Come my way. I will cut your f-cking head off.” (December 5)
  • Fredericksburg, Virginia: In advance of a public hearing about a new mosque, anti-Muslim fliers were posted around town that read “No Jihad in Fredericksburg.” (December 5)

 

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December 3, 2015

Bonnie and Clydes Rare—But Not Unheard Of—In Violent Extremism

Syed Farook

Syed Farook

Background information on Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the married perpetrators of the tragic mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, is still sparse, as is clarity concerning the motive behind the vicious attack that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

However, according to media reports from the in-progress investigation, there is growing concern among law enforcement officials that the shootings may have had a connection to Islamic extremism or that there might have been a mixed extremist/workplace motive behind them.  The FBI has said that it is now treating its investigation of the killings as a counter-terrorism investigation.

One thing that is exceedingly rare in traditional workplace shootings is for there to be multiple perpetrators, as there was in this case.  As one law enforcement official told The New York Times, “You don’t take your wife to a workplace shooting, and especially not as prepared as they were.  He could have been radicalized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dispute at work and decided to do something.”

Multiple perpetrators are certainly common in extremist-related crimes, of course, despite the existence of the “lone wolf” phenomenon.  Women are also frequently involved in extremist-related criminal activity in almost every extremist movement in the United States.

However, when one examines recent criminal cases in the U.S. involving domestic Islamic extremists, one finds that female partners of male perpetrators—even when themselves involved in criminal activities—have not typically engaged in violence.  Overseas, women have sometimes taken on more violent roles, including as suicide bombers.

If an Islamic extremist motive is confirmed in the San Bernardino shootings, the fact of husband-and-wife shooters would be a new wrinkle in the history of the violent tactics of that movement in the United States.

Extremist-related violence involving husbands and wives—or non-married partners—is actually not unheard of in the United States, but it tends to come from a very different source:  right-wing extremism.  Though not what one could call a common phenomenon, such violent “Bonnie and Clyde” couples do emerge with regularity from within both the white supremacist and anti-government extremist movements in the United States.

In fact, right-wing extremism even produced an example of the exceedingly rare phenomenon of a married couple both of whom were on death row:  anti-government extremists Linda Lyon Block and George Sibley.  In 1993, the two sovereign citizens non-fatally stabbed Block’s ex-husband, then while on the run murdered an Alabama police officer in a shootout.  Both were executed in the 2000s.

In more recent years, extremist couples have been involved with everything from standoffs with police to hate crimes to terrorist conspiracies.  But some of the most shocking “Bonnie and Clyde” incidents have involved multiple homicides committed by white supremacists and anti-government extremists:

  • Jerad and Amanda Miller, a young married couple who adhered to the anti-government ideology of the militia movement, targeted two Las Vegas police officers for assassination in June 2014, killing them at a pizza restaurant as they ate their Sunday lunch.  The couple crossed the street to a Wal-mart in anticipation of a final shootout with first responders, where Amanda killed an armed civilian trying to stop them.  As they had intended, they did both die during a shootout with law enforcement at the store, with a wounded Amanda killing herself after Jerad was shot.
  • Jeremy and Christine Moody, white supremacists from Union County, South Carolina, killed a nearby married couple in July 2013 in a particularly grisly double homicide in which both victims were shot and stabbed.  The Moodys had targeted the victim because they wanted to kill a registered sex offender and found the male victim’s name and address on the Internet.  They killed his wife because she had married a sex offender.  Both pleaded guilty to murder in 2014, receiving life sentences with no parole, but were unrepentant, with Christine Moody calling the day of the murders “the best day of my life.”
  • Holly Grigsby and David Pedersen, a white supremacist couple from Oregon, embarked upon a multi-state murder spree in 2011 that totaled four killed before police could find and stop them.  The pair traveled to Washington to murder Pederson’s father and stepmother, each killing one victim, then killed a young man in Oregon to steal his car and because they thought he might be Jewish.  They killed an African-American man in northern California in another carjacking attempt, though they did not end up taking the vehicle, then were finally apprehended by the California Highway Patrol.  Grigsby told the arresting officers that they were to Sacramento to “kill more Jews” when they were stopped.  Both pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes and received life sentences.

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