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October 27, 2014 1

New Spate of Lone Wolf Attacks Highlights Terrorist Propaganda

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

A recent series of attacks in the U.S. and Canada have renewed national con­ver­sa­tion about the dan­ger of lone wolf ter­ror­ism: Attacks under­taken by indi­vid­u­als act­ing entirely on their own, with­out belong­ing to an orga­nized extrem­ist group, ter­ror­ist group or cell.

When extrem­ists plan and exe­cute attacks alone, as indi­vid­u­als, there are far fewer oppor­tu­ni­ties for law enforce­ment to detect the attacks in advance and they are much more dif­fi­cult to pre­vent. Con­se­quently, “lone wolf” actions tend to be more deadly.

There is increas­ing spec­u­la­tion that the rise of online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other for­eign ter­ror­ist groups – and its increas­ing sophis­ti­ca­tion – may con­tribute to such attacks.

ISIS, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP), and other groups have called on Amer­i­cans, Cana­di­ans and other west­ern­ers to self-radicalize and com­mit lone wolf attacks against their home countries.

In Sep­tem­ber, a speech released by ISIS told sup­port­ers, “If you can kill a dis­be­liev­ing Amer­i­can or Euro­pean – espe­cially the…French – or an Aus­tralian, or a Canadian…kill him in any man­ner or way how­ever it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s ver­dict. Kill the dis­be­liever whether he is civil­ian or mil­i­tary…” One of the sug­gested meth­ods of attack was to “run him [the West­erner] over with your car.”

In August, AQAP issued an English-language mag­a­zine, which stated that the U.S. “needs sev­eral more attacks inside and out­side its ter­ri­to­ries. This could be done by a Mujahid group or a lone Mujahid,” and pro­vided updated instruc­tions for build­ing pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs. Such sen­ti­ments have been a fea­ture of AQAP’s English-language pro­pa­ganda for years.

More­over, expo­sure to vio­lent images com­bined with the incite­ment of ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda may pro­vide the nec­es­sary ratio­nale to lead indi­vid­u­als with vio­lent ten­den­cies – and some­times unsta­ble behav­ior – over the tip­ping point towards vio­lence. And in pro­vid­ing that ratio­nale, ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda may also direct the vio­lence, lead­ing to a higher like­li­hood of attacks against law enforce­ment, author­ity fig­ures, or other sym­bolic targets.

Zale Thompson’s alleged attack against NY police offi­cers and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s alleged attack on the Cana­dian Par­lia­ment pro­vide exam­ples of this new type of lone wolf: Indi­vid­u­als with some degree of upset and insta­bil­ity who buy into the frame­work of ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda to the extent that they under­take acts of violence.

Thomp­son, for exam­ple, was rumored to be depressed and suf­fer­ing from drug abuse. He was angry about what he per­ceived as oppres­sion of blacks in the U.S. In his embrace of rad­i­cal Islam, he read and wrote about “holy war” and behead­ings, and googled the phrase “jihad against police,” accord­ing to law enforce­ment sources. He also looked up infor­ma­tion on the two Cana­dian attacks before allegedly attempt­ing to kill the police officers.

Less is known about Mar­tin Rouleau-Couture, the man who allegedly ran over two sol­diers in Canada last week, but he, too, appar­ently engaged with extrem­ist pro­pa­ganda online and praised ISIS on his Face­book page.

Lone wolves aren’t the only ones who respond to online incite­ment. A major­ity of the Amer­i­can cit­i­zens who attempt to join for­eign ter­ror­ist groups abroad or to work on their behalf at home have been influ­enced by it to some extent – appar­ently includ­ing the three teenage girls from Den­ver who allegedly attempted to join ISIS last week.

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August 21, 2014 0

Anti-Zionist Group Targets Jewish Institutions

Over the past two weeks, demon­stra­tors from Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP), the largest Jew­ish anti-Zionist group in the United States, have entered Jew­ish insti­tu­tion build­ings to directly con­front the lead­ers of major Amer­i­can Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions over their sup­port for Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.

On four sep­a­rate occa­sions, mem­bers of JVP made their way into build­ings belong­ing to Jew­ish insti­tu­tions and began to protest inside. Their goal in get­ting inside the build­ings was to hand deliver an open let­ter call­ing the insti­tu­tional Jew­ish community’s sup­port for Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge “painful” and “a betrayal of our [Jew­ish] his­tory and values.”

1. New York City (August 20) – Mem­bers of JVP’s New York City chap­ter entered the UJA-Federation offices in Man­hat­tan. One of the pro­test­ers, who live-tweeted from the demon­stra­tion, wrote “Occu­py­ing UJA fed­er­a­tion office in NYC now.” The pro­test­ers even­tu­ally moved their demon­stra­tion to the side­walk out­side of the building.

2. Den­ver (August 19) – The Front Range JVP chap­ter led a group of pro­test­ers into the JEW­ISH­col­orado build­ing in Den­ver. Inside the build­ing, pro­test­ers attempted to deliver their peti­tion to JEWISHcolorado’s Pres­i­dent and CEO Doug Seser­man. After their request was denied, they moved the demon­stra­tion to the building’s lobby and then even­tu­ally out­side of the build­ing after 911 was report­edly called.

3. Durham (August 12) – A small group of pro­test­ers from JVP’s North Car­olina chap­ter inter­rupted the “Com­mu­nity Gath­er­ing in Sup­port of Israel and Peace,” which was spon­sored by the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tions of Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill. While a speaker was deliv­er­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, mem­bers of the group inter­rupted his speech, unfolded a large ban­ner and began to make demands from insti­tu­tional Jew­ish lead­er­ship about their stance on Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.

jvp-jewish-federation-philadelphia

JVP mem­bers at the Philadel­phia Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion building

4. Philadel­phia (August 8) – Pro­test­ers from JVP’s Philadel­phia chap­ter made their way into the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion offices in Philadel­phia. After gain­ing entrance, they demanded to meet with the Federation’s CEO Naomi Adler. After being told that they would not receive an appoint­ment, a small por­tion of the group refused to leave the build­ing and con­tin­ued to protest inside, report­edly lead­ing to their arrest.

Six other protests have also taken place out­side of Jew­ish insti­tu­tions over the past month, although var­i­ous groups such as Al-Awda and the newly-founded If Not Now, When?, have orga­nized those. No attempts were made to enter the Jew­ish insti­tu­tions in those cases, but like JVP, the pro­test­ers called on the Jew­ish com­mu­nity to con­demn Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.

At least 25 other protests have taken place out­side of build­ings affil­i­ated with Israel or Israeli com­pa­nies. At one of those demon­stra­tions, mem­bers of JVP and Jews Say No! made their way into the offices of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF). Once inside, the demon­stra­tors began to protest and con­ducted a “die-in.” Nine pro­tes­tors were report­edly arrested.

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December 3, 2013 0

Denver Conference To Feature Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists

The Mus­lim Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion – Per­sian Speak­ing Group (MSA-PSG) will hold its 43rd annual con­fer­ence in Den­ver, Col­orado, which will draw the par­tic­i­pa­tion of sev­eral anti-Semites, con­spir­acy the­o­rists and Holo­caust deniers.msa-psg-iran-denver

The con­fer­ence, titled “Await­ing the Sav­ior,” is sched­uled for Decem­ber 26–29 and will include lec­tures and work­shop ses­sions with the pur­ported aim to dis­cuss “how Islam can help guide us in our await­ing time to be the true sup­port­ers of our Imam,” also known as the Mahdi, a mes­sianic fig­ure for Shi’a Muslims. 

The MSA-PGA was founded in 1970 by Mostafa Cham­ron, an Iran­ian anti-Shah activist when he was a stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia – Berke­ley. Cham­ron sub­se­quently returned to Iran after the 1979 Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion and served as defense min­is­ter and a mem­ber of par­lia­ment for the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran.

The orga­ni­za­tion has a his­tory of invit­ing anti-Semitic speak­ers and extrem­ists to its annual con­fer­ence. Among the list of speak­ers invited this year, and in pre­vi­ous years, are Muham­mad al Asi and Abdul Alim Musa. Al Asi and Musa are fre­quently invited to speak at anti-Israel events on cam­pus where they engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric dur­ing their speeches and lec­tures. Addi­tion­ally, both indi­vid­u­als have pub­licly sworn alle­giance to Iran’s supreme leader, Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei. Musa is also the leader of Sabiqun, an anti-Semitic Mus­lim group that advo­cates for the cre­ation of a global Islamic state.

Anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rists Mark Glenn and Mark Dankof are also invited to speak at this year’s event. At the 2012 annual MSA-PSG con­fer­ence, Dankof made a series of con­spir­a­to­r­ial and anti-Semitic claims that Mus­lims and Chris­tians are under threat by Zion­ists. More­over, Dankof made a series of alle­ga­tions that Jews are in con­trol of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, eco­nom­ics and media, and that Jew­ish con­spir­a­cies are behind impor­tant U.S. events, such as the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy and the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks.

The orga­ni­za­tion, which is pri­mar­ily based in Los Ange­les, adheres to the strict prin­ci­ples of Twelver Shi’a Islam and the vir­u­lently anti-Semitic and anti-West ide­ol­ogy of the founder of the Islamic Repub­lic, Aya­tol­lah Ruhol­lah Khome­ini. Con­trary to its name, mem­bers of the MSA-PSG are not nec­es­sar­ily stu­dents. Many mem­bers are of Pak­istani or South Asian ori­gins who have pre­vi­ously spent time at Iran­ian sem­i­nar­ies and reli­gious insti­tu­tions. Pre­vi­ous years’ con­fer­ences have pri­mar­ily been held in Hous­ton and Chicago.

Another sched­uled speaker is Hamza Soda­gar, an Iranian-born cleric. At the 2010 Mus­lim Con­gress (MC) con­ven­tion, Soda­gar made sev­eral con­spir­a­to­r­ial charges, includ­ing one where he alleged Zion­ist con­trol over U.S. Muslims.

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