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November 13, 2013 0

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

basit-sheikh-terrorism

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

marcos-alonso-zea

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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October 16, 2013 0

Former White Supremacist Terror Cell Members Arrested In Arizona

atf-agents-raid-kehoe property

ATF agents at raid on Kehoe prop­erty
(Source: ATF)

On Octo­ber 14, agents from the Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explo­sives (ATF) launched a raid on a remote piece of land out­side Ash Fork, Ari­zona, to arrest white suprema­cist Kirby Kehoe and his son, Cheyne, on weapons charges. 

The two Kehoes, both con­victed felons, allegedly pos­sessed around 20–30 firearms, includ­ing assault weapons, rifles, and hand­guns, as well as thou­sands of rounds of ammu­ni­tion. Cheyne Kehoe was also allegedly in pos­ses­sion of body armor, also prohibited.

The Kehoes were among the most noto­ri­ous of the white suprema­cist ter­ror­ists of the 1990s. In the late 1990s, both Kirby and Cheyne Kehoe were mem­bers of a domes­tic ter­ror cell led by Chevie Kehoe, the eldest son of Kirby. While pur­su­ing the grandiose dream of cre­at­ing an “Aryan People’s Repub­lic,” the Kehoes and other cell mem­bers mur­dered five peo­ple, includ­ing an eight-year-old girl, engaged in shootouts with police, com­mit­ted armed rob­beries, and allegedly planted a bomb at the city hall build­ing of Spokane, Washington.  

Chevie Kehoe even­tu­ally received mul­ti­ple life sen­tences for his role in the vio­lent acts, while another mem­ber, Daniel Lee, received a death sen­tence. Cheyne Kehoe received a 24-year sen­tence that was later reduced to 11 years for coop­er­a­tion, while Kirby Kehoe received a 51-month sentence. 

Kirby Kehoe, who lived in the Pacific North­west in the 1990s, pur­chased land in Ari­zona in early 2013, to which he and some other mem­bers of his large fam­ily moved. The ATF inves­ti­ga­tion stemmed from an ear­lier encounter between Cheyne Kehoe and local law enforce­ment offi­cers in early Sep­tem­ber.  In this inci­dent, author­i­ties arrested Cheyne on charges of domes­tic violence-related unlaw­ful impris­on­ment, pos­ses­sion of drug para­pher­na­lia, dis­or­derly con­duct, imper­son­at­ing a police offi­cer, and assault/touching (know­ingly touch­ing another per­son with the intent to injure, insult or pro­voke such person). 

The inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing and fur­ther arrests are possible.

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