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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 15, 2013 1

California Arrest Underscores Ongoing Concern Over Americans Joining Al Qaeda Abroad

Update — Octo­ber 18, 2013: Arrest in Long Island high­lights con­tin­u­ing lure of ter­ror groups abroad.

An Orange County man was arrested on Fri­day for allegedly pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to Al Qaeda. The arrest under­scores ongo­ing con­cerns over Amer­i­can cit­i­zens join­ing ter­ror­ist groups abroad and Syria in particular.sinh-vinh-ngo-nguyen-hasan-abu-omar-ghannoum

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghan­noum, report­edly trav­eled to Syria in Decem­ber, 2012, and fought against the Assad regime. While the indict­ment against Nguyen does not spe­cially men­tion his travel to Syria, he report­edly left com­ments on what appears to be his Face­book page indi­cat­ing his pres­ence in the coun­try between Decem­ber 2012 and April or May 2013.

I’m doing well in Syria…having a blast here, and I mean lit­er­ally” read one com­ment. In another, Nguyen appar­ently “con­firmed his first kill” and expressed eager­ness for more. In April, he posted an image of a dead fighter whom he called “A Dear Brother of mine.”

Nguyen, who report­edly returned to the U.S around May 2013, was arrested while attempt­ing to board a bus to Mex­ico. He is charged with attempt­ing “to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port and resources, that is, ser­vices and per­son­nel, namely him­self,” to al Qaeda, as well as mak­ing false state­ments on a pass­port appli­ca­tion. It is not clear why he planned to travel to Mexico.

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. An increas­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans have been attracted to the con­flict in Syria and have attempted to join Jab­hat al-Nusrah, an alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Nguyen, a Mus­lim con­vert, is licensed as a secu­rity guard and was train­ing to be a truck dri­ver. His pur­ported Face­book page indi­cates strong inter­est in weapons, includ­ing posts about his favorite weapons and an image of a “com­mando style” rifle that served as his Face­book pro­file pic­ture last winter.

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October 2, 2013 4

Haters of Israel” Facebook Page Surpasses 1 Million “Likes”

The Arabic-language “Haters of Israel” Face­book page, cre­ated in 2011 by a group of Egyp­tians, has attracted over 1,100,000 “likes.” 18–24 year-olds make up the largest demographic.haters-of-israel-facebook

Inter­est­ingly, a major­ity of the posts on the page have lit­tle or noth­ing to do with Israel, a tes­ti­mony to the fun­da­men­tal pop­u­lar­ity such a title has in much of the Arab world.

The page func­tions as a pop­u­lar forum for those who either iden­tify as haters of Israel or who appre­ci­ate the wide appeal gen­er­ated by the page; some use the page to adver­tise their own pages and profiles.

Many Face­book pages strive to have a frac­tion of the “likes” this page has gen­er­ated, but fail to acquire such a mas­sive fol­low­ing. One pos­si­ble rea­son is the sim­plic­ity of the title and the clear state­ment it makes about one’s iden­tity. To be asso­ci­ated with such a clear mes­sage adds def­i­n­i­tion to one’s online pres­ence and is desir­able regard­less of what the con­tent ulti­mately is. 

That is not to say that the page is devoid of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic mes­sages. For exam­ple, one user posted a well-known Holo­caust photo of corpses loaded onto a truck with a cap­tion that reads, “Guess what is on this cute wagon… Yes, cor­rect, ha ha ha… These are the remains of the Jew­ish corpses from the Holo­caust exe­cuted by Hitler the hero.”

Haters of Israel” is hardly the only page of its kind. Face­book users have cre­ated numer­ous pages glo­ri­fy­ing Hitler and demo­niz­ing Israel and Jews in mul­ti­ple lan­guages that have attracted an innu­mer­able amount of “likes.”protocols-elders-zion-facebook

For exam­ple, another Ara­bic lan­guage Face­book page is pro­vid­ing chap­ters of the noto­ri­ous anti-Semitic forgery, The Pro­to­cols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Accord­ing to the descrip­tion pro­vided by the Face­book page, its objec­tive is to “Expose the Jewish/ Israeli plan to con­trol and dom­i­nate the world through their immoral plan known as ‘The pro­to­cols of the Learned Elders of Zion.’”

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