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June 20, 2013 0

Syrian Front Attracts American And Foreign Fighters

eric-harroun-jabhat-al-nusrah-syria

Eric Har­roun

Update — Octo­ber 15: Arrest of Orange County man and fate of Pitts­burgh man drawn to Syr­ian front under­scores emerg­ing trend.

Increas­ing num­bers of for­eign fight­ers, includ­ing Amer­i­cans, have been attracted to the con­flict in Syria and are attempt­ing to join the rebels fight­ing against the Assad regime.

Accord­ing to some observers, there are some­where between 5,000 and 6,000 for­eign fight­ers already in Syria, com­pris­ing about 10% of the rebel forces. Esti­mates of fight­ers arriv­ing from Europe vary widely, from fewer than 200 to over 600. Var­i­ous rebel groups have claimed “mar­tyrs” from Britain, Den­mark, France and Ireland.

To date, there have been three pub­licly dis­closed cases of Amer­i­cans involved in fight­ing with rebels. Each has been linked to Jab­hat al-Nusrah (JN), a State Department-designated alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq (it is unknown how many Amer­i­cans have entered the con­flict on the side of rebel fac­tions unaf­fil­i­ated with Al Qaeda).

  • Eric Har­roun, a for­mer Amer­i­can sol­dier, was arrested in March 2013 for allegedly con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass destruc­tion while fight­ing with Jab­hat Al-Nusrah in Syria. While Har­roun was not nec­es­sar­ily recruited, after arriv­ing in Syria he appeared in a pro­pa­ganda video put out by Jab­hat Al-Nusrah. On June 20, Har­roun was indicted on charges of con­spir­acy to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to a for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion and con­spir­acy to use a destruc­tive device over­seas. Eric Har­roun 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 Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, who was arrested in Chicago in April 2013, allegedly researched ways to join Jab­hat al-Nusrah on the inter­net. He allegedly found a web­site adver­tis­ing itself as pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion to those inter­ested in join­ing “your lion broth­ers of Jab­hat Al-Nusrah who are fight­ing under the true ban­ner of Islam.” The web­site, how­ever, was cre­ated by the FBI to attract poten­tial extremists.
  • Nicole Mans­field, a con­vert to Islam from Michi­gan, was killed in Syria in May 2013. Accord­ing to Syr­ian state-controlled media, she was killed in a car along with two oth­ers, includ­ing a Briton, while fight­ing with the rebels. Syr­ian media claimed that JN’s flag was found in the car.  It should be noted that the Syr­ian regime con­sid­ers all rebel fight­ers and their allies to be ter­ror­ists. Mansfield’s fam­ily did not know she was in Syria, but say that she had been inter­ested in the Arab Spring.

Syr­ian rebel groups, includ­ing JN, have cre­ated social media space and var­i­ous pro­pa­ganda to raise aware­ness, sup­port and poten­tial recruits for their cause in the English-speaking world. These include the exploita­tion of Face­book, blogs, Twit­ter and other platforms.

In the past, Amer­i­cans have proven will­ing to join mil­i­tant groups abroad. For exam­ple, since 2007, at least 52 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been arrested or charged in con­nec­tion with mak­ing trips abroad in attempts to reach ter­ror­ist groups, receive train­ing, or to par­tic­i­pate in ter­ror­ist attacks. Many of these indi­vid­u­als joined Al Shabaab, but other indi­vid­u­als trav­eled abroad to receive train­ing in Pak­istan or to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula.

The con­flict in Syria has attracted for­eign sup­port not just for the rebel cause, but for the Assad regime as well. Iran’s Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards Corps is report­edly assist­ing the regime, and Hezbol­lah fight­ers have joined with the Syr­ian army in com­bat­ing the rebels.

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January 31, 2013 1

App Developer Supplies Iranian Broadcasts Despite International Efforts

A UK-based mobile appli­ca­tion devel­oper named Shab­bir Has­sanally has cre­ated a series of apps allow­ing users to access news from a num­ber of Iran­ian tele­vi­sion sta­tions whose trans­mis­sions have been blocked since late last year.

Has­sanally is the co-founder Code of Zero, a firm respon­si­ble for the devel­op­ment of offi­cial apps for sev­eral of Iran­ian news sta­tions, includ­ing Iran’s English-language pro­pa­ganda sta­tion Press TV, and its sis­ter sta­tion, Spanish-language His­pan TV, both of which pro­mote vir­u­lent anti-Semitic and anti-West propaganda.

The apps are avail­able for down­load in the Apple App Store and Google Mar­ket­place for free and allow Iran­ian pro­pa­ganda to reach an even wider audience.

In Octo­ber 2012, the France-based satel­lite car­rier Eutel­sat banned the broad­cast of 19 tele­vi­sion and radio sta­tions from Iran’s state broad­caster, Islamic Repub­lic of Iran Broad­cast­ing (IRIB). A cou­ple months later, His­panSat, a Spain-based satel­lite provider that broad­cast His­pan TV, fol­lowed suit and ended its trans­mis­sion of IRIB sta­tions. Both satel­lite car­ri­ers have cited EU sanc­tions against Iran as part of the basis to dis­con­tinue the trans­mis­sion of IRIB sta­tions in the West.

Has­sanally has a his­tory of involve­ment with Iranian-backed pro­grams and orga­ni­za­tions. Has­sanally was respon­si­ble for the man­age­ment of the offi­cial web­site for the 2012 Global March To Jerusalem (GMJ), a cam­paign that coor­di­nated efforts by activists to cross Israel’s bor­ders and enter Jerusalem. Addi­tion­ally, Has­sanally hosts the offi­cial site for the Ahlul­Bayt Islamic Mis­sion (AIM), a UK-based Shi’a orga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes the Iran­ian regime’s ideology.

In Decem­ber 2012, the Anti-Defamation League released its report, Iran’s Press TV: Broad­cast­ing Anti-Semitism To The Eng­lish Speak­ing World.

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May 23, 2012 0

Anti-Semite Dieudonne In the News in France

Update: Dieudonne ran unsuc­cess­fully for French Par­lia­ment as the Anti-Zionist Party can­di­date from Dreux. He was elim­i­nated in the sec­ond round of the elec­tion, receiv­ing just 1.14% of votes castHis film, L’Antisémite, has been banned from the Cannes film fes­ti­val for vio­lat­ing the festival’s pol­icy of not “threat­en­ing pub­lic order or insult­ing reli­gious beliefs.”

Anti-Semitic per­former Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala has gar­nered some media atten­tion in France since he announced on May 18 that he will be run­ning for Par­lia­ment as a mem­ber of the Anti-Zionist Party (Parti Anti-Sioniste or PAS) in upcom­ing elec­tions. Dieudonne is known for his per­for­mances which rou­tinely include Holo­caust denial, praise for Adolf Hitler, Nazi salutes, slurs against the Tal­mud and other anti-Semitic language.

This is not Dieudonne’s first time run­ning for polit­i­cal office. Most recently, he stood as a can­di­date for the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in 2009 with the Anti-Zionist Party, receiv­ing 1.3% of the vote. Accord­ing to its web­site, the Anti-Zionist Party’s pri­mary goal is to remove the “Zion­ist inter­ven­tion” from the pub­lic affairs of France.

Dieudonne, one of four PAS mem­bers run­ning for Par­lia­ment, hopes to rep­re­sent the city of Dreux, 50 miles west of Paris. The other PAS can­di­dates are run­ning in the 8th and 13th dis­tricts in the North as well as the 14th dis­trict in the Rhone region.

While Dieudonne has repeat­edly been pros­e­cuted for his racist and anti-Semitic per­for­mances and com­ments, none of his crim­i­nal con­vic­tions ren­der his can­di­dacy ille­gal. Accord­ing to an arti­cle in the French edi­tion of The Huff­in­g­ton Post, even if his cam­paign mate­ri­als incite hatred or racial vio­lence, the penal­ties would be sig­nif­i­cant (€45,000 fine and five years in prison) but would not make him inel­i­gi­ble for Parliament.

As a 501©(3) orga­ni­za­tion, ADL does not endorse or oppose can­di­dates for office in the United States or abroad.

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