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July 6, 2016 13

Extremists Make Plans For GOP Convention

Updated July 21, 2016

The GOP con­ven­tion in Cleve­land (July 18–21) is a key oppor­tu­nity for a range of extrem­ists and big­ots who seek pub­lic­ity to voice their sup­port or oppo­si­tion to Don­ald Trump – and their hatred for any­one who dis­agrees with them.

As the Anti-Defamation League has noted, the 2016 U.S. Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign – and one can­di­date in par­tic­u­lar – has elicited unprece­dented lev­els of engage­ment and enthu­si­asm among anti-government and white suprema­cist extrem­ist groups.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism has been mon­i­tor­ing extrem­ists’ plans to attend the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion in Cleve­land and has shared this infor­ma­tion with fed­eral law enforce­ment agents man­ag­ing secu­rity for the event. We will share new infor­ma­tion with those agents as it becomes available.

The fol­low­ing list of expected atten­dees is var­ied, rang­ing from indi­vid­u­als to orga­nized groups. This reflects the sup­port (and some­times oppo­si­tion) Don­ald Trump receives from a wide range of extrem­ists. It should be noted, there is no indi­ca­tion that Trump  sup­ports these groups.

  • Richard Spencer, who heads the National Pol­icy, a small white suprema­cist think tank, trav­eled to Cleve­land to pro­mote his racist views. Spencer held up a sign say­ing “Wanna Talk to a ‘Racist’? and report­edly said he “wanted to demys­tify white sep­a­ratism” for the peo­ple he encoun­tered in the pub­lic square near the con­ven­tion. Spencer also report­edly attended the “Wake Up!” party hosted by con­ser­v­a­tive activists, which included con­tro­ver­sial speak­ers such as Milos Yiannopou­los and anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician.
  • Mem­bers of the anti-refugee vig­i­lante group Sol­diers of Odin USA, spot­ted out­side the con­ven­tion hall in Cleve­land, told a reporter they were there as a “com­mu­nity watch” orga­ni­za­tion and had no plans to con­front any­one unless they sensed “immi­nent dan­ger.” While they claim not to be racist, the Sol­diers of Odin USA are in fact vir­u­lently anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant. The group orig­i­nated in Fin­land, but has attracted thou­sands of mem­bers and admir­ers here in the United States, many of whom are either white suprema­cists or anti-government extremists.
  • Anti-government con­spir­acy the­o­rist Alex Jones spoke at a rally for Trump near the con­ven­tion hall host­ing the RNC, where he accused “glob­al­ists” of try­ing to imple­ment a “world gov­ern­ment.” Jones runs the Infowars web­site where he pro­motes  con­spir­acy the­o­ries such as the idea that the gov­ern­ment is behind the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks and  is try­ing to strip Amer­i­cans of their rights, espe­cially their rights to free speech and to own firearms.

  • The Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party is an anti-Semitic, white suprema­cist group run by Matthew Heim­bach and Matt Par­rott.  They report­edly filed per­mits to march in Cleve­land but later announced alter­na­tive plans. Heim­bach showed up out­side the con­ven­tion any­way, voic­ing his dis­ap­proval for Trump, whose poli­cies “don’t go far enough” in advanc­ing white nation­al­ism, and urg­ing fol­low­ers to write in George Lin­coln Rock­well, founder of the Amer­i­can Nazi Party.

  • West­boro Bap­tist Church: Five mem­bers of the ven­omously anti-gayand anti-Semitic Kansas church plan to be in Cleve­land to protest the Repub­li­can Party and to warn atten­dees of the “immi­nent judgment”
    Westboro Baptist Church members at a protest

    West­boro Bap­tist Church mem­bers at a protest

    fac­ing the United States. WBC mem­bers are best known for pick­et­ing the funer­als of fallen U.S. sol­diers, car­ry­ing signs cel­e­brat­ing their deaths (because God hates America’s evil ways). Mem­bers of the church are equal oppor­tu­nity big­ots: They also plan to protest at the Demo­c­ra­tic National Con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia. Expect to see them car­ry­ing their usual signs – express­ing their bound­less, unmoored hatred for every­thing from gay rights to Israel.

  • Blood and Hon­our USA: This racist skin­head group is the Amer­i­can chap­ter of a loose inter­na­tional con­fed­er­a­tion of hard­core racist skin­heads.  Some mem­bers of Blood and Hon­our USA have in the past com­mit­ted vio­lent acts.  One of the group’s lead­ers announced on social media that he and a num­ber of other mem­bers would be in Cleve­land sup­port­ing Trump and wear­ing t-shirts bear­ing the Totenkopf (death’s head) – a sym­bol used by the SS in World War II.

    William Johnson of American Freedom Party

    William John­son of Amer­i­can Free­dom Party

  • Amer­i­can Free­dom Party: This white suprema­cist group is headed by attor­ney William John­son. John­son made head­lines in the spring of 2016 with his “robo­calls” to vot­ers in cru­cial pri­mary states, entreat­ing peo­ple to “defend the white race” by vot­ing for Trump, and again in May when it was revealed that he was on the list of Trump del­e­gates for Cal­i­for­nia. Blam­ing a “data­base error,” the Trump cam­paign removed John­son from its list, but AFP responded with this glee­ful Face­book mes­sage:  “…here’s what they don’t know: we have more delegates!”
  • David Riden (Trump del­e­gate from Ten­nessee): Mem­ber of the anti-government Patriot Move­ment. Riden has said he believes mem­bers of the cur­rent U.S. gov­ern­ment deserve to be killed for “abus­ing the Constitution.”
  • Jim Sta­chowiak:  Mem­ber of the anti-government Patriot Move­ment. This right-wing, rabidly anti-Muslim extrem­ist from Geor­gia will be in Cleve­land to sup­port Don­ald Trump, and has called upon “all mil­i­tary vet­er­ans, law enforce­ment vet­er­ans, fol­lowed by three-percenters, patri­ots,” to “come law­fully armed with lethal and non-lethal weaponry,” has advo­cated for Mecca to be bombed, and has made not par­tic­u­larly veiled threats against Black Lives Mat­ter activists, whom he refers to as “ter­ror­ists.”  Sta­chowiak, a for­mer uni­ver­sity pub­lic safety offi­cer turned mili­tia fan boy and online radio host, has been arrested sev­eral times.

    malik-zulu-shabazz-hashim-nzinga-charleston-south-carolina-june-2015-350x234

    The New Black Pan­ther Party at a protest in Charleston, South Carolina

  • The New Black Pan­ther Party: The NBPP will be in Cleve­land to protest against Don­ald Trump. In the days lead­ing up to the con­ven­tion, the pro­foundly anti-Semitic, black supremacy group will hold a series of protests and work­shops in part­ner­ship with Black Lawyers for Jus­tice, which is headed by for­mer NBPP leader (and cur­rent “spir­i­tual advi­sor”) Malik Zulu Shabazz. The NBPP, which is known for its calls for vio­lence against law enforce­ment, has announced plans to carry guns dur­ing its protests in Cleve­land. The New Black Pan­ther Party is not affil­i­ated with the orig­i­nal Black Pan­ther Party, whose mem­bers have harshly crit­i­cized the NBPP for “hijack­ing” the orig­i­nal group’s message.
  • Anti-Muslim activsts: Pro-LGBT con­ser­v­a­tive activists are host­ing a party called “Wake Up“ at the Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion in Cleve­land on July 19. The event will fea­ture anti-Muslim extrem­ist Pamela Geller and Milo Yiannopou­los, a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure who report­edly made anti-Semitic com­ments in the past about Jew­ish con­trol of banks and the media. Other fea­tured speak­ers include Geert Wilders, a well-known anti-Muslim Dutch politi­cian, and Ann Coul­ter, a polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor known for her extreme anti-immigrant posi­tion. Accord­ing to a post on the per­sonal blog of Pamela Geller, “The party is the out­come of dis­cus­sions among a group of gay Repub­li­cans fol­low­ing the tragic mas­sacre at a gay night­club in Orlando in June.” This appears to be an attempt to pro­mote an anti-Muslim agenda among this group of pro-LGBT conservatives.
  • The Oath Keep­ers will be on the ground in Cleve­land, osten­si­bly to “help” patrol the area, as they did with long guns dur­ing the protests in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, fol­low­ing the shoot­ing death of Michael Brown. The anti-government extrem­ist group’s web­site has denounced “rad­i­cals’” plans to protest at the con­ven­tion, and calls for vol­un­teers to par­tic­i­pate in “Oper­a­tion North Coast,” an “intel­li­gence gath­er­ing” effort. This hyper-militarized lan­guage is typ­i­cal of the Oath Keep­ers, who recruit from the mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment in their efforts to build a force capa­ble of resist­ing “gov­ern­ment overreach.”

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May 4, 2015 2

Garland Shooting Overshadows Anti-Muslim Event Featuring Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Police shot and killed two sus­pects who opened fire at a Gar­land, Texas, cen­ter host­ing a “Muham­mad Art Exhibit and Car­toon Con­test.” The Amer­i­can Free­dom Defense Ini­tia­tive (AFDI), an anti-Muslim orga­ni­za­tion headed by Pamela Geller, orga­nized the event, which fea­tured anti-Muslim Dutch Par­lia­men­tar­ian Geert Wilders as the main speaker.  Geller also heads Stop Islamiza­tion of Amer­ica, which oper­ates under the aus­pices of AFDI and seeks to rouse pub­lic fears about a vast Islamic con­spir­acy to destroy Amer­i­can values.

The shoot­ing over­shad­owed the Muham­mad car­toon con­test which AFDI billed as an event “in defense of free speech.”  AFDI asked peo­ple to sub­mit car­toons of Muham­mad and promised $10,000 to the win­ner of the con­test.  The con­test was also AFDI’s response to the ter­ror attack in Paris in which 12 peo­ple who worked for the satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo were killed by Mus­lim ter­ror­ists angry over the depic­tion of Muham­mad in the pub­li­ca­tion.  It is also evi­dent that the con­test would incite the Mus­lim com­mu­nity and oth­ers opposed to anti-Muslim big­otry. AFDI chose to hold it at the same venue where the Mus­lim com­mu­nity recently held a “Stand With the Prophet Against Ter­ror & Hate” event.

In his speech at the car­toon con­test, Wilders asserted that “We will never allow Islam to rob us of our free­dom of speech.” He said that the con­test was held “in defi­ance of Islam” and that “depict­ing Muham­mad is an act of lib­er­a­tion.”  Wilders declared, “Let us de-Islamize our soci­eties! No more Islam, no more mosques, no more Islamic schools. It is time for our own cul­ture and heritage.”

It is no sur­prise that Gellers invited Wilders to be the keynote speaker at the car­toon con­test. Both have pro­moted an anti-Muslim agenda for years and have worked together pre­vi­ously. Like Geller, Wilders has made it his mis­sion to “warn peo­ple of the Islamiza­tion of our West­ern societies.”

The car­toon con­test was one of four events at which Wilders spoke over the past week in the United States. On April 29, two mem­bers of Con­gress, Steven King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), invited Wilders to speak at two sep­a­rate events in DC. At one of the events, a meet­ing of the Con­ser­v­a­tive Oppor­tu­nity Soci­ety, founded by for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, Wilders com­pared Islam to Nazism and declared that the West should end all immi­gra­tion from Islamic coun­tries. The next day, Wilders spoke at a press con­fer­ence in front of the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton, along with Rep­re­sen­ta­tives King and Gohmert. Wilders once again spoke out against Islamic immi­gra­tion and argued that Islam has tried to sub­ju­gate the coun­tries where there is a Mus­lim majority.

Wilders brought up sim­i­lar themes in his speech at the car­toon con­test, which he deliv­ered before the shoot­ing. No mat­ter how offen­sive an event or pro­gram may be, there is no place in our com­mu­nity or our coun­try for the vio­lence that took place out­side the event. 

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May 4, 2015 1

Alleged Garland Shooter Indicated His Intent Online

Elton Simpson

Elton Simp­son

Author­i­ties have iden­ti­fied one of the alleged shoot­ers at the shoot­ing at a Gar­land, Texas, com­mu­nity cen­ter yes­ter­day as Elton Simp­son, a 30-year-old res­i­dent of Phoenix, Ari­zona. He and an accom­plice, iden­ti­fied as 34-year-old Nadir Soofi, who was report­edly Simpson’s room­mate, are the 33rd and 34th Amer­i­cans linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism this year, and their shoot­ing marks the eighth domes­tic ter­ror plot moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2015. These num­bers rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant spike over pre­vi­ous years, and are likely related at least in part to the exten­sive and sophis­ti­cated online pro­pa­ganda cam­paigns pro­moted by ISIS and its supporters.

Simp­son main­tained an active pres­ence on Twit­ter, with at least 8 accounts that he used to net­work with ISIS sup­port­ers and share extrem­ist ideas. Prior to the attack, ADL had been mon­i­tor­ing at least one account believed to be his, under the name “Sharia [Islamic jurispru­dence] is Light.” His pro­file pic­ture was that of Anwar al-Awlaki, an Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, killed in 2011, who is reg­u­larly quoted in ter­ror­ist cir­cles and has been cited as an inspi­ra­tion by many Amer­i­can Islamic extrem­ists. Simp­son used the pro­file to tweet pro­pa­ganda favor­ing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as to share the names of new ISIS sup­porter accounts that replaced accounts pre­vi­ously sus­pended for pro­mot­ing terrorism.

garland-texas-twitter-threat

An ISIS sup­porter encour­aged vio­lence against the event on Twitter

In recent days, ter­ror sup­port­ers on Twit­ter had been call­ing for vio­lence against the event in Texas, which fea­tured anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, as well as a con­test in which par­tic­i­pants were asked to draw car­toons of the Mus­lim prophet Mohamed. One ISIS sup­porter, for exam­ple, tweeted, “Broth­ers in Gar­land Texas Please go to there with your weapons, bombs or with your knives. Threaten your ene­mies & the ene­mies of Allaah,” and, “I think thy forgt the pre­vi­ous attack [against the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine, which printed car­toons about Mohamed] done by our french bros, walahi [indeed] we wil kill u if u dare to insult our Prophet. Fol­low­ing the attack, that same indi­vid­ual tweeted that Simp­son “was favourit­ing my stuff about the Texas event.”

About half an hour before the shoot­ing, Simp­son appeared to claim respon­si­bil­ity on Twit­ter, writ­ing, “The bro with me and myself have given bay’ah [alle­giance] to Amirul Mu’mineen [lit­er­ally ‘Prince of the Believ­ers,’ a ref­er­ence to the Caliph and, in con­text, to the head of ISIS]. May Allah accept us as mujahideen [fight­ers]. Make dua [prayer] #tex­as­at­tack.”

Simpson's claim of responsibility on Twitter

Simpson’s claim of responsibility

ISIS and its sup­port­ers have been vocal in call­ing for home­grown attacks against West­ern  coun­tries and have used the pur­ported defama­tion of Muham­mad as a ratio­nale for vio­lence. Fol­low­ing the Paris attacks against the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine and a kosher super­mar­ket, ISIS sup­port­ers launched a Twit­ter cam­paign with the hash­tag #Fight­forHim, ‘him’ being a ref­er­ence to Muham­mad, advo­cat­ing “the duty of killing those who insult our Prophet Muhammad.”

Simp­son had been under inves­ti­ga­tion for ter­ror­ist activ­ity in the past.  In 2009, he allegedly indi­cated inter­est in Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda affil­i­ate, telling an infor­mant, “It’s time to go to Soma­lia, brother. We know plenty of broth­ers from Soma­lia. We’re going to make it to the bat­tle­field. It’s time to roll.” He was arrested in 2010 and found guilty of mak­ing false state­ments to fed­eral agents, after which he was sen­tenced to three years’ probation.

Since 2014, ISIS has suc­ceeded Al Shabaab as the fore­most recruiter of Amer­i­can mil­i­tants. A num­ber of Amer­i­cans who pre­vi­ously sup­ported Al Shabaab, includ­ing Amer­i­cans who joined Al Shabaab and act as recruiters from abroad, have since become advo­cates for ISIS.

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