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July 6, 2016

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

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

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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