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August 1, 2012 0

Nidal Hasan Email Correspondence with Al-Awlaki Released

This month, the FBI released cor­re­spon­dence between Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter who killed 13 peo­ple and injured 32 oth­ers in Novem­ber 2009, and Anwar al–Awlaki, the influ­en­tial American-born ter­ror­ist ide­o­logue who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in Sep­tem­ber 2011. The cor­re­spon­dence – 16 emails sent by Hasan to al-Awlaki and two responses from al-Awlaki – reflects Hasan’s inter­est in argu­ments jus­ti­fy­ing acts of violence.

The emails were included in the final inde­pen­dent report inves­ti­gat­ing the Bureau’s han­dling of intel­li­gence sur­round­ing the 2009 shoot­ing.  Accord­ing to the report, aside from blast emails orig­i­nat­ing from al-Awlaki’s web­site, these 16 mes­sages encom­pass all of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion between Hasan and al-Awlaki in the time frame sur­round­ing the attack.

Less than a year before the shoot­ing, on Decem­ber 17, 2008, Hasan asked al-Awlaki for his view on Mus­lims serv­ing in the U.S. mil­i­tary and whether attack­ing mil­i­tary per­son­nel was a good idea. Two weeks later, on Jan­u­ary 1, Hasan wrote to Awlaki that hatred of the Israel could unify “all Mus­lims regard­less of… dif­fer­ence [sic].”  He also decried the dou­ble stan­dard he per­ceived was applied to Israel and the U.S. in rela­tion to the Mus­lim world.

Later that month, Hasan asked for al-Awlaki’s opin­ion on “indis­crim­i­nately killing civil­ians,” and sent another mes­sage sev­eral days later that read, “the West­ern world makes clear that it does not want Islamic rule to pre­vail.” On Feb­ru­ary 19, Hasan claimed that al-Awlaki has “a very huge fol­low­ing” in the United States that is afraid to be vocal. A mes­sage from Hasan three days later noted that his “goal is Jan­nat Fir­daus [Par­adise].”  On Feb­ru­ary 28, Hasan shared a sur­vey with al-Awlaki that he claimed “shows that most Mus­lims feel that the U.S. is try­ing to under­mine Islam [sic].” A few months later, on May 31, Hasan asked for al-Awlaki’s opin­ion on sui­cide bombings.

In one of the two emails al-Awlaki wrote to Hasan, dated Feb­ru­ary 19, 2009, he said that he would be unable to award a schol­ar­ship estab­lished in his honor and expressed his dis­com­fort with the idea.  The other email, from Feb­ru­ary 22, sug­gested that Hasan help “poor peo­ple, orphans, wid­ows, dawa [Mus­lim out­reach] projects.”  Both mes­sages are dated more than eight months prior to the attack.  Hasan appar­ently never heard from al-Awlaki again, despite con­tin­u­ing to con­tact him through June.

Although al-Awlaki did not respond directly to later emails from Hasan, in the 8th issue of the ter­ror­ist mag­a­zine Inspire, released in May 2012, al-Awlaki wrote that “the pop­u­la­tions of the nations that are at war with the Mus­lims and espe­cially those who are at the lead such as the U.S., Britain and France should be tar­geted by the mujahidin in oper­a­tions that employ explo­sives, poi­sons, firearms and all other meth­ods that lead to inflict­ing the great­est harm on them…”

The release of these emails belie al-Awlaki’s claims in the after­math of the attack that he had “blessed the act because it was against a mil­i­tary tar­get,” gave Hasan “per­mis­sion to carry out his attacks at Fort Hood,” and instructed him to “kill other Amer­i­can sol­diers.” His cor­re­spon­dence to Hasan was, in fact, rel­a­tively innocuous.

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July 27, 2012 1

Hezbollah on Your iPhone: There’s An App for That

Update: The Alma­nartv appli­ca­tion was removed from Apple’s iTunes over the week­end. It was later removed from Google Play for Android.

In the lat­est exam­ple of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions exploit­ing cur­rent tech­nol­ogy to spread their vio­lent mes­sages, an appli­ca­tion was made avail­able on Wednes­day through Apple’s iTunes ser­vice pro­vid­ing mobile access to con­tent from Hezbollah’s satel­lite tele­vi­sion sta­tion, al-Manar.

The new free appli­ca­tion, adver­tised on air by al Manar, directs users to var­i­ous sta­tion con­tent, includ­ing speeches by Hezbol­lah leader, Has­san Nas­ral­lah. Al-Manar broad­casts the ter­ror­ist group’s mes­sages of hate and vio­lence, dis­sem­i­nates anti-Semitic and anti-American pro­pa­ganda and glo­ri­fies sui­cide bomb­ings to mil­lions of view­ers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hezbol­lah is a U.S. des­ig­nated For­eign Ter­ror­ist Orga­ni­za­tion, and al-Manar was listed as a “Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Global Ter­ror­ist” by the Depart­ment of the Trea­sury in 2006.Al-Manar has a pres­ence on other inter­net plat­forms as well, includ­ing a Twit­ter account with over 17,000 fol­low­ers and 51,000 messages.

Other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions use the microblog­ging ser­vice, includ­ing Al Shabaab, a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion in Soma­lia which for­mally merged with Al Qaeda ear­lier this year. There are also numer­ous ter­ror­ist sup­port pages on Face­book and other social media platforms.

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May 23, 2012 0

Alabama Jihadist Omar Hammami Resurfaces Online

Update: An audio lec­ture by Ham­mami posted online on May 25 may pro­vide insights into his appar­ent rift with Al Shabaab.  In the 45-minute lec­ture, orig­i­nally posted online in Jan­u­ary but quickly removed, he crit­i­cizes jihadist orga­ni­za­tions with a local focus, liken­ing them to a “can­cer­ous tumor.” He also calls for all Mus­lims to unite in a “jihad of the entire Ummah [Mus­lim nation]” under the ban­ner of restored Caliphate. 

Amid rumors of his death and his own dec­la­ra­tion that his “life may be endan­gered by” the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion he joined in Soma­lia, Omar Ham­mami, an Alabama native who became the pub­lic face and voice of Al Shabaab, announced that he is still alive in part 1 of his autobiography.

In the auto­bi­og­ra­phy, dis­sem­i­nated online on May 16, Ham­mami describes his jour­ney from Alabama to his involve­ment in the cre­ation of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-linked Somali ter­ror­ist group.

He calls join­ing jihad “the dream of any Mus­lim who has the love of the reli­gion burn­ing in his heart” and main­tains that it is “truly an indi­vid­ual oblig­a­tion upon all of us.” Ham­mami por­trays him­self as “a man with no regrets” despite his appar­ent falling out with Al Shabaab’s leadership.

In describ­ing his role as a ter­ror­ist pro­pa­gan­dist, Ham­mami advises that “being casual, when pos­si­ble, is a bet­ter approach when reach­ing out to those like myself in the West… my peers can smell a poser from a mile away.” He also stresses the impor­tance of media to the jihadist move­ment. “The war of nar­ra­tives has become even more impor­tant than the war of navies, napalms, and knives.

Ham­mami also dis­cusses his rela­tion­ship with Daniel Mal­don­ado, an Amer­i­can cur­rently serv­ing 10 years in prison for receiv­ing mil­i­tant train­ing in Soma­lia with him after they trav­eled together to the Mid­dle East.

Ham­mami con­cludes part 1 by urg­ing oth­ers to emu­late him. “Not that I’m extremely spe­cial, but then again I haven’t seen too many mid­dle class ‘white’ guys from Alabama in Jihaad these days. Hope­fully oth­ers will say to them­selves: ‘I can do that too!’”

On May 22, a photo of Ham­mami pos­ing with a com­puter dis­play­ing the auto­bi­og­ra­phy was released online, osten­si­bly to con­firm that he is indeed still alive and that the auto­bi­og­ra­phy is authentic.

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