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May 7, 2015 2

Minnesotan In Somalia Encourages Americans To Engage In Terror

Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan

Mohamed Abdul­lahi Hassan

Update — 6/17/2015: Two addi­tional U.S. res­i­dents have been linked with Has­san since this blog was first posted: Nicholas Rovin­ski of Rhode Island, arrested 6/12/2015 for pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to ter­ror and his role in a Boston-area attack plot and Munther Omar Saleh of New York, arrested 6/16/2015 for pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port for ter­ror and a New York attack plot, both report­edly directed mes­sages to Has­san on Twitter.

Mohamed Abdul­lahi Has­san, who author­i­ties believe may have inter­acted with the Gar­land shoot­ers, may have inspired as many as 11 peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. to take action in the last two years.

Has­san is a per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­dent who was indicted in 2009 for trav­el­ling to Soma­lia to join Al Shabaab. He is believed to have com­mu­ni­cated with Amer­i­cans through his exten­sive social media net­works, on which he is known as Mujahid Miski or Muham­mad Miski. He has actively sup­ported and pro­moted ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda on Face­book, on the social media ques­tion and answer site Ask.FM, and on over 30 Twit­ter accounts.

Prior to the May 3 shoot­ing in Gar­land, Texas, Has­san report­edly inter­acted on Twit­ter with one of the alleged shoot­ers, Elton Simp­son. In April, Simp­son asked Has­san to fol­low his Twit­ter account so the two could pri­vately exchange mes­sages. Then, on April 23, Has­san wrote a tweet urg­ing attacks against the event at the com­mu­nity cen­ter that stated, “The broth­ers from the Char­lie Hebdo attack did their part. It’s time for broth­ers in the #US to do their part.” Later that day, Simp­son tweeted at Has­san, “When will they ever learn. They are plan­ning on select­ing the best pic­ture drawn of Rasu­l­ul­lah (Muham­mad)… in Texas.” Has­san retweeted the tweet.

Notably, Simp­son allegedly sought to travel to Soma­lia to join Al Shabaab in 2009 – one year after Has­san did. It is unknown if the two knew each other in the U.S. Has­san has also inter­acted online with sev­eral other Amer­i­cans fac­ing ter­ror­ism charges, includ­ing Abdi Nur, who allegedly trav­eled to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Has­san com­mu­ni­cated with Nur on Face­book, ask­ing Nur, “us broth­ers from mpls (Min­neapo­lis) wanted to know how many you guys are back there in Sham (Syria),” to which Nur responded, “only three of us. The oth­ers there are still workin mak­ing hijrah (mov­ing abroad).”

The Face­book con­ver­sa­tions between Nur and Has­san also indi­cated that the two may have known each other when they lived in the U.S. Nur asked Has­san to “send [a mutual friend] my salams (greet­ings) akhi (brother)…please remind him that the salams came from abdi­yare [Nur] that you went to south­west [high school] with.” Nur was indicted together with Min­nesota res­i­dent Abdul­lah Yusuf in 2014. In 2015, six addi­tional Min­nesota res­i­dents were charged as part of the same con­spir­acy to travel to join ISIS.

Elton Simpson promoted Hassan's most recent Twitter account, @LoveHooooooooor

Elton Simp­son pro­moted Hassan’s recent Twit­ter account, @Love_H0000riyah

A third Amer­i­can, Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain, is alleged to have had con­tact with Has­san as well. McCain died fight­ing with ISIS in August 2014. Fol­low­ing McCain’s death, Has­san retweeted mul­ti­ple state­ments from McCain’s Twit­ter pro­file, @iamthetooth, and wrote, ““The Hard­est thing in Jihad is when a brother u  love is granted Sha­hadah [mar­tyr­dom]. Today im expe­ri­enc­ing those feel­ings. May Allah accept @iamthetooth.”

Has­san reg­u­larly inter­acts with many other uniden­ti­fied indi­vid­u­als online and is well known in extrem­ist social media cir­cles. Despite his reported mem­ber­ship in Al Shabaab, he advo­cates for his con­tacts to join ISIS if pos­si­ble, although he has tweeted both Al Shabaab and ISIS pro­pa­ganda too. On Jan­u­ary 29, 2014, he wrote, “My Heart is in Sham [Syria], my eyes are in Aqsa [Jerusalem] and My Soul is in Somalia.”

Hassan’s account on Ask.FM, an anony­mous ques­tion and answer ser­vice, is illus­tra­tive of the sup­port he pro­vided for English-speakers to join ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions. For exam­ple, one indi­vid­ual on the site asked, “My brother wants to be a mujahid (fighter) but he’s got glasses. Will that stop him from becom­ing one?” Has­san responded, “He can be a Mujahid and still wear glasses…And don’t worry about loos­ing (sic) them or brak­ing (sic) them because if you do insha Allah (God will­ing) you’ll have a new one made for you.” Another indi­vid­ual asked, “What does your last answer mean? Where you said ‘Don’t waste time and try to be one of the builders of the Islamic khi­laafah (Caliphate).’” Has­san responded, “It basi­cally means every minute and ever sec­ond is wasted if you’re not out there build­ing the Islamic Caliphate. Go out and make hijrah (travel) from the east and west and join the Jihad. Let your blood be the water for the tree of Khilaafah.”

Has­san grew up in Min­nesota and attended Roo­sevelt High School in Min­neapo­lis. He is believed to have trav­eled to Soma­lia in 2008 and is report­edly still a mem­ber of Al Shabaab.

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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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April 14, 2015 3

New ISIS Videos Threaten U.S. Amid Increase In Domestic Plots

Image promoting new ISIS video

Image pro­mot­ing new ISIS video

Two new videos released this week by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demon­strate a ramp­ing up of threats against the U.S. as ter­ror groups increas­ingly call for home­grown attacks against West­ern coun­tries – and as indi­vid­u­als increas­ingly appear to be heed­ing those calls.

Recent arrests of U.S. res­i­dents plan­ning domes­tic attacks in ISIS’s name indi­cates that such calls for vio­lence can have an impact on Amer­i­cans moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism and the pro­pa­ganda they find online dis­trib­uted by ISIS and other ter­ror groups.

There have been five alleged instances of domes­tic plots in the U.S. in 2015, rang­ing from con­ver­sa­tions about the pos­si­bil­ity of attack to actual attempted attacks. All were report­edly planned by indi­vid­u­als claim­ing alle­giance to ISIS.

  • Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell of Ohio, arrested in Jan­u­ary for his alleged plot to attack the U.S. Capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad.
  • Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov of New York, arrested in Feb­ru­ary and charged with mate­r­ial sup­port for ter­ror. Court doc­u­ments state they were attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack.
  • Hasan and Jonas Edmonds of Illi­nois, arrested in March and charged with attempt­ing to join ISIS and plot­ting an attack against a mil­i­tary base.
  • Noelle Velentzas and Asia Sid­diqui of New York, arrested in April for allegedly pur­chas­ing bomb-making equip­ment with plans for an attack.
  • John T. Booker and Alexan­der Blair of Kansas, arrested in April for allegedly attempt­ing to under­take a sui­cide attack at the Ft. Riley mil­i­tary base.

These are among the 23 U.S. res­i­dents arrested on ter­ror charges thus far in 2015, all but two of whom claimed alle­giance to ISIS.

Both of the videos released this week fea­ture ref­er­ences to pre­vi­ous ter­ror attacks in West­ern coun­tries and footage of bru­tal exe­cu­tions of ISIS vic­tims in Iraq and Syria, as well as encour­age­ment of individually-directed domes­tic plots.

One of the videos, released on April 10, was titled “We Will Burn Amer­ica.” It fea­tured footage and praise of the Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Cen­ter along with nar­ra­tion in Ara­bic with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles stat­ing, “Sep­tem­ber 11 will be repeated.”

The video also fea­tures images from the attack on the Paris kosher super­mar­ket and shoot­ings in Canada, both of which were under­taken by indi­vid­u­als act­ing in ISIS’s name, as well as images of behead­ings by ISIS. Its style was rem­i­nis­cent of ISIS’s feature-film-length pro­pa­ganda video “Flames of War,” which was shot to resem­ble an action movie and high­lights the group’s ide­o­log­i­cal claims of a bat­tle between good and evil, Islam and the West.

“We Will Burn Amer­ica” was released on Twit­ter with the hash­tag #we_will_burn_america. ISIS reg­u­larly encour­ages its sup­port­ers to par­tic­i­pate in hash­tag cam­paigns designed to arti­fi­cially cre­ate trend­ing items and spread the group’s pro­pa­ganda. Last sum­mer, the group under­took two hash­tag cam­paigns sim­i­larly threat­en­ing the U.S., with the hash­tags #Calami­ty­Will­Be­fal­lUS and #AMes­sage­FromI­SIS­ToUS.

The sec­ond video, released April 14, takes the form of a music video encour­ag­ing lone-wolf attacks and threat­en­ing West­ern coun­tries. The lan­guage is Ger­man, with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles. ISIS has released mul­ti­ple music videos to appeal to young audi­ences while con­vey­ing the group’s messages.

A screenshot from the new ISIS music video

A screen­shot from the new ISIS music video

Addressed “to the ene­mies of Allah,” the video’s nar­ra­tion states that “this is a mes­sage and more are going to fol­low.” The video por­trays a man read­ing the Qu’ran and watch­ing ISIS pro­pa­ganda on his com­puter, includ­ing graphic videos of behead­ings, the burn­ing of the Jor­dan­ian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, mass killings, and wounded sol­diers. “We want your blood,” it states, “it tastes so wonderful.”

It then shows indi­vid­u­als prepar­ing for dif­fer­ent types of domes­tic attacks, includ­ing a stab­bing, car bomb, and a sui­cide bomb­ing in Times Square, as well as learn­ing about gun use and bomb-making online – seem­ingly exam­ples for would-be domes­tic attack­ers and an acknowl­edg­ment of the impor­tance of online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda. Images of pre­vi­ous attacks against the West, includ­ing the attack against the Paris kosher super­mar­ket, are shown as well. “In France it has been proven by deeds. Ger­man sleeper cell are wait­ing,” it states. “Allah has called you! … Your neigh­bor is a kaf­fir (apos­tate)… take a big knife and give him what he rightly deserves.”

The release of the videos comes as ISIS is los­ing ter­ri­tory and recruits in the Mid­dle East. Losses by ter­ror­ist groups have often cor­re­sponded with increased calls for attacks abroad, which do not require resource expen­di­ture by the ter­ror group itself and can then be claimed as vic­to­ries for the group. Al Shabaab, for exam­ple, has sim­i­larly released calls for domes­tic attacks abroad in the past year as it under­goes losses of recruits, lead­er­ship, and ter­ri­tory in Soma­lia and its sur­round­ing countries.

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