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October 9, 2015

Incitement To Violence Against Jews Spreads Online

An image posted on Twitter with the Arabic hashtag #TheKnivesIntifada

An image posted on Twitter

As violence continues in Israel, with a deadly shooting and multiple stabbing and other attacks against Israelis this past week, individuals celebrating and promoting terrorism have taken to social media to encourage violence against Jews and Israelis.

Violent hashtags including #stabajew and the Arabic-language hashtag #theknivesintifada are being used by a wide spectrum of individuals who appear to support the murders of Israelis. The hashtag #alqudsunderattack is also being used in conjunction with the violence, particularly by Palestinian organizations and their supporters seeking religious justifications for terrorist incitement.

Online videos promoting the violence have included a cartoon re-enactment of the killing of Eitam and Naama Henkin, a young couple killed by Palestinian terrorists last Thursday in front of their children while driving in the West Bank. The video parallels cartoon videos that grew popular during car attacks against Israelis last fall.

A tweet by Hamas states, "We congratulate and support all forms of resistance using our people as a weapon under the complexities of the security situation.”

A tweet on the Hamas Twitter account reads, “We bless and support all forms of resistance in which our people use whatever weapons are available under the complicated security situation.”

Palestinian groups including Hamas and Fatah have added to the climate of online hate. Hamas’s social media pages and website have applauded the violence; one Tweet from an official Hamas platform read, “We bless and support all forms of resistance in which our people use whatever weapons are available under the complicated security situation.” Another Hamas tweet said Israel had brought “lone wolf” attacks upon itself, borrowing the phrase from ISIS and Al Qaeda, which have encouraged independent, ‘lone wolf’ action in their propaganda materials. Other Hamas posts glorified individuals associated with the murders of Israelis.

Social media posts affiliated with the Palestinian Fatah party have included images of identifiable Jewish caricatures being stabbed with knives.

ISIS supporters online, known for their adept manipulation of social media, are vocal on the issue as well. Multiple ISIS supporters have posted online threats against Jews. One individual who is a prominent ISIS supporter on Twitter based on his persistent online presence, strong following among other ISIS supporters, and regular posting of pro-ISIS news and propaganda posted a series of Tweets encouraging stabbings of Jews, including, “Kill jews. Kill all of them,” “Stab a Jew

A prominent ISIS supporter on Twitter posted about killing Jews

An ISIS supporter on Twitter posted about killing Jews

today. Tomorrow. Everyday,” “Happy international stab a Jew day guys,” and “Stab jews and have a juice.” Another equally prominent individual posted a similar series of Tweets that included, “Don (sic) stop oh muslims ,They (sic) are the worst 123456789…… #STABajew,” and “One of the worst creation, 123456789…… #STABaJEW.”

Other ISIS supporters have posted statements claiming that ISIS will soon conquer Israel. Another prominent ISIS supporter on Twitter re-tweeted a newspaper headline, “The Islamist extremism plaguing the Middle East has arrived” with the caption, “We told you we were coming.” Another ISIS supporter posted a graphic depicting ISIS fighters in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem with the hashtag #Qaribanqariba, which is associated with ISIS attacks. Posts threatening ISIS attacks against

A tweet by an ISIS supporter suggesting that the terror group will conquer Jerusalem

A tweet by an ISIS supporter threatening that the terror group will conquer Jerusalem

Israel were also common during the violence in Israel last fall, when they were distributed by ISIS supporters as well as by official ISIS propaganda outlets.

A third genre of posts by ISIS supporters attempts to widen the conflict, making it clear that they believe it is not a localized issue but rather a global battle between Muslims and Jews. This type of sentiment is common in Islamic extremist ideology, which often attempts to portray local issues as part of a larger conflict between Islam and the West. One user, for example, wrote, “Do you want to liberate Qudus (Jerusalem)? You have to kill All Jews in the World.” Another wrote, “#Jews who kill #MuslimsThey amuse themselvesBy continuing to abuseAnd accuse of killingAnd refuse to stop this#ISIS #Israel #poem,” and, most blatantly, yet another wrote, “So see it’s not Israeli on Palestinian thing. This is a yahoodi (Jewish) verses (sic) Muslim thing. Islam vs. Judaism.”

ISIS actively promoted the above sentiments as recently as last month, when ISIS propaganda magazines in French and English both featured cover stories about Jews. ISIS has previously released videos threatening to conquer Israel as well as other propaganda statements that threatened both Israel and Jews. Additional examples may be found in the ADL’s recent report, Anti-Semitism: A Pillar of Islamic Extremist Ideology.

The online activity is broadly reminiscent of social media posts last November, when calls for and glorification of stabbing attacks against Israelis proliferated on Facebook, Twitter and other sites after a terrorist stabbed worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue.

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October 7, 2015

Alibaba Takes Stand Against Materials Promoting Hitler

AlibabaEarlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League notified Alibaba,the largest online sales service company, about Hitler masks and other Hitler titled items available through their service.

Subsequently, Alibaba removed the products and suspended the vendor in compliance with their policy stipulating that “generally prohibits materials promoting Nazism.”

They also indicated that they rely on the help of customers and groups like ADL to identify listings that go against their policies and, as a result, have included a new “Report Suspicious Activity” link on every listing.

ADL appreciates Alibaba’s responsiveness to this issue and has invited the company join ADL’s Best Practices and Cyber-Safety Action Guide initiatives.

Alibaba, based in China, has been in operation since 1998 and is one of the largest online marketplaces with daily transactions in excess of $30 million.

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August 12, 2015

From Charleston to Chattanooga: The Face of Terror in America

By Oren Segal and Mark Pitcavage
Directors of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism

Terrorism is sometimes referred to as the “faceless enemy,” but it has hardly been faceless in the United States this summer.  Too many people have emerged from the shadows to inflict death and suffering.

The parade of violence has seemed unending, from Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who attacked police officers providing security for the so-called “Muhammad Art Exhibit” in Texas in May, to John Houser, the Hitler-admiring man obsessed with the moral decay of America who recently opened fire at a Louisiana movie theater showing the movie Trainwreck.

Of the various killers and would-be killers this summer, two stand out.  The first is Dylann Storm Roof, the white supremacist who allegedly confessed to the June massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine African-Americans dead.dylann-storm-roof-gun-confederate-flag-600

The second is Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who in July engaged in a shooting spree targeting a Chattanooga military recruiting center and a nearby naval reserve center.  Abdulazeez, who may have been inspired by radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed five people—all military personnel—before being killed by police.

In many ways, Roof and Abdulazeez personify America’s terrorist threat; they are the faces of the “faceless enemy.”  Most obviously, each represents a major source of terrorism.  Roof was a white supremacist who allegedly hoped to start a “race war” in which whites would prevail.  White supremacists have for decades been the most prolific source of domestic extremist-related lethal violence.  Along with the other main segment of the extreme right, anti-government militia groups and sovereign citizens, they are responsible for the great majority of extremist-related deaths in the U.S.

Abdulazeez, on whom there is less information regarding motivation, may well have latched onto the ideas of al-Awlaki—including his encouragement of attacks on military targets—as a way to atone for some of his personal demons, including drugs and alcohol.  Domestic Islamic extremists have in recent years attempted or conducted a large number of terrorist plots, conspiracies and acts, despite being fewer in number than right-wing extremists.

Both men also chose targets typical of their movements.  For Abdulazeez, it was the military; here he followed in the footsteps of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who killed a soldier at a recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2009, and Nidal Malik Hassan, who killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, that same year.  Other Islamic extremists have also recently plotted attacks against military targets in the U.S., though without success.mohammad-youssef-abdulazeez

Roof went on a shooting rampage against African-Americans.  Sprees of violence against racial, ethnic, or religious minorities are a common type of white supremacist terrorism.  In recent years, there have been a number of such episodes, including Frazier Glenn Miller’s attacks on Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kansas, in 2014; Wade Michael Page’s rampage at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012, and Keith Luke’s attacks on African immigrants in Brockton, Massachusetts, in 2009.

Both Roof and Abdulazeez used firearms for their attacks, which is also typical of American terrorism.  Although the public usually thinks of terrorism in terms of bombs, terrorists like Ted Kaczynski and the Boston Marathon bombers are rare in America.  The vast majority of extremist-related murders involve guns—easy to acquire, simple to use, and deadly.  This is why Charleston and Chattanooga number among the 10 deadliest extremist-related attacks of the past 50 years.  Indeed, with the exception of the Oklahoma City bombing, the “top 10” attacks all involved firearms.

Abdulazeez and Roof were both young men, disaffected, facing personal stresses of different kinds (Abdulazeez also suffered from mental illness).  Although terrorism knows no age limits—Nidal Hasan was 39 at the time of his Fort Hood rampage, while white supremacist James Von Brunn, who attacked the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009, was in his late 80s—many of the attacks and plots in recent years by both Islamic and right-wing extremists have been committed by men in their mid-20s or younger.

Like Abdulazeez and Roof, a number of these extremists committed their attacks as lone wolves, unattached to any particular group.  Overall, the number of lethal lone wolf attacks in the past two decades has been fairly low, numbering only a few dozen, but in recent years, lone wolves seem to have been emerging at a faster rate.  One reason may be the increasing role played by the Internet in facilitating self-radicalization.  It was through the Internet that Roof educated himself in white supremacy; it was via the Internet that Abdulazeez downloaded recordings of al-Awlaki.

Here one can see a significant difference between right-wing extremists and domestic Islamic radicals.  While they can both easily immerse themselves in a sea of on-line propaganda designed to instill and reinforce extreme views, right-wing extremist Internet sources are primarily based in the United States and, therefore, must watch what they say.  White supremacists who openly use the Internet to encourage violence and terrorism open themselves up to criminal investigation and, if violence occurs, possible civil liability; as a result, their encouragement of violence is often more implicit than explicit.

Domestic Islamic extremists, in contrast, receive most of their radicalizing messages from abroad, from terrorist groups and like-minded supporters who are freer to use the Internet to call for violence and terrorism within the U.S.  Propaganda from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for example, was an inspiration for the Boston Marathon bombing.  In the past two years, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken such tactics to a new level altogether, employing a virtual army of on-line recruiters who use social media platforms to reach and radicalize susceptible individuals across the globe.  Seeking to instill a deep sense of community and purpose, ISIS supporters encourage Americans to come to the Middle East to help it fight its wars—many of the 80+ U.S. residents linked to Islamic extremist activity since 2014 have made such attempts. But ISIS also urges people to launch attacks in the U.S.

Roof and Abdulazeez were both cold-blooded killers.  Their attacks deeply affected the citizens of Charleston and Chattanooga and, indeed, the whole country, though not always in the same ways.  In particular, the Chattanooga shootings, like some similar attacks before them, stirred anti-Muslim sentiments directed at America’s entire Muslim community, a disturbing phenomenon for which there is no parallel with regard to white supremacist attacks.

But their attacks were similar in that they were both essentially futile, able to achieve little but death and misery.  Indeed, the reactions to the attacks illustrate just how ineffective they actually were.  The Chattanooga attack, for example, inspired an outpouring of support for the U.S. military. The Charleston response was even more powerful.  Far from starting a “race war,” Roof’s slaughter not only brought Charlestonians of all races together but also resulted in a bipartisan effort to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol.

American extremists, of whatever stripe, can hurt and even kill, but the one thing they can’t do is win.

Mr. Segal is an authority on Islamic extremism and terrorism in the United States; Dr. Pitcavage is an expert on right-wing extremism and terrorism in the United States.

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