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July 23, 2015

Help Take ISIS Videos Off WordPress

Ansar Khilafah promotes terrorist propaganda on WordPress

Screenshot from the site

The Anti-Defamation League contacted WordPress about a website it hosts that features hundreds of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) propaganda videos, statements and publications.

This particular website includes propaganda released by ISIS and other terror groups in English, French, Turkish, Dutch, Arabic and other languages. Among the hundreds of items on the site are beheading and execution videos, as well as videos and articles encouraging Westerners to travel to join ISIS or to commit attacks on its behalf in their home countries.

Help us urge WordPress to remove this website from its platform. Copy this URL and paste it into the WordPress complaint form. Mark it as “abusive” and tell WordPress that it’s NOT OK to support terrorist content.

The propaganda made available by this website comes from various ISIS media outlets, including Al Hayat Media, Al Furqan Media, Al-I’tisam Media and Ajnad Media. The site also has a section for ISIS’ English-language magazine Dabiq.

Ansar Khilafah blog on WordPress features ISIS propaganda

Screenshot from the site

Online repositories of terrorist propaganda are not new. In February 2015, an ISIS supporter created a website called IS-Tube. Similar to the WordPress site, IS-Tube provided access to an archive of searchable ISIS propaganda videos. IS-Tube was hosted on a Google-owned IP bloc, and Google quickly removed the site after ADL notified the company of its presence. Both IS-Tube and the WordPress site appear to have originated in the Netherlands.

In July 2014, ISIS attempted to move its online presence away from Twitter – where its accounts were regularly shut down – to alternate social media platforms Friendica and Quitter. ADL publicized the move and Friendica and Quitter quickly removed all ISIS presence from their platforms.

If you come across such content on other platforms, the ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide provides resources on flagging content directly with host companies.

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July 13, 2015

Online Activity Provides Insight Into MA Man Arrested For ISIS Plot

Alexander Ciccolo's Facebook profile picture

Alexander Ciccolo’s Facebook profile picture

Alexander Ciccolo, a 23-year-old U.S. citizen from Boston, Massachusetts, is the 55th U.S. resident linked to terrorist plots and other activity in 2015. A closer look at one of Ciccolo’s Facebook profiles, which ADL began monitoring in 2014, sheds light on his views in support of terrorism, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) specifically.

Ciccolo was arrested on July 4, 2015, and charged as a felon in possession of a weapon. According to court documents, he had allegedly planned an attack against a popular bar frequented by university students and a college cafeteria, possibly with the use of pressure cooker bombs modeled after those used in the Boston Marathon bombing. He allegedly planned to broadcast the attack live on the Internet, a testament to the centrality of the Internet in terrorist activity.

According to court documents, Ciccolo had initially considered an attack on civilians, military and law enforcement, for which he also allegedly considered using pressure cooker bombs. As many as 5 other domestic plots in 2015 targeted the military, and as many as 3 other plots targeted law enforcement. At least 2 other domestic plots in 2015 involved attempts at replicating the pressure cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

A series of Facebook posts analyzed by ADL in December 2014 in which Ciccolo posted using the name Ali NoSisters Al Amriki (previously Ali Al Amriki, with the middle name added to indicate that he did not want women to add him as a friend, a further demonstration of his religious extremism) reveal Ciccolo’s apparent embrace of terrorist ideology.

Ciccolo Facebook post ISIS Syria father dream

One of Ciccolo’s Facebook posts

In a post dated December 1, 2014, he described a dream in which he was “running to Sham (Syria), climbing over walls, over fences, through train stations and across the country. It seemed like everyone was trying to stop me from getting to Sham. I eventually stopped running and turned around. There was a man pointing a pistol at me and my father was with him. I kept telling them to let me go, I was trying to reason with them. They wouldn’t listen and continued trying to harm me. I then had to kill this man and my father.” In the same post, he also described a second dream in which he “needed weapons desperately, so I came up with a plan and stole the rifles an (AR15, and a shotgun) out of the trunk of a police car.”

Two days later, Ciccolo posted a paragraph about ISIS capturing weapons supplied by the U.S. and Israel (which he calls the “kuffar alliance,” or apostate alliance) resulting in both countries

Cicollo posted support for ISIS on Facebook

Cicollo posted support for ISIS on Facebook

“working against [themselves]” and “rot[ting] themselves from the inside out. They will suffer severe Hellfire and they will find themselves tortured souls.” One of Ciccolo’s Facebook friends commented on this post saying, “may almighty Allah help isis and in shaa allah rab (God willing) we shall become victorious above the shayatin (devils).”

Other statements further indicated his extremist and conspiratorial beliefs.

  •  “I only hope that I can serve Him the best I can and die a good death” (possibly referring to dying as a terrorist; posted December 1, 2014)
  • “If one does not learn to subjugate the other, one quickly finds the boot of the latter on his throat,” (December 16, 2014)
  •  “It is totally impossible to free associate with kuffar (apostates) if you are a practicing Muslim.” (December 23, 2014)
  • “The kuffar (apostates) contaminated all the food. Can someone please send me a complete halal food list for the United States?” (December 26, 2014)

According to court documents, Ciccolo also praised the June 2015 attack on a beach and hotel in Tunisia, calling it “awesome” and “a huge accomplishment.” Court documents also indicate that, earlier in the year, he posted a statement on Facebook that read, “Thank you Islamic State! Now we won’t have to deal with these kafir back in America” (with an image of a dead U.S. soldier; posted October 17, 2014)

Cicollo posted on Facebook about seeing Adolf Hitler

Cicollo posted on Facebook about seeing Adolf Hitler

Some of Ciccolo’s ideas may have also been fueled by anti-Semitic sentiments.On December 22, Ciccolo described a dream he claimed to have had in which he was “dressed in an SS uniform” inspecting children in a school and then he “saw Hitler and his face was so bright and beautiful.”

Ciccolo is one of at least 15 converts to Islam linked to terrorism in the U.S. this year. And he is far from having grown up with extremist ideologies: His father is a captain in the Boston police and reportedly informed counter-terrorism investigators of his son’s increasing radicalization.

He is the fourth man linked to terror plots in New England in 2015. Ciccolo’s alleged plot makes the 13th known domestic plot apparently inspired by Islamic extremist ideology this year.

News reports indicate that Ciccolo may suffer from mental illness.

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June 10, 2015

ADL Submits Testimony to House Committee on Homeland Security

The House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on June 3, 2015, on the increasing efforts by extremists, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to use sophisticated social media and other Internet platforms to recruit members, share propaganda and inspire attacks.Terrorism Gone Viral The Attack in Garland, Texas and Beyond

ADL, which tracks how terrorist groups exploit new technology, works closely with the Internet industry and trains law enforcement around the country, submitted comprehensive testimony for the hearing record highlighting the extensive efforts of terrorists to harness new technology for recruitment and radicalization.

The League’s statement included details on the unprecedented number of individuals living in the United States linked to plots, conspiracies, and other activity on behalf of foreign terrorist groups thus far in 2015.

The hearing, titled “Terrorism Gone Viral The Attack in Garland, Texas and Beyond,” focused on the attempted violent attack at a Garland, Texas, community center last month. One of the apparent shooters, Elton Simp­son, main­tained an active pres­ence on Twit­ter, with at least eight accounts that he used to net­work with ISIS sup­port­ers prior to the attack. Simpson is believed to have interacted with Mohamed Abdul­lahi Has­san, a per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­dent that may have inspired as many as 11 peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. to take action in the last two years.

Led by Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Members heard from three subject matter experts: John Mulligan, Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Francis X. Taylor, Under Secretary in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis and Michael B. Steinbach,  Assistant Director of the FBI, on these issues.

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