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January 7, 2015 0

Paris Shooting Amid Increased Calls For Homegrown Attacks

Screenshot of an ISIS video encouraging attacks in France

Screen­shot of an ISIS video encour­ag­ing attacks in France

The attack on the French satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo that left twelve peo­ple dead comes at a time when ter­ror­ist groups are increas­ingly encour­ag­ing their sup­port­ers in the West to carry out attacks in their home countries.

While no one has taken respon­si­bil­ity for the attack thus far and the per­pe­tra­tors are still at large, online ter­ror sup­port­ers have already claimed the attack as a vic­tory for their cause.  Char­lie Hebdo has been the focus of ter­ror threats since 2006 for their satir­i­cal depic­tions of Muham­mad and of Mus­lim countries.

While it is still not clear whether this attack was inspired by out­side forces, it is notable that some ter­ror­ist groups have con­sis­tently encour­aged fol­low­ers to orches­trate attacks in their home coun­tries rather than trav­el­ing abroad since at least 2010, per­haps most notably with the release of the first issue of Inspire, an Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine pro­duced by Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP).

Sim­i­larly, a 2011 video released by Al Qaeda’s Cen­tral orga­ni­za­tion fea­tured Amer­i­can Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn urg­ing sup­port­ers in the U.S. to pur­chase guns and under­take shoot­ing sprees.

In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Shabaab (the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Soma­lia), which had pre­vi­ously encour­aged their adher­ents in the West to join them abroad, began advo­cat­ing indi­vid­ual attacks in the West as equally valuable.

In addi­tion, ter­ror­ist groups have been claim­ing credit for such “free­lance ter­ror­ism,”  includ­ing lone wolf-style attacks. Both ISIS and AQAP, for exam­ple, wrote about and to some extent claimed credit for attacks in New York, New Jer­sey, Okla­homa, Canada and Aus­tralia.

The fol­low­ing is sam­pling of calls for home­grown attacks in 2014, includ­ing those in the U.S. and France:

Decem­ber 2014: An ISIS video call­ing for French Mus­lims to either travel to Iraq and Syria or under­take attacks at home stated, “Oper­ate within France. Ter­ror­ize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and hor­ror. There are weapons and cars avail­able and tar­gets ready to be hit. Even poi­son is avail­able, so poi­son the water and food of at least one of the ene­mies of Allah. Kill them and spit in their faces and run over them with your cars.” This video has been recir­cu­lated by ter­ror sup­port­ers on social media in the after­math of the Jan­u­ary 7 attack.

Image from Inspire 13

Image from Inspire 13

Decem­ber 2014: The 6th issue of ISIS’s English-language mag­a­zine Dabiq praised indi­vid­ual attacks on var­i­ous West­ern coun­tries includ­ing the U.S., Canada, Aus­tralia and France, stat­ing, “There will be oth­ers who fol­low the exam­ples set by Man Haron Monis and Numan Haider in Aus­tralia, Mar­tin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in Canada, Zale Thomp­son in Amer­ica, and Bertrand Nzo­hab­onayo in France, and all that the West will be able to do is to anx­iously await the next round of slaughter.”

Decem­ber 2014: The 13th issue of AQAP’s Inspire mag­a­zine called for attacks on Amer­i­can, French and British air­lines and assas­si­na­tions of promi­nent West­ern finan­cial lead­ers.  Quotes included, “The Lions of Allah who are all over the globe – some call them lone wolves – should know that they are the West’s worst night­mare,” and, “It’s not nec­es­sary to do what Mohammed Atta (of the 9/11 attack) did, it’s enough to do what Nidal Hasan (the Ft. Hood shooter) did.”

Decem­ber 2014: An ISIS video fea­tured a Cana­dian recruit address­ing peo­ple in Canada who threat­ened the Cana­dian peo­ple and called upon Cana­dian Mus­lims to carry out attacks, stat­ing, “You either pack your bags or you pre­pare your explo­sive devices. You either pur­chase your air­line ticket or you sharpen your knife.”

Novem­ber 2014: An ISIS video titled “What are you wait­ing for,” released in French with Eng­lish and Ara­bic sub­ti­tles, called for attacks on France and fea­tured var­i­ous French mem­bers of ISIS call­ing on their com­pa­tri­ots to attack France or travel to Syria. One specif­i­cally stated, “I send a mes­sage to my broth­ers and sis­ters that live in the land of Kufr (apos­tasy) – France. If you are unable to come to Sham (Syria) or Iraq… oper­ate within France. Ter­ror­ize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and hor­ror. There are weapons and cars avail­able and tar­gets ready to be hit. Even poi­son is available….”

Octo­ber 2014: The 4th issue of ISIS’s Dabiq mag­a­zine included the text of a speech released in Sep­tem­ber (see below) that called for attacks on the West. It also included an image of indi­vid­u­als in busi­ness suits walk­ing on a side­walk with the cap­tion “Cru­sader ‘Civilians.’”

Image from Dabiq 4

Image from Dabiq 4

Sep­tem­ber 2014: ISIS released a text ver­sion of a speech by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the group’s pri­mary spokesman call­ing for attacks in theWest. Ini­tially released in Eng­lish, French and Hebrew, this was the first sig­nif­i­cant instance where ISIS incited home-grown attacks rather than encour­ag­ing travel to Iraq and Syria. Excerpts from the speech include: “If you can kill a dis­be­liev­ing Amer­i­can or Euro­pean – espe­cially the…French – or an Aus­tralian, or a Canadian…kill him in any man­ner or way how­ever it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s ver­dict. Kill the dis­be­liever whether he is civil­ian or military….”

August 2014: A spe­cial edi­tion AQAP English-language mag­a­zine titled “Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Con­science” attempted to har­ness anti-Israel sen­ti­ment to call for attacks against the U.S. and the U.K. The mag­a­zine reprinted instruc­tions for build­ing pressure-cooker bombs and car bombs from pre­vi­ous issues of Inspire. Quotes included, “We tell the Mus­lims in Amer­ica and Europe: There is a bet­ter choice and eas­ier one to give sup­port to your ummah (the Mus­lim com­mu­nity). That is indi­vid­ual work inside the West such as the oper­a­tions of Nidal Has­san (the Ft. Hood shooter) and Faisal Shazad (attempted Times Square bomber).”

May 2014: Al Shabaab released a video that called on Mus­lims liv­ing abroad to either join the group in Soma­lia or under­take “a lone wolf mis­sion” in their home country.

March 2014: The 12th issue of AQAP’s Inspire mag­a­zine pro­vided instruc­tions for mak­ing car bombs along with a list of poten­tial tar­gets in the U.S., U.K. and France. State­ments encour­ag­ing attacks on the West include, “Whether the brother has a chan­nel to join the broth­ers [abroad] or not it is bet­ter for him to per­form his duty of Jihad in the West. On the bat­tle­field, you are just another sol­dier, but in the West you are an army on your own.”

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November 21, 2014 0

ISIS Supporters Exploit Mixlr To Broadcast Extremism

Ter­ror­ist sym­pa­thiz­ers are exploit­ing the web­site and appli­ca­tion Mixlr to broad­cast and dis­cuss their extrem­ist views online. Their use of Mixlr par­al­lels pre­vi­ous efforts by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its sup­port­ers to find and uti­lize new online plat­forms for spread­ing their pro­pa­ganda.mixlr-isis

Mixlr is a plat­form that enables users to broad­cast live audio “to the world” and to “chat, engage and inter­act with your lis­ten­ers in real time.” Mixlr is avail­able online and for smart­phones. Users can also log in via Face­book and Twitter.

Sup­port­ers of the ISIS have cre­ated at least two pages on Mixlr for broad­cast­ing and dis­cussing pro-ISIS material.

The pri­mary account is called Khi­lafah (Ara­bic for Caliphate). The sta­tion some­times broad­casts mul­ti­ple times per day and has a con­sid­er­able fol­low­ing: The account began broad­cast­ing on Octo­ber 19, 2014, and had gar­nered 44,548 “total lis­tens” as of Novem­ber 20, 2014. Broad­casts cover a vari­ety of ISIS related top­ics includ­ing news updates on ISIS and reports from ISIS sup­port­ers around the world.

The Khi­lafah account has 665 fol­low­ers who reg­u­larly con­verse on the site dur­ing broad­casts. Although much of the chat is mun­dane (requests to fix the sound qual­ity, for exam­ple), some com­ments demon­strate the users’ extrem­ism. A con­ver­sa­tion on Novem­ber 21, for exam­ple, cel­e­brated ISIS’s alleged takeover of the Iraqi city of Ramadi with one com­menter writ­ing, “They are dri­ven to the death…we will feed the faith with the blood of their veins.”

This account also has Pro mem­ber­ship sta­tus on Mixlr, which enables it to broad­cast for an unlim­ited num­ber of hours per week. This is a paid membership.

The sec­ondary pro-ISIS page, AL7AQ, has only 134 fol­low­ers, and is likely designed to replace the Khi­lafah page if it is shut down. That said, there has been some con­ver­sa­tion on the AL7AQ page as well.

The pages have an asso­ci­ated Twit­ter feed that announces upcom­ing broad­casts and archives pre­vi­ous ones and pro­motes videos on YouTube that explain how to access the broad­cast con­tent. As of Novem­ber 20, 2014, the Twit­ter feed had 2,393 fol­low­ers, most of whom are appar­ently ISIS sup­port­ers based on their com­ments and account pictures.

The same broad­casts are also avail­able on Paltalk, a pro­gram that enables video, voice, and group chats. Paltalk has been exploited by extrem­ists in other instances as well. The Authen­tic Tauheed Paltalk chan­nel, for exam­ple, broad­casts extrem­ist and pro-ISIS mes­sages by rad­i­cal cleric Abdul­lah al-Faisal.

In the past, ISIS and its sup­port­ers have attempted to use alter­na­tive social media sites includ­ing Frien­dica, Dias­pora and Quit­ter in order to keep their infor­ma­tion online as their accounts were shut down by Face­book and Twit­ter. Frien­dica, Dias­pora and Quit­ter have removed all pro-ISIS pages from their sites, and Twit­ter and Face­book reg­u­larly delete accounts that pro­mote ISIS messages.

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November 19, 2014 0

Recent Arrest Highlights ISIS Recruitment of Women

The recent arrest of a Vir­ginia woman on charges related to her sup­port for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) high­lights the grow­ing phe­nom­e­non of female mem­bers and sup­port­ers of ISIS – a trend linked to ISIS pro­pa­ganda and recruit­ment efforts aimed directly at women.

ADL doc­u­mented eight female U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents who have been sus­pected of involve­ment with ter­ror­ist groups in 2014 (only four were arrested; the oth­ers were minors).  This is a sharp uptick: ADL doc­u­mented only 12 female U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents arrested on ter­ror charges between 2002 and 2013.

Six of the women believed to have engaged in ter­ror­ist activ­ity 2014 are accused of involve­ment with ISIS. Esti­mates indi­cate that about 10% of the group’s West­ern recruits are female.

Heather Eliz­a­beth Coff­man, the most recent woman arrested in con­nec­tion with her sup­port for ISIS, had allegedly main­tained sev­eral Face­book accounts on which she posted pro-ISIS mes­sages and pro­pa­ganda. Coff­man claimed that she could facil­i­tate travel to join ISIS for poten­tial recruits, offer­ing to con­nect them with ter­ror­ists abroad. She denied these activ­i­ties in an inter­view with law enforce­ment and is charged with lying to fed­eral agents about her involve­ment with ISIS.

ISIS mes­sag­ing to women empha­sizes their poten­tial roles as the wives of fight­ers and moth­ers to the next gen­er­a­tion of extrem­ists. The ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion has even estab­lished media wings aimed at women.

isis-al-zora-foundation

Poster announc­ing the cre­ation of Al Zora Foundation

One such media out­let, Al Zora Foun­da­tion, pub­lishes recipes and first aid sug­ges­tions together with posters of women in burkas declar­ing alle­giance to ISIS. A recipe for dates with mil­let, for exam­ple, is pro­vided as a “fast mild appe­tizer eaten with cof­fee that pro­vides food for the muha­jideen (fighters)…they are high in calo­ries and pro­vide the Mujahideen energy and strength.”

Al Zora has also pro­vided advice to women seek­ing to travel to join ISIS. “How many female Mus­lims are dis­tin­guished from all female Mus­lims where her concern…and her life aspi­ra­tion is the explo­sive belt?” asks one memo, fol­lowed by advice for these women to learn first aid, sewing, and cook­ing, and to par­tic­i­pate in exer­cise and weapons train­ing, as well as extra prayers and sup­pli­ca­tions that they can use to aid the fight­ers and teach other women upon their arrival in Syria. “Imag­ine with me, oh sis­ter,” it states in the sec­tion on sewing, “if a muja­heed, a brother to you in Allah, is mar­tyred and his jihadi clothes that he wore and in which he walked, trained, waged jihad, and afflicted the enemy of Allah, were made by your hands.”

isis-khansa-media

A Khansa media poster announc­ing a new series of posters for female ISIS supporters

Another media out­let, Khansa Media, releases posters and ban­ners with ISIS pro­pa­ganda state­ments set along­side flow­ers and pink back­grounds. It has recently intro­duced a series of posters pro­claim­ing the “virtues of women.” A video announc­ing the relaunch of Khansa media this Sep­tem­ber stated, “We send our mes­sage to [Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter] al-Maliki and his army that we are ready for him, and we will remain as assets and sup­port for our hus­bands and our chil­dren,” fol­lowed by clips depict­ing women train­ing with weapons.

Both Khansa media and Al Zora also reg­u­larly repost and retweet pro­pa­ganda from ISIS’s pri­mary media out­lets. Some­times they also add their logos to the cor­ners of posters prais­ing dead fight­ers and the glo­ries of battle.

Mul­ti­ple female sup­port­ers of ISIS also engage with the group’s con­tent on social media, includ­ing Face­book, Twit­ter, and Ask.FM. These sup­port­ers post typ­i­cal ISIS pro­pa­ganda about fight­ing and behead­ings along­side state­ments about mod­esty and extrem­ist Islam. They empha­size their chil­dren (often their Twit­ter han­dles begin with the word “umm” which means ‘mother of’ fol­lowed by a child’s name) and every­day life, while pro­vid­ing tips to poten­tial recruits and actively encour­ag­ing oth­ers to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the ter­ror­ist group.

Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, nor is it ISIS spe­cific. Two of the women arrested in 2014 who were not involved with ISIS are accused of sup­port­ing Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda affil­i­ate. In pre­vi­ous years, women have been arrested for causes as diverse as attempt­ing to estab­lish a ter­ror cell abroad to send­ing funds and aid to var­i­ous ter­ror groups to attempt­ing to kill U.S. per­son­nel abroad.

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