Islamic State » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘Islamic State’
October 27, 2014

New Spate of Lone Wolf Attacks Highlights Terrorist Propaganda

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

A recent series of attacks in the U.S. and Canada have renewed national conversation about the danger of lone wolf terrorism: Attacks undertaken by individuals acting entirely on their own, without belonging to an organized extremist group, terrorist group or cell.

When extremists plan and execute attacks alone, as individuals, there are far fewer opportunities for law enforcement to detect the attacks in advance and they are much more difficult to prevent. Consequently, “lone wolf” actions tend to be more deadly.

There is increasing speculation that the rise of online terrorist propaganda from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other foreign terrorist groups – and its increasing sophistication – may contribute to such attacks.

ISIS, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and other groups have called on Americans, Canadians and other westerners to self-radicalize and commit lone wolf attacks against their home countries.

In September, a speech released by ISIS told supporters, “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…” One of the suggested methods of attack was to “run him [the Westerner] over with your car.”

In August, AQAP issued an English-language magazine, which stated that the U.S. “needs several more attacks inside and outside its territories. This could be done by a Mujahid group or a lone Mujahid,” and provided updated instructions for building pressure cooker bombs and car bombs. Such sentiments have been a feature of AQAP’s English-language propaganda for years.

Moreover, exposure to violent images combined with the incitement of terrorist propaganda may provide the necessary rationale to lead individuals with violent tendencies – and sometimes unstable behavior – over the tipping point towards violence. And in providing that rationale, terrorist propaganda may also direct the violence, leading to a higher likelihood of attacks against law enforcement, authority figures, or other symbolic targets.

Zale Thompson’s alleged attack against NY police officers and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s alleged attack on the Canadian Parliament provide examples of this new type of lone wolf: Individuals with some degree of upset and instability who buy into the framework of terrorist propaganda to the extent that they undertake acts of violence.

Thompson, for example, was rumored to be depressed and suffering from drug abuse. He was angry about what he perceived as oppression of blacks in the U.S. In his embrace of radical Islam, he read and wrote about “holy war” and beheadings, and googled the phrase “jihad against police,” according to law enforcement sources. He also looked up information on the two Canadian attacks before allegedly attempting to kill the police officers.

Less is known about Martin Rouleau-Couture, the man who allegedly ran over two soldiers in Canada last week, but he, too, apparently engaged with extremist propaganda online and praised ISIS on his Facebook page.

Lone wolves aren’t the only ones who respond to online incitement. A majority of the American citizens who attempt to join foreign terrorist groups abroad or to work on their behalf at home have been influenced by it to some extent – apparently including the three teenage girls from Denver who allegedly attempted to join ISIS last week.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

September 24, 2014

ISIS Spokesman Blames Jews For Conflict & Calls For Lone-Wolf Attacks

A speech issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s primary spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani on Sunday calls for attacks against western civilians and soldiers worldwide and blames Jews for the international opposition the terrorist group is facing.isis-obama-jews

Highlighting the role that anti-Semitism continues to play in terrorist propaganda and ideology, in his speech Adnani suggests that Jews are the only reason ISIS is being confronted by U.S. military: “The jews! (sic) The jews! Save the jews! This is the reason they [the U.S.] came.” Adnani also calls President Obama a “mule of the Jews,” a statement that was further popularized by ISIS supporters on Twitter using the hashtag #Obamamulejews.

Adnani similarly claims that Arab countries including Egypt and Syria exist as “guard dogs of the jews (sic)” ensuring Israel’s security against their best interests.

Addressing ISIS supporters worldwide, Adnani calls for lone wolf attacks against civilians: “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…”

He goes on to provide examples of how this may be done:

“If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of his allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him…. If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops.”

Some of these suggestions, including the use of cars for attacks, have previously been featured in Inspire Magazine, an English-language terrorist propaganda magazine produced by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

This call for attacks has already been answered. On Monday, an Algeria-based extremist group aligned with ISIS called Jund al-Khilafah kidnapped a French national, releasing a video warning that France has 24 hours to stop its air attacks or he will be murdered. A portion of the speech was quoted in the video.

The speech was shared via Twitter in three languages: English, French and Hebrew. The English and French languages were likely chosen because the U.S. and France have been the two western countries to undertake airstrikes against ISIS. The Hebrew may reflect ISIS’s views, reinforced by the speech, that Jews and Israel are also primary enemies of the group. It also reinforces allegations in the speech that the U.S. and France are acting on behalf of Jews and Israel. This may be the first ISIS speech that was initially released in Hebrew.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

September 22, 2014

ISIS-Related Arrest In Rochester Underscores Online Radicalization


Mufid Elfgeeh

The online activity of Mufid Elfgeeh, whose arrest for attempting to provide material support for terror, attempting to kill U.S. soldiers, and possession of firearms and silencers was made public this week by the U.S. Department of Justice, underscores the centrality of the Internet in the radicalization and recruitment process.

Elfgeeh utilized multiple online platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the android application WhatsApp to try to raise money for foreign terrorist organizations and to recruit three other individuals to join foreign terrorist organizations. His online activity also inspired him to devise a plot to kill Shi’a Muslims and former American servicemen at home.

Social media enabled Elfgeeh to not only learn about the activities of foreign terrorist organizations through videos, tweets and other online propaganda, but to also connect with apparent supporters of those organizations, in particular the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to court documents, Elfgeeh sought donations for terrorists in Syria through Twitter. Among his alleged tweets were requests that people donate a third of their salary or at least “#Five_thousand_dollars_from_every_household” to support militants in Syria. He also tweeted and retweeted statements of support for various terror groups including, “al-Qa’ida said it loud and clear: we are fighting the American invasion and their hegemony over the earth and the people.”

On Facebook, Elfgeeh was a member of at least two Arabic-language Facebook groups in which group members regularly post and share al Qaeda and ISIS propaganda. His own Facebook photos included several images from Al Battar media, an official ISIS propaganda wing.

Elfgeeh also allegedly used Facebook to communicate with individuals he believed were members of terrorist organizations and with the individuals he was recruiting about plans to travel abroad to join terrorist organizations.

In his recruiting, he initially suggested Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Shabaab as possible destinations, and later focused on ISIS. Notably, AQAP, Al Shabaab and ISIS are all terrorist groups that have become highly adept at distributing extensive English-language propaganda.

On April 22 2014, he allegedly posted a message on Facebook attempting to gain connections in ISIS, stating, “Whoever knows a brother from ISIS who is able to communicate well in English, can communicate with me through the private, due to the importance.” He also communicated directly on Facebook with an individual he was recruiting to join ISIS (the individual was in fact an informant).

Elfgeeh was allegedly developing a plot to commit multiple murders in the U.S. as well, apparently inspired by acts of terrorism around the world including Al Shabaab’s attack of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya and, in particular, by Mohammed Merah’s shootings in France.

His inspiration for this plot apparently came from watching videos on YouTube. He allegedly explained that he had learned about Merah’s actions because, “[i]t’s in YouTube.” He also allegedly had watched a video that provided justification and instructions for his plot: The video, he stated, “tell[s] you what to do …it’s YouTube…they call them here…’individual wolf’ (an apparent reference to lone wolf attacks).”

Elfgeeh is a 30-year-old naturalized American citizen. Originally from Yemen, he resided in Rochester, NY prior to his arrest where he owned and operated a store called Halal Mojo and Foodmart. He was arrested on May 31, 2014 and pleaded not guilty on September 18.

Elfgeeh is the second American arrested in 2014 for recruiting others to join foreign terror organizations, following Rahatul Ashikim Khan of Round Rock, Texas, who was arrested in June.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,