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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.

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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.”

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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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October 28, 2014 3

Al Qaeda’s New English Magazine Harnesses Anti-Semitism

On Octo­ber 19, Al Qaeda Cen­tral (AQC) released its much vaunted English-language mag­a­zine, Resur­gence, which har­nesses anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sen­ti­ment to urge harm against the U.S. and the West.Al Qaeda Resurgence Magazine

Using for­mats sim­i­lar to those of Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s Inspire mag­a­zine, Resur­gence also advo­cates for Al Qaeda as the orga­ni­za­tion faces com­pe­ti­tion from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The magazine’s cover story, “Besiege Them: Prac­ti­cal Steps Towards the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine” draws upon the anti-Semitic canard that Jews con­trol inter­na­tional finance. The arti­cle argues that the best means to defeat Israel is to divest from “inter­na­tional trade and finance” and revert to the barter sys­tem. The arti­cle uses the same strat­egy found in AQAP’s most recent English-language pub­li­ca­tion, Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Con­science, draw­ing read­ers’ atten­tion by claim­ing to be about Israel, but then argu­ing that the best way to defeat Israel is to hurt the U.S. and the West (in this case eco­nom­i­cally), fur­ther­ing Al Qaeda’s pri­mary goals.The use of anti-Semitic themes is com­mon in Al Qaeda and AQAP pub­li­ca­tions and messaging.

Unlike AQAP’s Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zines, Resur­gence does not pro­vide sug­ges­tions for indi­vid­ual attacks in west­ern coun­tries. It does, how­ever, pro­vide a map of U.S. naval and air force bases in the Mid­dle East and sug­gest attacks against them and against West­ern ships trav­el­ing through strate­gi­cally vul­ner­a­ble water channels.

This attack sug­ges­tion appears to sup­port a larger goal of the mag­a­zine: Defend­ing Al Qaeda and its ide­ol­ogy in the face of increas­ing oppo­si­tion from ISIS.  This is evi­dent through­out the mag­a­zine; even the intro­duc­tion states, “Resur­gence is a hum­ble effort to pro­mote a cor­rect under­stand­ing of Jihad and explain its rel­e­vance to con­tem­po­rary issues fac­ing Mus­lims” (empha­sis added).

Resur­gence’s goal of defend­ing AQC is also clear in its pro­fil­ing of Al Qaeda affil­i­ates through­out the world. In one arti­cle on Syria, the mag­a­zine calls on Mus­lims to “par­tic­i­pate in the jihad phys­i­cally” or sup­port it finan­cially and only ref­er­enc­ing ISIS in a call to stop infight­ing between groups.

A fea­tured quote by high-ranking Al Qaeda mem­ber Abu Dujana al Pasha states, “We call for a Caliphate based on jus­tice, mutual con­sul­ta­tion, har­mony and unity; not a ‘Caliphate’ based on oppres­sion, excom­mu­ni­ca­tion of Mus­lims, killing the uphold­ers of Tauheed (monothe­ism), and sow­ing dis­cord in the ranks of the Mujahideen.”

Resur­gence mag­a­zine was released the same day that Tahrek e-Taliban Pak­istan (TTP, or the Pak­istani Tal­iban) released its own English-language mag­a­zine. Titled Reviv­ing the Caliphate, the mag­a­zine high­lights fault­lines between pro and anti-ISIS fac­tions of the TTP. Inter­est­ingly, it incor­po­rates images taken directly from ISIS pro­pa­ganda pub­li­ca­tions and calls for revival of a Caliphate, but does not cite ISIS by name. Reviv­ing the Caliphate also attempts to appeal to West­ern audi­ences by high­light­ing for­eign fight­ers involved in the TTP.

 

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October 8, 2014 0

Chicago Arrest Provides Example Of An American’s Detailed Plan To Join ISIS

The arrest of a Chicago man for allegedly attempt­ing to join Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demon­strates the extent to which Amer­i­cans attempt­ing to join ter­ror groups abroad are able to com­mu­ni­cate with for­eign con­tacts and for­mu­late their travel plans.mohammed-khan-isis

Mohamed Hamzah Khan, 19, was arrested Sun­day at Chicago O’Hare Inter­na­tional Air­port as he attempted to board a flight to Turkey.

While many of the Amer­i­cans arrested for attempt­ing to join ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in the past two years – includ­ing fel­low Chicagoan Abdella Tounisi – have not nec­es­sar­ily had a well-formulated plan, Khan’s case rep­re­sents an exam­ple of an indi­vid­ual whose efforts seem to have been informed, if not directed, by mem­bers of the ter­ror­ist group itself.

In a note­book found in his home, Khan allegedly had drawn maps of the Syria-Turkish bor­der, with arrows show­ing pos­si­ble cross­ings. He also allegedly listed steps to take, includ­ing an itin­er­ary for a trip by bus in Turkey that would get him to that bor­der. His knowl­edge of what to do in order to join ISIS likely came from online sources. Accord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint, he had received phone num­bers for con­tact peo­ple in Syria from an indi­vid­ual he was allegedly in touch with online. Khan had report­edly bought a round-trip ticket to Turkey, pos­si­bly to avert suspicion.

The search of Khan’s home also allegedly uncov­ered an ide­o­log­i­cal affin­ity for ISIS. Police report­edly found a farewell note in which Khan had writ­ten, “We are all wit­ness that the west­ern soci­eties are get­ting more immoral day by day. I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this,” and urg­ing his par­ents to join him in Syria. Accord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed in his case, author­i­ties also found a note­book in his home with a draw­ing of a fighter with an ISIS flag and the words “Come to Jihad” writ­ten in Arabic.

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