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July 17, 2015 0

Military Sites And Personnel: A Common Target for Islamic Extremists

The Chattanooga recruiting center attacked by Abdulazeez on July 16, 2015

The recruit­ing cen­ter attacked by Abdu­lazeez on July 16, 2015

The motive behind Moham­mad Yousef Abdulazeez’s attack on two mil­i­tary sites in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee, that killed four Marines yes­ter­day remains unclear. His actions, how­ever, are con­sis­tent with other domes­tic attacks and plots car­ried out by U.S. res­i­dents moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ideologies.

Mil­i­tary sites and per­son­nel are a com­mon tar­get for Islamic extrem­ists in the U.S. and ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda has encour­aged vio­lence against mil­i­tary tar­gets. An Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS) pro­pa­ganda video released April 14, 2015, for exam­ple, fea­tured images of dead and wounded sol­diers with the cap­tions, “muti­lated sol­diers are com­ing back to your home­land close to des­per­a­tion. Eyes are being lost, bod­ies with­out legs, we want your blood….”

Two of the three deadly Islamic extrem­ist attacks in the U.S. since 2009, (the Ft. Hood shoot­ing and the shoot­ing at the Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas army recruit­ing cen­ter) were specif­i­cally directed at mil­i­tary targets.

  • Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad was 23 years old when he killed one sol­dier and injured another dur­ing a drive by shoot­ing at a mil­i­tary recruit­ing office in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas. Muham­mad, a con­vert to Islam, admit­ted shoot­ing the uni­formed sol­diers “because of what they had done to Mus­lims in the past” and said that he “would have killed more sol­diers had they been in the park­ing lot.” He also report­edly admit­ted that he was angry about the killing of Mus­lims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to the Lit­tle Rock shoot­ing, he had thrown a fire­bomb at a rabbi’s house  in Nashville, Ten­nessee, and fired shots at a rabbi’s home in Lit­tle Rock. Loca­tions and indi­vid­u­als that are, or are per­ceived as, Jew­ish or related to Israel are also reg­u­lar tar­gets for Islamic extrem­ist plots. Moham­mad had also attempted to carry out an addi­tional attack on a mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter in Kentucky.
  • Nidal Malik Has­san, was 39 years old when he killed 13 peo­ple at the Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, where he had been work­ing as an army psy­chi­a­trist. Prior to the attack, Has­san had been in con­tact with Anwar Al-Awlaki, the U.S. born English-language pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP), who was killed in a drone strike in 2011. In an inter­view with a Yemeni jour­nal­ist, al-Awlaki claimed that Hasan viewed him as a con­fi­dant and he said that he “blessed the act because it was against a mil­i­tary tar­get. And the sol­diers who were killed were not nor­mal sol­diers, but those who were trained and pre­pared to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.”

There have been numer­ous other plots against mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions and per­son­nel in the years since the Fort Hood and Lit­tle Rock attacks in 2009. The fol­low­ing is a sam­pling of those plots that tar­geted spe­cific mil­i­tary facil­i­ties in the U.S. since 2009:

  • April 10, 2015: John T. Booker, Jr., a 20-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Kansas was arrested and charged with attempt­ing to under­take a sui­cide attack at Ft. Riley mil­i­tary base.
  • March 26, 2015: Hasan Edmonds, a 22-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Illi­nois and Jonas Edmonds, a 29-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Illi­nois, were arrested and charged with attempt­ing to join ISIS. Court doc­u­ments indi­cate the two were also for­mu­lat­ing a plot against the National Guard armory in Juliet where Hasan, a mem­ber of the National Guard, had trained, using Hasan’s uni­form and his knowl­edge of the site.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2015: An Unnamed 16-year-old minor from South Car­olina was arrested for a plot to under­take a shoot­ing at a North Car­olina mil­i­tary insti­tu­tion and then travel to join ISIS. He was charged as a minor in pos­ses­sion of a pis­tol and sen­tenced in March 2015 to five years in juve­nile deten­tion, fol­lowed by counseling.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2, 2015: Abdi­rah­man Sheikh Mohamud, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Ohio, was arrested and charged with join­ing Jab­hat al Nusra. Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Muhamud returned to the U.S. with the inten­tion of com­mit­ting an attack against a Texas mil­i­tary base.
  • Feb­ru­ary 7, 2014: Erwin Anto­nio Rios, a 19-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was arrested in 2013 and charged with pos­ses­sion of a stolen firearm. He is believed to have been plan­ning to mur­der U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel at Ft. Bragg.
  • Sep­tem­ber 29, 2011: Rezwan Matin Fer­daus, a 26-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was arrested for plan­ning to fly explosives-packed model air­planes into the Pen­ta­gon in order to “dis­able their (the Amer­i­can) mil­i­tary center.”
  • July 27, 2011:Naser Jason Abdo, a 21-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was charged in July 2011 with plan­ning to bomb a restau­rant fre­quented by Ft. Hood per­son­nel and then to tar­get the sur­vivors with firearms. Abdo yelled “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009″ while leav­ing his first court appearance.
  • June 23, 2011: Yonathan Melaku, a 23-year-old nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen orig­i­nally from Ethiopia, was arrested after he fired shots at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the Iwo Jima memo­r­ial and the Pentagon.
  • June 23, 2011: Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a 33-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and Walli Majahidh, a 32-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen were arrested for a plot to attack a Mil­i­tary Entrance Pro­cess­ing Site in Seat­tle, Washington.
  • Decem­ber 8, 2010: Anto­nio Mar­tinez, a 21-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and a recent con­vert to Islam, was charged with attempt­ing to det­o­nate what he believed was a car bomb at an army recruit­ing cen­ter in Catonsville, Maryland.
  • Novem­ber 5, 2009: As described above, Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and army psy­chi­a­trist, killed 12 sol­diers and one civil­ian in a shoot­ing at the Fort Hood army base.
  • July 27, 2009: Daniel Patrick Boyd, a 39-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and con­vert to Islam, was arrested together with his sons, Dylan Boyd (22) and Zakariya Boyd (20), and four other North Car­olina res­i­dents — Ziyad Yaghi (21), Moham­mad Omar Aly Has­san (22), Anes Sub­a­sic (33), Hysen Sher­ifi (24) and Jude Kenan Muham­mad (20) — with con­spir­ing to mur­der U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel in con­nec­tion with Boyd’s alleged sur­veil­lance of a Marine Corps base in Quan­tico, Vir­ginia. Boyd had obtained maps of the mil­i­tary base to plan the attack and pos­sessed armor pierc­ing ammu­ni­tion to “attack the Amer­i­cans,” accord­ing to the Depart­ment of Justice.
  • June 1, 2009: As described above, Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and a con­vert to Islam, was arrested fol­low­ing his attack at the Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter that killed one soldier.
  • May 20, 2009: U.S. cit­i­zens James Cromi­tie (44), David Williams (28) and Onta Williams (32) and Hait­ian native Laguerre Payen (23) were arrested for a plot that involved plant­ing what they believed were bombs in cars out­side of the Riverdale Tem­ple and the nearby Riverdale Jew­ish Cen­ter. They also plot­ted to destroy mil­i­tary air­craft at the New York Air National Guard Base located at Stew­art Air­port in New­burgh, New York.

There have also been instances of indi­vid­u­als who dis­cussed attack­ing the mil­i­tary or mil­i­tary per­son­nel more broadly, but did not have spe­cific tar­gets. They include Asia Sid­diqui and Noelle Velentzas, who were arrested in 2015 and allegedly dis­cussed bomb­ing a mil­i­tary or gov­ern­ment tar­get;  Mufid Elfgeeh, who was arrested in 2014 and allegedly intended to shoot mil­i­tary per­son­nel; and Jose Pimentel, who was arrested in 2011 and plot­ted to attack mil­i­tary per­son­nel and other targets.

Oth­ers report­edly con­sid­ered attack­ing mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions but then chose other tar­gets instead. For exam­ple, Alexan­der Cic­colo was arrested in 2015 and allegedly dis­cussed tar­get­ing the mil­i­tary before decid­ing to attack a uni­ver­sity, and Amine El Khal­ifi, who was arrested in 2012 and allegedly dis­cussed tar­get­ing the mil­i­tary before decid­ing to attack the Cap­i­tal building.

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June 25, 2013 0

’93 Landmark Plot Foreshowed Domestic Terror Threat

landmark-plot-omar-abdel-rahman

Omar Abdel Rahman

Yes­ter­day marked the 20th anniver­sary of the arrest of eight fol­low­ers of rad­i­cal Egypt­ian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rah­man for con­spir­ing to carry out a cam­paign of ter­ror­ism against New York City land­marks and officials.

The arrests not only fore­shad­owed efforts to attack New York City in the years since 1993 — most hor­rif­i­cally on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 — but also how ter­ror­ists link their oppo­si­tion to Amer­ica with their hatred of Jews and Israel.

The major land­marks that were tar­geted in the 1993 plot included the United Nations Head­quar­ters, the Lin­coln Tun­nel, the Hol­land Tun­nel, the George Wash­ing­ton Bridge and the FBI office. Notably, the plot­ters also dis­cussed attack­ing New York’s dia­mond dis­trict, an area largely pop­u­lated by Jew­ish busi­ness­men, which, accord­ing to one them, would be like “hit­ting Israel itself.”

The arrest came four months after a car bomb­ing at Tower One of the World Trade Cen­ter in New York City killed six peo­ple and wounded more than 1,000 oth­ers. Ramzi Yousef, the mas­ter­mind behind the attack, first planned to bomb Jew­ish neigh­bor­hoods in Brook­lyn, but set­tled on the World Trade Cen­ter because “the major­ity of peo­ple who work in the World Trade Cen­ter are Jews,” accord­ing to Abdul Rah­man Yasin, a co-conspirator in the attack.

In the 20 years since the foiled land­marks plot and first World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ide­olo­gies remain a core fea­ture in the pro­pa­ganda dis­trib­uted by ter­ror­ist organizations.

For exam­ple, every issue of Al Qaeda’s Inspire mag­a­zine, which has influ­enced numer­ous inter­na­tional and domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Boston Marathon Bombers, has been sat­u­rated with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel nar­ra­tives. The abil­ity for Al Qaeda to dis­sem­i­nate such pro­pa­ganda online and recruit would-be Jihadists around the world was vir­tu­ally unheard on in June 1993.al-qaeda-new-york-threat

But while the com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment has sig­nif­i­cantly changed, efforts to attack New York remain unchanged, as do the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel moti­va­tions. Sev­eral post-9/11 plots and con­spir­a­cies tar­get­ing Jews have taken place around the coun­try and in New York in par­tic­u­lar. For example:

  • In May 2011, Ahmed Fer­hani, a legal res­i­dent from Alge­ria, and Moham­mad Mam­douh, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen of Moroc­can decent, were arrested for plot­ting to attack a syn­a­gogue in New York City in order to advance their rad­i­cal ide­o­log­i­cal goals. Dur­ing his sen­tenc­ing, Fer­hani said, “I repeat­edly discussed…my anger towards Jews based on what I believed and per­ceived to be their mis­treat­ment of Mus­lims through­out the world. I intended to cre­ate chaos and send a mes­sage of intim­i­da­tion and coer­cion to the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion of New York City, warn­ing them to stop mis­treat­ing Mus­lims.” New York Police Com­mis­sioner Ray­mond Kelly said Fer­hani planned to grow out his beard in order to look “more like a Jew” and enter a syn­a­gogue more easily.
  • Zarein Ahmedzay, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen from Afghanistan, admit­ted in fed­eral court that he and two other New York­ers planned to det­o­nate home­made explo­sives on New York City sub­way lines dur­ing the days fol­low­ing the eighth anniver­sary of the Sep­tem­ber 11 ter­ror attacks. While enter­ing his guilty plea, Ahmedzay stated that “the real ene­mies of this coun­try are the ones destroy­ing this coun­try from within” and con­demned “a spe­cial group of Zion­ist Jews” who want to “estab­lish a per­ma­nent shadow gov­ern­ment in the United States of America.”
  • A sim­i­lar plot occurred in 2009, when four men, includ­ing three Amer­i­can Mus­lim con­verts, planned to attack syn­a­gogues in the Bronx and a mil­i­tary base in New­burgh, in response to per­ceived Amer­i­can actions against Mus­lims around the world. The men planted what they believed to be bombs in cars out­side of the Riverdale Tem­ple and the nearby Riverdale Jew­ish Cen­ter.  In a con­ver­sa­tion with an under­cover infor­mant, one of the plot­ters, James Cromi­tie, stated his desire to “destroy” the Jews. “The worst brother in the whole Islamic world is bet­ter than 10 bil­lion Yahudi (Jews),” Cromi­tie stated.  “With no hes­i­ta­tion, I will kill 10 Yahudis.”
  • In 2007, Rus­sell Defre­itas, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen from Guyana, and three other men were arrested for plot­ting to attack New York’s John F. Kennedy Inter­na­tional Air­port. The men planned the attack in part because they wanted to take revenge on the U.S. for its diplo­matic rela­tion­ship with Israel. Defre­itas later report­edly told an infor­mant that Mus­lims “incur the wrath of the world while Jews get a pass,” and that he “wanted to do some­thing to get those bas­tards.” Court doc­u­ments have also alleged that Defre­itas had sug­gested tar­get­ing a nearby Jew­ish school or a pre­dom­i­nately Jew­ish neighborhood.
  • In 2004, Amer­i­can cit­i­zen James Elshafay and Sha­hawar Matin Siraj, a Pak­istani who was in the U.S. ille­gally, plot­ted to bomb New York’s Her­ald Square sub­way sta­tion. In con­ver­sa­tions secretly recorded by an under­cover infor­mant, Elshafay talked about his hatred of “Zion­ists” and his sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tini­ans, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. The men also watched ter­ror­ist videos at the book­store where Siraj worked, and Siraj gave Elshafay books that claimed the Jews were con­spir­ing to take over the world’s economy.

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December 5, 2012 1

New York Synagogue Bomb Plot Suspect Pleads Guilty

Ahmed Fer­hani

Update: On March 15, 2013, Fer­hani was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison. On April 26, Ferhani’s  cocon­spir­a­tor, Moham­mad Mam­douh was sen­tenced to 5 years in prison.

Ahmed Fer­hani, a legal U.S. res­i­dent from Alge­ria, pleaded guilty yes­ter­day to ter­ror­ism charges stem­ming from his role in a plot to attack a New York City syn­a­gogue. The foiled plot was the lat­est is a series of post-9/11 ter­ror plots moti­vated, in part, by hatred of Jews and Israel.

Fer­hani, 27, and his alleged cocon­spir­a­tor Moham­mad Mam­douh, 21, were arrested on May 11, 2011, after attempt­ing to pur­chase weapons, includ­ing guns and a hand grenade, from an under­cover offi­cer dur­ing a sting operation.

Read­ing a pre­pared state­ment in Man­hat­tan Supreme Court yes­ter­day, Fer­hani said, “I repeat­edly discussed…my anger towards Jews based on what I believed and per­ceived to be their mis­treat­ment of Mus­lims through­out the world. I intended to cre­ate chaos and send a mes­sage of intim­i­da­tion and coer­cion to the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion of New York City, warn­ing them to stop mis­treat­ing Muslims.”

As part of his plea deal, Fer­hani pleaded guilty to 10 terror-related and hate crime charges and is sched­uled to be sen­tenced next month.

Dur­ing the under­cover oper­a­tion, Fer­hani allegedly said that Pales­tini­ans are par­tic­u­larly vic­tim­ized and allegedly expressed inter­est in trav­el­ing to Gaza to fight. At the time of the arrest, New York Police Com­mis­sioner Kelly said Fer­hani planned to grow out his beard in order to look “more like a Jew” and enter a syn­a­gogue more easily.

Other ter­ror plots in New York in recent years have been sim­i­larly moti­vated, in part, by hatred of Jews and Israel, including:

Sep­tem­ber 2009: Zarein Ahmedzay, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen from Afghanistan, and two other New York­ers were arrested for plot­ting to det­o­nate home­made explo­sives on New York City sub­way lines dur­ing the days fol­low­ing the eighth anniver­sary of the 9/11 ter­ror attacks. While enter­ing his guilty plea a year later, Ahmedzay stated that “the real ene­mies of this coun­try are the ones destroy­ing this coun­try from within” and con­demned “a spe­cial group of Zion­ist Jews” who want to “estab­lish a per­ma­nent shadow gov­ern­ment in the­United States of America.”

May 2009: Four Mus­lim con­verts, three Amer­i­can and one Hait­ian, were arrested for an alleged plot to attack two syn­a­gogues in the Bronx and to shoot down planes at a mil­i­tary base inNewburgh,New York. James Cromi­tie, the appar­ent leader of the group, and the other three men allegedly began sur­veil­lance of sev­eral syn­a­gogues and a Jew­ish Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in the­Bronx in April 2009. “These were peo­ple who were eager to bring death to Jews,” Assis­tant U.S. Attor­ney Eric Sny­der said at a court hear­ing the day after the arrests. The men were sub­se­quently sen­tenced to 25 years in prison.

Novem­ber 2008: Amer­i­can cit­i­zen Bryant Neal Vinas was arrested for pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion about New York City tran­sit sys­tems to Al Qaeda for poten­tial ter­ror­ist attacks and for fir­ing rock­ets at an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary base in Afghanistan. Vinas, who was angry with the U.S. gov­ern­ment for its sup­port of Israel, was also involved with the Islamic Thinkers Soci­ety, a New York-based anti-Semitic extrem­ist group that calls for the destruc­tion of the state of Israel. He also met with the for­mer leader of Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim, another New York-based anti-Semitic orga­ni­za­tion that jus­ti­fies ter­ror­ist attacks and other forms of vio­lence against non-Muslims. Vinas sub­se­quently pleaded guilty to all three charges against him.

Feb­ru­ary 2007: Rus­sell Defre­itas, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S.citizen from Guyana, and three other men were arrested for plot­ting to attack New York’s John F. Kennedy Inter­na­tional Air­port. The men plot­ted the attack in part because they wanted to take revenge on theU.S. for its diplo­matic rela­tion­ship with­Is­rael. Defre­itas later told an infor­mant that Mus­lims “incur the wrath of the world while Jews get a pass,” and that he “wanted to do some­thing to get those bas­tards,” accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. Defre­itas also sug­gested tar­get­ing a nearby Jew­ish school or a pre­dom­i­nately Jew­ish neigh­bor­hood. Defre­itas was sub­se­quently sen­tenced to life in prison.

August 2004: Amer­i­can cit­i­zen James Elshafay and another man plot­ted to bomb­New York’sHerald Square­sub­way sta­tion. In con­ver­sa­tions secretly recorded by an under­cover infor­mant, Elshafay talked about his hatred of “Zion­ists” and his sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tini­ans, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. The men also watched ter­ror­ist videos and shared books that claimed the Jews were con­spir­ing to take over the world’s econ­omy. Elshafay was sub­se­quently sen­tenced to 30 years in prison.

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