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February 2, 2016 1

Law Enforcement: A New Target for Domestic Islamic Extremists

Update: 3/17/2016 — In March 2016, the Cyber Caliphate Army, a pro-ISIS hack­ing group, released so-called “kill lists” with the names, addresses and con­tact infor­ma­tion of law enforce­ment offi­cers in New Jer­sey and Min­nesota. The infor­ma­tion was uploaded to a file shar­ing site and to Telegram.

The orig­i­nal ver­sion of this post was also updated on 2/19/2016.

2015 saw an unprece­dented num­ber of attacks on law enforce­ment offi­cials by U.S. res­i­dents moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­olo­gies and pro­fess­ing alle­giance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). A shoot­ing of a Philadel­phia police offi­cer in Jan­u­ary 2016 indi­cates that the threat against law enforce­ment will con­tinue into the com­ing year.

There have been eight doc­u­mented instances of vio­lence attempted or plot­ted against law enforce­ment by indi­vid­u­als moti­vated at least in part by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy since 2014:

Edward Archer of Pennsylvania shot a police officer

Edward Archer

  • Jan­u­ary 2016: Edward Archer of Penn­syl­va­nia allegedly fired 13 bul­lets at a Philadel­phia police offi­cer Jesse Hart­nett. Hart­nett suf­fered wounds to his arm. Archer claimed that he had acted on behalf of ISIS.
  • July 2015: Harlem Suarez of Florida was arrested for allegedly plot­ting to bomb a Florida beach. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Suarez had also dis­cussed plac­ing bombs out­side the houses and vehi­cles of law enforce­ment offi­cers. Suarez had claimed alle­giance to ISIS and had main­tained a Face­book account on which he posted extrem­ist content.
  • June 2015: Usaama Rahim and David Wright of Mass­a­chu­setts and Nicholas Rovin­ski of Rhode Island allegedly plot­ted to behead Boston-area police offi­cers. Rahim also allegedly drew a knife when approached by a law enforce­ment offi­cer for ques­tion­ing. The three allegedly claimed to be act­ing on behalf of ISIS and expressed some inter­est in trav­el­ing to join ISIS in Syria.
  • June 2015: Munther Omar Saleh of New York drew a knife and attacked a law enforce­ment offi­cer who had been sur­veilling him. Saleh acted together with an unnamed  minor who had been with him at the time. He is sep­a­rately charged with plot­ting a domes­tic attack. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Saleh had expressed sup­port for ISIS and posted ISIS pro­pa­ganda on his Twit­ter account.

    Fareed Mumuni of New York

    Fareed Mumuni

  • June 2015: Fareed Mumuni of New York attacked law enforce­ment offi­cers who had come to his res­i­dence with a knife. Mumuni is also charged with plot­ting a domes­tic attack together with Saleh and other co-conspirators. Mumuni had allegedly expressed sup­port for ISIS.
  • April 2015: Noelle Velentzas and Asia Sid­diqui of New York were arrested for allegedly plot­ting a domes­tic attack. Although the tar­get had not been dis­closed, court doc­u­ments indi­cate that the two had indi­cated they wanted to attack a gov­ern­ment, mil­i­tary or law enforce­ment tar­get. Sid­diqui and Velentzas had a long his­tory of engag­ing with ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda and extrem­ist con­tent and, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, had intended to com­mit their attack on behalf of ISIS.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2015: Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov of New York were charged with mate­r­ial sup­port for ter­ror for allegedly attempt­ing to travel to join ISIS. Court doc­u­ments indi­cated that the two had also dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack that involved killing law enforce­ment offi­cers, tak­ing their weapons, and then mount­ing an attack on the FBI head­quar­ters. The two had expressed sup­port for ISIS online, where they also allegedly indi­cated their intent to act on the group’s behalf.
  • Octo­ber 2014: Zale Thomp­son of New York attacked law enforce­ment offi­cers with a hatchet. Thompson’s motive remains unclear and he demon­strated inter­est in a vari­ety of extrem­ist ide­olo­gies; how­ever, his online record indi­cated he had most recently engaged with Islamic extrem­ist pro­pa­ganda and ide­ol­ogy, includ­ing ISIS-specific pro­pa­ganda, prior to the attack.

In addi­tion, court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Alexan­der Cic­colo, a Mass­a­chu­setts res­i­dent arrested in July, had planned to attack law enforce­ment, mil­i­tary and civil­ians on behalf of ISIS before allegedly decid­ing to attack a uni­ver­sity instead.

The upsurge in attacks against law enforce­ment may be moti­vated in part by pro­pa­ganda by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has called directly for such attacks. A Sep­tem­ber 2014 speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Moham­mad Al Adnani, for exam­ple, stated, “Strike their police, secu­rity and intel­li­gence mem­bers….” ISIS pro­pa­ganda has also called for smaller scale ter­ror­ist attacks than those Al Qaeda adher­ents had been known to plot. A Jan­u­ary 2015 speech by Al Adnani, for exam­ple, called for attacks, “whether with an explo­sive device, a bul­let, a knife, a car, a rock or even a boot or a fist.” The attacks against law enforce­ment have pri­mar­ily been attempted with small arms.

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June 17, 2015 0

White House Hosts Conference on Combating International LGBT Hate Crimes

whitehouse

On June 12, the White House hosted a “Con­ver­sa­tion on Com­bat­ing Bias-Motivated Vio­lence against LGBT Per­sons Around the World.”  Bias-motivated vio­lence against LGBT indi­vid­u­als remains dis­turbingly preva­lent, as doc­u­mented by a May 2015 report by the United Nations High Com­mis­sioner for Human Rights and the FBI’s annual Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Act report.  The prob­lem is com­pounded by incon­sis­tent def­i­n­i­tions of hate crime and inad­e­quate hate crime data col­lec­tion efforts, accord­ing to a 2013 ADL/Human Rights First report on hate crimes in the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­rity and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE) region.

Randy Berry, the State Department’s Spe­cial Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons,announced a num­ber of new Admin­is­tra­tion ini­tia­tives at the con­fer­ence, which fell dur­ing LGBT Pride Month.  He high­lighted exist­ing part­ner­ships and pledged to expand inter­na­tional law enforce­ment train­ing and tech­ni­cal assis­tance, as well as efforts to empower civil soci­ety and LGBT edu­ca­tion and advo­cacy orga­ni­za­tions. The Admin­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to draw on exist­ing exper­tise across the US Gov­ern­ment to enable orga­ni­za­tions and agen­cies abroad to request assis­tance to launch new local and national initiatives.

The White House pro­gram included pan­els focused on the impact of community-based orga­ni­za­tions, the role of law enforce­ment and the judi­ciary, and gov­ern­ment actions and best prac­tices – which was mod­er­ated by ADL Wash­ing­ton Coun­sel Michael Lieber­man.  The meet­ing built on a Decem­ber 2011 Pres­i­den­tial Mem­o­ran­dum on “Inter­na­tional Ini­tia­tives to Advance the Human Rights of Les­bian, Gay, Bisex­ual, and Trans­gen­der Per­sons.” Fed­eral agen­cies – espe­cially USAID, the Jus­tice Depart­ment, and the State Depart­ment – have done a lot of work on the issue.  The State Depart­ment released a report in May 2014 detail­ing its progress on car­ry­ing out the President’s Memorandum.

ADL works to address dis­crim­i­na­tion and vio­lence against LGBT indi­vid­u­als in the United States and abroad, fil­ing ami­cus briefs in Supreme Court cases, con­duct­ing work­shops and train­ing for edu­ca­tors and law enforce­ment offi­cials, and encour­ag­ing the col­lec­tion of hate crime sta­tis­tics that help local and fed­eral law enforce­ment track and address this issue. ADL rep­re­sen­ta­tives also helped craft the sem­i­nal OSCE pub­li­ca­tion, Hate Crime Laws: A Prac­ti­cal Guide, and main­tain rela­tion­ships with many human rights groups to track anti-Semitism, hate crimes, and vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBT per­sons at home and abroad.  ADL Wash­ing­ton Office Direc­tor Stacy Bur­dett, who also attended the con­fer­ence, leads that work.

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August 28, 2014 0

Moving Forward From Ferguson

“His­tory sim­mers beneath the sur­face in more com­mu­ni­ties than just Fer­gu­son,” Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder aptly rec­og­nized dur­ing his visit there. The con­ver­sa­tion about Fer­gu­son can­not start with the death of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man shot to death by a white police offi­cer.  Though tragic in and of itself, the story goes back much further.ferguson-civil-rights

It is a sad tru­ism that America’s laws—and the peo­ple charged with enforc­ing them—have not always pro­tected com­mu­ni­ties of color.  In the infa­mous Dred Scott case, which orig­i­nated just miles from Fer­gu­son, the Supreme Court shame­fully ruled in 1857 that African Amer­i­cans had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”  Though the case served as a cat­a­lyst for the Civil War and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amend­ments rat­i­fied shortly there­after to super­sede the rul­ing, deep-seated racism continued.

Jim Crow laws seg­re­gated soci­ety and rel­e­gated African Amer­i­cans to second-class cit­i­zens. Lynch­ings ter­ror­ized com­mu­ni­ties.  All too often not only did law enforce­ment fail to pro­tect African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, but police offi­cers par­tic­i­pated in the lynch mobs.  Dur­ing the Civil Rights Move­ment, now-infamous images cap­tured police offi­cers using dogs, fire hoses and billy clubs against peace­ful protestors.

Since the Civil Rights Move­ment half a cen­tury ago we have worked hard as a nation to move towards a more just and equal soci­ety. We have come a long way, but Fer­gu­son stands as a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go.

In address­ing the cri­sis in Fer­gu­son, the first step must be open and respect­ful dia­logue.  We can­not move for­ward unless and until we face the past.  Part of that dis­cus­sion must be about the role of law enforce­ment and their rela­tion­ship with the com­mu­ni­ties they have sworn to serve and protect.

Since 1999 the Anti-Defamation League, in part­ner­ship with the United States Holo­caust Museum, has con­ducted train­ings for law enforce­ment—from police chiefs and the head of fed­eral agen­cies to recruits and new FBI agents—exploring what hap­pens when police lose sight of the val­ues they swore to uphold and their role as pro­tec­tors of the  peo­ple they serve. By con­trast­ing the con­duct of police in Nazi Ger­many, and the role that law enforce­ment is expected to play in our democ­racy, the pro­gram under­scores the impor­tance of safe­guard­ing con­sti­tu­tional rights, build­ing trust with the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties they serve, and the tragic con­se­quences when there is a gap between how law enforce­ment behaves and the core val­ues of the profession.

We know from our work that the vast major­ity of offi­cers care deeply about the com­mu­ni­ties they serve.  But that is not to say police are infal­li­ble.  None of us is.  And there are cer­tainly some within law enforce­ment who engage in mis­con­duct, as is the case in every pro­fes­sion.  But the bad acts of some can­not and do not define law enforcement.

Amer­ica is strongest and safest when there is mutual under­stand­ing and trust between law enforce­ment and com­mu­ni­ties.  We must seek to build those bridges by rec­og­niz­ing our trou­ble­some past, acknowl­edg­ing the prob­lems per­sist­ing today, and com­mit­ting to changes that move us for­ward to a more per­fect union.

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