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June 24, 2016 2

Law Enforcement: Standing in the Line of Fire

The recent attack on the les­bian, gay, bisex­ual and trans­gen­der (LGBT) com­mu­nity in Orlando that left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded is yet another exam­ple of law enforce­ment stand­ing in the line of fire in the fight against domes­tic extremism.

From 2009 to the present, at least 64 mem­bers of law enforce­ment have been shot by domes­tic extremists–including anti-government extrem­ists, white suprema­cists, domes­tic Mus­lim extrem­ists and oth­ers. Eigh­teen of those shoot­ings were fatal. Addi­tional offi­cers might have lost their lives had they not been wear­ing pro­tec­tive vests or, as in the case of the Orlando attack, a Kevlar helmet.

Since Jan­u­ary 2009, ADL has tracked 68 sep­a­rate inci­dents (includ­ing seven so far this year) in which shots have been fired between domes­tic extrem­ists and law enforce­ment in the United States. These inci­dents include sit­u­a­tions in which shots were exchanged between police and extrem­ists (shootouts), sit­u­a­tions in which extrem­ists have fired at police but police sub­dued the extrem­ists with­out hav­ing to return fire, and sit­u­a­tions in which offi­cers had to use their firearms to pro­tect them­selves against extremists.

The moti­va­tions that led the extrem­ists to vio­lence dur­ing these encoun­ters vary. Many were sim­ply try­ing to escape after police offi­cers caught them engaged in crim­i­nal behav­ior unre­lated to their extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy. For oth­ers the encounter with police became the cat­a­lyst for vio­lent ide­o­log­i­cal action. In some cases, vio­lence esca­lated to a “last stand” sit­u­a­tion in which the extremist(s) had to have known their actions would likely result in their own deaths. The most dis­turb­ing inci­dents, how­ever, are those (like the Orlando attack) in which the encounter occurred as police responded to and con­fronted extrem­ists who were in the midst of a directed and planned attack. TW-TargetsofAttacks

Fif­teen (22%) of the 68 extrem­ist encoun­ters with law enforce­ment were the result of direct attacks by the extrem­ists. In other words, these encoun­ters started purely due to the extremist’s ide­ol­ogy. In six of those cases, the extremist(s) con­ducted planned attacks on civilians–including the LGBT com­mu­nity in Florida, a Sikh tem­ple in Wis­con­sin, a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in Col­orado, and employ­ees of the Trans­porta­tion Secu­rity Admin­is­tra­tion at the Los Ange­les air­port. In seven cases, the ini­tial attack was directed at law enforce­ment, and resulted in the assas­si­na­tions of three offi­cers. In Jan­u­ary of this year, an addi­tional offi­cer mirac­u­lously sur­vived an assas­si­na­tion attempt in Philadel­phia. In the remain­ing two cases, extrem­ists attacked mem­bers of the U.S. military.

Since 2009, offi­cers have encoun­tered domes­tic extrem­ists in 28 dif­fer­ent states. Sev­eral states have expe­ri­enced mul­ti­ple inci­dents. Texas law enforce­ment has endured 10 of the 68 encoun­ters (nearly 15%). In four of the Texas cases, the extremist(s) were linked to the Aryan Broth­er­hood of Texas or the Aryan Cir­cle, demon­strat­ing the state’s par­tic­u­lar prob­lem with large white suprema­cist prison gangs. In fact, mem­bers of racist prison gangs were involved in three of the seven shoot­ing inci­dents which have already occurred this year—including encoun­ters in Texas, Alabama and Colorado.

Florida has with­stood the sec­ond high­est num­ber of inci­dents, reach­ing eight encoun­ters with the addi­tion of the Orlando attack. Col­orado offi­cials have faced five inci­dents, and suf­fered through the loss of Col­orado Springs Offi­cer Gar­rett Swasey. Swasey, the most recent law enforce­ment casu­alty at the hand of domes­tic extrem­ists, died in the line of duty dur­ing a mass shoot­ing by an anti-abortion extrem­ist in Novem­ber 2015 at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic.

Unfor­tu­nately ide­o­log­i­cal extrem­ists con­tinue to add to the dan­gers faced by law enforce­ment. An untold num­ber of lives were saved due to the efforts of the law enforce­ment offi­cers who con­fronted the 76 extrem­ists involved in these 68 inci­dents. These offi­cers put them­selves into dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions in order to pro­tect and serve the com­mu­ni­ties in which they live.

 

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June 7, 2016 5

Attacks Against Police Are Not Hate Crimes

The Anti-Defamation League and many other groups have deep con­cerns about a new Louisiana statute – the so-called “Blue Lives Mat­ter” law – that inserts police and fire­fight­ers into the state’s hate crime law.    ADL is proud of the spe­cial con­nec­tions and joint ini­tia­tives we have with the law enforce­ment com­mu­nity.  As the non-governmental agency that works most closely with and trains more state and local police and fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials than any­one else, we strongly sup­port laws that deter attacks against police.  In Louisiana – and nearly every other state – an assault against a police offi­cer is already a seri­ous crime, car­ry­ing a more severe penalty than an assault against a civil­ian.  There­fore, Louisiana’s new “Blue Lives Mat­ter” law is unnec­es­sary, and could even make it more dif­fi­cult to pros­e­cute attacks against police.

Police groupHate crimes tar­get indi­vid­u­als or insti­tu­tions because of race, reli­gion, national ori­gin, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der, dis­abil­ity, or gen­der iden­tity, focus on per­sonal char­ac­ter­is­tics.  They are designed to intim­i­date the vic­tim and mem­bers of the victim’s com­mu­nity, leav­ing them feel­ing fear­ful, iso­lated, vul­ner­a­ble, and unpro­tected by the law.   These inci­dents can dam­age the fab­ric of our soci­ety and frag­ment communities.

Crimes against police also, obvi­ously, have a seri­ous and deeply harm­ful com­mu­nity impact.   But adding police – or any other cat­e­gory based on voca­tion or employ­ment – con­fuses the pur­pose of hate crime laws, and threat­ens to make crimes against police more dif­fi­cult to prove.  If police are included in hate crime laws, pros­e­cu­tors would face the addi­tional require­ment of hav­ing to prove both that the per­pe­tra­tor attacked the offi­cer – and that the act was com­mit­ted because he/she was a police offi­cer.  That addi­tional intent require­ment, which is not included in exist­ing laws cov­er­ing attacks on police offi­cers, would make pros­e­cu­tions more dif­fi­cult, not easier.

While there is wide­spread doc­u­men­ta­tion that hate crimes based on per­sonal char­ac­ter­is­tics are down­played and under­re­ported, there is no evi­dence that pros­e­cu­tors any­where in the coun­try are fail­ing to vig­or­ously inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute crimes against police.  To fur­ther high­light their seri­ous treat­ment, the FBI spe­cially tracks and pre­pares an annual report on these crimes,

Louisiana should recon­sider, and its statute should not be repli­cated by other states.

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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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