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January 7, 2015

Paris Shooting Amid Increased Calls For Homegrown Attacks

Screenshot of an ISIS video encouraging attacks in France

Screenshot of an ISIS video encouraging attacks in France

The attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left twelve people dead comes at a time when terrorist groups are increasingly encouraging their supporters in the West to carry out attacks in their home countries.

While no one has taken responsibility for the attack thus far and the perpetrators are still at large, online terror supporters have already claimed the attack as a victory for their cause.  Charlie Hebdo has been the focus of terror threats since 2006 for their satirical depictions of Muhammad and of Muslim countries.

While it is still not clear whether this attack was inspired by outside forces, it is notable that some terrorist groups have consistently encouraged followers to orchestrate attacks in their home countries rather than traveling abroad since at least 2010, perhaps most notably with the release of the first issue of Inspire, an English language magazine produced by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Similarly, a 2011 video released by Al Qaeda’s Central organization featured American Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn urging supporters in the U.S. to purchase guns and undertake shooting sprees.

In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Shabaab (the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia), which had previously encouraged their adherents in the West to join them abroad, began advocating individual attacks in the West as equally valuable.

In addition, terrorist groups have been claiming credit for such “freelance terrorism,”  including lone wolf-style attacks. Both ISIS and AQAP, for example, wrote about and to some extent claimed credit for attacks in New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Canada and Australia.

The following is sampling of calls for homegrown attacks in 2014, including those in the U.S. and France:

December 2014: An ISIS video calling for French Muslims to either travel to Iraq and Syria or undertake attacks at home stated, “Operate within France. Terrorize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and horror. There are weapons and cars available and targets ready to be hit. Even poison is available, so poison the water and food of at least one of the enemies of Allah. Kill them and spit in their faces and run over them with your cars.” This video has been recirculated by terror supporters on social media in the aftermath of the January 7 attack.

Image from Inspire 13

Image from Inspire 13

December 2014: The 6th issue of ISIS’s English-language magazine Dabiq praised individual attacks on various Western countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia and France, stating, “There will be others who follow the examples set by Man Haron Monis and Numan Haider in Australia, Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in Canada, Zale Thompson in America, and Bertrand Nzohabonayo in France, and all that the West will be able to do is to anxiously await the next round of slaughter.”

December 2014: The 13th issue of AQAP’s Inspire magazine called for attacks on American, French and British airlines and assassinations of prominent Western financial leaders.  Quotes included, “The Lions of Allah who are all over the globe – some call them lone wolves – should know that they are the West’s worst night­mare,” and, “It’s not nec­es­sary to do what Mohammed Atta (of the 9/11 attack) did, it’s enough to do what Nidal Hasan (the Ft. Hood shooter) did.”

December 2014: An ISIS video featured a Canadian recruit addressing people in Canada who threatened the Canadian people and called upon Canadian Muslims to carry out attacks, stating, “You either pack your bags or you prepare your explosive devices. You either purchase your airline ticket or you sharpen your knife.”

November 2014: An ISIS video titled “What are you waiting for,” released in French with English and Arabic subtitles, called for attacks on France and featured various French members of ISIS calling on their compatriots to attack France or travel to Syria. One specifically stated, “I send a message to my brothers and sisters that live in the land of Kufr (apostasy) – France. If you are unable to come to Sham (Syria) or Iraq… operate within France. Terrorize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and horror. There are weapons and cars available and targets ready to be hit. Even poison is available….”

October 2014: The 4th issue of ISIS’s Dabiq magazine included the text of a speech released in September (see below) that called for attacks on the West. It also included an image of individuals in business suits walking on a sidewalk with the caption “Crusader ‘Civilians.’”

Image from Dabiq 4

Image from Dabiq 4

September 2014: ISIS released a text version of a speech by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the group’s primary spokesman calling for attacks in theWest. Initially released in English, French and Hebrew, this was the first significant instance where ISIS incited home-grown attacks rather than encouraging travel to Iraq and Syria. Excerpts from the speech include: “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….”

August 2014: A special edition AQAP English-language magazine titled “Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Con­science” attempted to harness anti-Israel sentiment to call for attacks against the U.S. and the U.K. The magazine reprinted instructions for building pressure-cooker bombs and car bombs from previous issues of Inspire. Quotes included, “We tell the Muslims in America and Europe: There is a better choice and easier one to give support to your ummah (the Muslim community). That is individual work inside the West such as the operations of Nidal Hassan (the Ft. Hood shooter) and Faisal Shazad (attempted Times Square bomber).”

May 2014: Al Shabaab released a video that called on Muslims living abroad to either join the group in Somalia or undertake “a lone wolf mission” in their home country.

March 2014: The 12th issue of AQAP’s Inspire magazine provided instructions for making car bombs along with a list of potential targets in the U.S., U.K. and France. Statements encouraging attacks on the West include, “Whether the brother has a channel to join the brothers [abroad] or not it is better for him to perform his duty of Jihad in the West. On the battlefield, you are just another soldier, but in the West you are an army on your own.”

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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.

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April 16, 2014

Overland Park Shooting Suspect Admired “Lone Wolf” Killers

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Glenn Miller on Joseph Paul Franklin

Following deadly shootings at Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kansas, on April 13, 2014, Overland Park police soon arrested a suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross (more commonly known as Frazier Glenn Miller or simply Glenn Miller). A new ADL report reveals disturbing new details about his recent activities.

Miller is a long-time white supremacist whose extremist career spans decades.   In recent years, Miller was active on the white supremacist discussion forum Vanguard News Network (VNN), making over 12,000 posts to that site.  He expounded racist and anti-Semitic views on a variety of subjects, but during 2009-2013 Miller repeatedly made posts related to one rather disturbing theme:  support for lone wolf white supremacists who had committed violent acts.

One lone wolf terrorist Miller admired was James Von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist who opened fire at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June 2009, killing a security guard.  Miller also approved of Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who embarked upon a deadly shooting spree at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.  “Many thousands of would-be mud [i.e., non-white] immigrants…will decide not to come [after Page’s attack],” Miller wrote shortly thereafter.  “Is that good or bad for white folks?  See?”

Another white supremacist murderer Miller admired was Keith Luke.  In early 2009, Luke embarked upon a murderous rampage in Brockton, Massachusetts, killing two West African immigrants and shooting and raping a third.  Luke allegedly planned to attack a synagogue that evening, but police caught up to him before he could carry out the final act of his spree.  In early 2010, Miller described Luke as “a super courageous young white man with the guts to act, as opposed to yellow cyber-space [white nationalists] who only type, anonymously.”

When Norwegian extremist Anders Behring Breivik committed bombings and shootings in July 2011 that killed 77 people, mostly children, Miller imagined an American equivalent.  “If some enterprising American fellow went to a youth camp in the Catskills, Camp David, or Martha’s Vineyard,” he wrote on the VNN forum that same month, “and ‘sprayed’ some young’uns belong to our immigrant-loving JOG [Jewish-Occupied Government], I dare say I might not lose a whole lot of sleep…I just might sleep even better than my norm, possibly with a wide grin on my face.”

However, if there was one murderer whom Miller particularly looked up to, it was Joseph Paul Franklin, the white supremacist serial killer and death row inmate who in the 1970s hadcommitted a number of murders and bombings against African-Americans, Jews, and interracialcouples.

In August 2009, Miller proclaimed that Franklin was “one hell of a [white nationalist].”  Millersoon actively urged other white supremacists to support Franklin—whom he dubbed a “martyr”—by writing him, sending him money, and other measures (including bribing guards).  In early 2010, Miller announced on the VNN forum that he had received a letter from Franklin, “this living [white nationalist] legend.”

By September 2013, just months before Franklin’s scheduled execution date, Miller and Franklin had established a relationship, with Franklin making regular phone calls to Miller.   Miller energetically tried to raise money for Franklin and to promote his reputation.  Franklin, he claimed in a September 29 posting to VNN, was “the most courageous American warrior for our race in our lifetime.”  Two days later, Miller called Franklin, “a lone wolf hero.”

Miller even tried to put himself into Franklin’s head when describing some of Franklin’s violent actions:  “This one in one-hundred-million white man, in total self control, cool and confident in himself and his Aryan abilities, does not run away to safety.  No, no, no.  He calmly pulls over, confronts the n—–, and blows his black ass away, and the white assed, n—–loving bitch, too, AFTER relishing, up close and personal, the terror in their eyes.  And then, and only then, he calmly drives away while planning his next hit.”  For a select few, Miller said in a different posting, “it’s what makes life worth living.”

On November 20, following Franklin’s execution, Miller announced his death, then proclaimed that “Joseph Paul Franklin, martyr, is born and will live forever in the hearts and minds of strong, loyal white men, women, and youth.  Hail Joseph Paul Franklin!!!”

Five months later, Frazier Glenn Miller allegedly embarked upon his own killing spree in Overland Park, Kansas.

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