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July 13, 2015 0

Online Activity Provides Insight Into MA Man Arrested For ISIS Plot

Alexander Ciccolo's Facebook profile picture

Alexan­der Ciccolo’s Face­book pro­file picture

Alexan­der Cic­colo, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, is the 55th U.S. res­i­dent linked to ter­ror­ist plots and other activ­ity in 2015. A closer look at one of Ciccolo’s Face­book pro­files, which ADL began mon­i­tor­ing in 2014, sheds light on his views in sup­port of ter­ror­ism, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) specifically.

Cic­colo was arrested on July 4, 2015, and charged as a felon in pos­ses­sion of a weapon. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, he had allegedly planned an attack against a pop­u­lar bar fre­quented by uni­ver­sity stu­dents and a col­lege cafe­te­ria, pos­si­bly with the use of pres­sure cooker bombs mod­eled after those used in the Boston Marathon bomb­ing. He allegedly planned to broad­cast the attack live on the Inter­net, a tes­ta­ment to the cen­tral­ity of the Inter­net in ter­ror­ist activity.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Cic­colo had ini­tially con­sid­ered an attack on civil­ians, mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment, for which he also allegedly con­sid­ered using pres­sure cooker bombs. As many as 5 other domes­tic plots in 2015 tar­geted the mil­i­tary, and as many as 3 other plots tar­geted law enforce­ment. At least 2 other domes­tic plots in 2015 involved attempts at repli­cat­ing the pres­sure cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

A series of Face­book posts ana­lyzed by ADL in Decem­ber 2014 in which Cic­colo posted using the name Ali NoSis­ters Al Amriki (pre­vi­ously Ali Al Amriki, with the mid­dle name added to indi­cate that he did not want women to add him as a friend, a fur­ther demon­stra­tion of his reli­gious extrem­ism) reveal Ciccolo’s appar­ent embrace of ter­ror­ist ideology.

Ciccolo Facebook post ISIS Syria father dream

One of Ciccolo’s Face­book posts

In a post dated Decem­ber 1, 2014, he described a dream in which he was “run­ning to Sham (Syria), climb­ing over walls, over fences, through train sta­tions and across the coun­try. It seemed like every­one was try­ing to stop me from get­ting to Sham. I even­tu­ally stopped run­ning and turned around. There was a man point­ing a pis­tol at me and my father was with him. I kept telling them to let me go, I was try­ing to rea­son with them. They wouldn’t lis­ten and con­tin­ued try­ing to harm me. I then had to kill this man and my father.” In the same post, he also described a sec­ond dream in which he “needed weapons des­per­ately, so I came up with a plan and stole the rifles an (AR15, and a shot­gun) out of the trunk of a police car.”

Two days later, Cic­colo posted a para­graph about ISIS cap­tur­ing weapons sup­plied by the U.S. and Israel (which he calls the “kuf­far alliance,” or apos­tate alliance) result­ing in both countries

Cicollo posted support for ISIS on Facebook

Cicollo posted sup­port for ISIS on Facebook

“work­ing against [them­selves]” and “rot[ting] them­selves from the inside out. They will suf­fer severe Hell­fire and they will find them­selves tor­tured souls.” One of Ciccolo’s Face­book friends com­mented on this post say­ing, “may almighty Allah help isis and in shaa allah rab (God will­ing) we shall become vic­to­ri­ous above the shay­atin (devils).”

Other state­ments fur­ther indi­cated his extrem­ist and con­spir­a­to­r­ial beliefs.

  •  “I only hope that I can serve Him the best I can and die a good death” (pos­si­bly refer­ring to dying as a ter­ror­ist; posted Decem­ber 1, 2014)
  • “If one does not learn to sub­ju­gate the other, one quickly finds the boot of the lat­ter on his throat,” (Decem­ber 16, 2014)
  •  “It is totally impos­si­ble to free asso­ciate with kuf­far (apos­tates) if you are a prac­tic­ing Mus­lim.” (Decem­ber 23, 2014)
  • “The kuf­far (apos­tates) con­t­a­m­i­nated all the food. Can some­one please send me a com­plete halal food list for the United States?” (Decem­ber 26, 2014)

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Cic­colo also praised the June 2015 attack on a beach and hotel in Tunisia, call­ing it “awe­some” and “a huge accom­plish­ment.” Court doc­u­ments also indi­cate that, ear­lier in the year, he posted a state­ment on Face­book that read, “Thank you Islamic State! Now we won’t have to deal with these kafir back in Amer­ica” (with an image of a dead U.S. sol­dier; posted Octo­ber 17, 2014)

Cicollo posted on Facebook about seeing Adolf Hitler

Cicollo posted on Face­book about see­ing Adolf Hitler

Some of Ciccolo’s ideas may have also been fueled by anti-Semitic sen­ti­ments.On Decem­ber 22, Cic­colo described a dream he claimed to have had in which he was “dressed in an SS uni­form” inspect­ing chil­dren in a school and then he “saw Hitler and his face was so bright and beautiful.”

Cic­colo is one of at least 15 con­verts to Islam linked to ter­ror­ism in the U.S. this year. And he is far from hav­ing grown up with extrem­ist ide­olo­gies: His father is a cap­tain in the Boston police and report­edly informed counter-terrorism inves­ti­ga­tors of his son’s increas­ing radicalization.

He is the fourth man linked to ter­ror plots in New Eng­land in 2015. Ciccolo’s alleged plot makes the 13th known domes­tic plot appar­ently inspired by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy this year.

News reports indi­cate that Cic­colo may suf­fer from men­tal illness.

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November 20, 2014 1

Anti-Israel Activity Prevalent On Massachusetts Campuses This Year

With recent anti-Israel activ­ity at mul­ti­ple uni­ver­si­ties in Massachusetts,the state has become a hotspot for cam­pus events pro­mot­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns and the use of con­fronta­tional tac­tics to protest pro-Israel events.students-for-justice-in-palestine-2014-national-conference

Nine anti-Israel events have been held in Mass­a­chu­setts so far this aca­d­e­mic year, more than dou­ble the four events that took place last year dur­ing the same time­frame. This aca­d­e­mic year’s events fol­low the nine anti-Israel demon­stra­tions that were held in Mass­a­chu­settsover the sum­mer dur­ing Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge, some of which fea­tured signs with slo­gans like “Not even the Holo­caust gives you the right to do this!” and “Do you think that Israel is a vic­tim? Zion­ism = Nazism.”

In Octo­ber, the fourth annual National Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) Con­fer­ence took place at Tufts University.SJP, a stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion with over 110 chap­ters at Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties, held the con­fer­ence so that stu­dents from around the coun­try could unify for a week­end to learn about SJP’s stance on the con­flict. The con­fer­ence was titled “Beyond Sol­i­dar­ity: Resist­ing Racism and Colo­nial­ism from the U.S. to Pales­tine,” a ref­er­ence to SJP activists’ efforts to con­nect vary­ing strug­gles and move­ments to the Pales­tin­ian cause, and it fea­tured work­shops such as “Noth­ing Nor­mal about It: Coun­ter­ing Nor­mal­iza­tion of Israeli Oppres­sion on Cam­pus,” and “Israeli Apartheid: Real­ity on the Ground after the Pro­tec­tive Edge Mas­sacre and End­ing Geno­cide in Gaza.”

Open Hil­lel, a student-run cam­paign call­ing on Hil­lel Inter­na­tional to alter its “Stan­dards for Part­ner­ship,” held its first con­fer­ence at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, call­ing on Hil­lel Inter­na­tional to allow “free dis­course” on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. Orga­niz­ers claimed that the con­fer­ence would allow cer­tain view­points to be voiced that would be excluded from a Hil­lel build­ing because of Hil­lel International’s “Stan­dards for Part­ner­ship,” which do not allow for speak­ers that dele­git­imize Israel or deny its right to exist. The Open Hil­lel con­fer­ence fea­tured dis­cus­sions such as “Unpack­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions,” and “Anti Nor­mal­iza­tion Work­shop: Open Dis­course in the Con­text of Power Dif­fer­en­tials.”
Both the SJP and Open Hil­lel con­fer­ences focused on top­ics such as BDS cam­paigns and the tac­tic of anti-normalization, which advises stu­dents against dia­logue and rejects any attempt to engage in a debate of the con­flict with pro-Israel students.

Speak­ers at the con­fer­ences rep­re­sented a net­work of groups that have worked to demo­nize and dele­git­imize the Jew­ish State. Those speak­ers included Rebecca Vilkomer­son, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP) who spoke at the Open Hil­lel con­fer­ence; Rashid Kha­lidi, Edward Said Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Arab Stud­ies at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity and an Advi­sory Board mem­ber of the US Cam­paign to End the Israeli Occu­pa­tion who also spoke at the Open Hil­lel con­fer­ence; and Sara Ker­sh­nar, a cofounder of the Inter­na­tional Jew­ish Anti-Zionist Net­work who has made false alle­ga­tions includ­ing that Israel uses “Nazi tac­tics” against Pales­tini­ans, spoke at the SJP conference.

Other recent anti-Israel events in Mass­a­chu­setts orga­nized by stu­dents include:

  • A panel dis­cus­sion about the BDS move­ment took place dur­ing the Har­vard Arab Week­end, which is spon­sored by the Har­vard Arab Alumni Asso­ci­a­tion and sev­eral cor­po­rate spon­sors, includ­ing Bank Audi, Shell, and the Boston Con­sult­ing Group. The BDS dis­cus­sion, which took place to “high­light recent suc­cesses from the BDS move­ment, dis­cuss approach, and exam­ine its tra­jec­tory,” fea­tured Noam Chom­sky, an Amer­i­can scholar who has a his­tory of mak­ing anti-Israel state­ments; Andrew Kadi, a mem­ber of the US Campaign’s Steer­ing Com­mit­tee; and Yousef Munayyer, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Jerusalem Fund; as guest speakers.
  • On Novem­ber 1, at the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT), Omar Bargh­outi, a co-founder of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (PACBI), a group that works to bring about a com­pre­hen­sive eco­nomic, cul­tural and aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Israel,delivered a pre­sen­ta­tion about BDS cam­paigns to stu­dents. In past state­ments, Bargh­outi has used sen­si­tive Holo­caust imagery to con­demn Israel and its sup­port­ers and has alleged that an “Israel lobby” con­trols U.S. pol­icy and sup­presses debate.
  • In late Octo­ber, mem­bers of var­i­ous Boston SJP chap­ters protested a Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) fundraiser out­side of the Westin Boston Water­front Hotel where the event was tak­ing place.  Pro­test­ers led chants and held signs that read, “The IDF is GENOCIDAL,” “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine racism is a crime,” and “Friends don’t let friends com­mit war crimes.”
  • At Smith Col­lege in Northamp­ton, the “Fes­ti­val of Resis­tance” fea­tured an anti-Israel rally out­side of Northamp­ton City Hall that led directly into a day-long teach-in about the BDS move­ment in late September.

In addi­tion to orga­niz­ing such events, anti-Israel stu­dents also oppose pro-Israel pro­gram­ing through con­fronta­tional tac­tics. This past Mon­day, stu­dents from the Tufts Uni­ver­sity Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter, con­ducted a die-in to protest a pre­sen­ta­tion from a pro-Israel speaker. In a more extreme exam­ple of protest­ing against pro-Israel pro­gram­ming on campus,anti-Israel sen­ti­ment crossed the line to anti-Semitism when swastikas were drawn on fly­ers adver­tis­ing a pro-Israel event at North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity.  North­east­ern University’s swift con­dem­na­tion of the inci­dent was clear, timely, unam­bigu­ous, and served as an impor­tant reminder of effec­tive uni­ver­sity responses to acts of hate and intol­er­ance on campus.

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July 29, 2014 5

Some Anti-Semitism In U.S. In Reaction To Israeli Operations In Gaza

As Israel’s response to the lat­est round of rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza con­tin­ues, some Jew­ish indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions in the U.S. have been tar­gets of anti-Semitism related to the cur­rent conflict.anti-semitic-graffiti-synagogue

In Florida this week, two sep­a­rate anti-Semitic hate crimes des­e­crated a syn­a­gogue and a Jew­ish family’s prop­erty. Con­gre­ga­tion Torah V’Emunah, an Ortho­dox syn­a­gogue within close prox­im­ity to other syn­a­gogues, was spray-painted with the word “Hamas” and swastikas on its front entrance. Addi­tion­ally a Jew­ish fam­ily dis­cov­ered that one of their cars was cov­ered from top to bot­tom with eggs while the other had the words “Jew” and “Hamas” smeared in cream cheese on the windows.

In Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia over the week­end, phrases such as “Jews=Killers” and “Jews are Killing Inno­cent Chil­dren” were found near the entrance to a Jew­ish sum­mer camp.

Last week, anti-Semitic leaflets, which threat­ened vio­lence if Israel does not pull out of Gaza, were left on cars in Peter­son Park, a pre­dom­i­nantly Ortho­dox Jew­ish neigh­bor­hood of Chicago.

On July 17, about two dozen anti-Israel pro­test­ers tar­geted the Florida Holo­caust Museum with graphic images of dead Pales­tini­ans and slo­gans charg­ing Israel with genocide.

Ear­lier this month, the Chabad of South­ern Nevada in Las Vegas was spray-painted with graf­fiti that read “Fre Pales­tine” [sic] and “Free Gaza.”

Sim­i­larly, in Mass­a­chu­setts, the Mon­te­fiore Ortho­dox Syn­a­gogue in Low­ell was van­dal­ized with the words “Free Pales­tine” and “God Bless Gaza” spray painted in red on its white mar­ble walls.

Amer­i­can Jew­ish insti­tu­tions have also been tar­geted online. The Moroc­can Islamic Union-mail hacker group van­dal­ized the web­site of Con­gre­ga­tion Beth Am Israel in Penn Val­ley, Penn­syl­va­nia ear­lier this month with the phrase “end Israeli vio­lence in #Gaza” and an image of Moham­mad Abu Khdeir, a Pales­tin­ian who was killed in Jerusalem by what appears to be a group of Jew­ish extremists.

Addi­tion­ally, the pop­u­lar­ity of some dis­turb­ing Hitler-related hash­tags on Twit­ter has grown in reac­tion to Israel’s “Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge,” such as #Hitler­Was­Right and #HitlerDidNothingWrong.

Such anti-Semitism is also evi­dent at many of the anti-Israel demon­stra­tions held in cities through­out the U.S., as well as in Europe, where the State of Israel is often demo­nized with Holo­caust imagery or other anti-Semitic expressions.

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