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August 20, 2014 0

Americans Respond To ISIS Recruitment

Update– 8/27/14: Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain of San Diego, died while fight­ing with ISIS in Syria in August 2014.

Even as it fights on a num­ber of fronts in the Mid­dle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al Qaeda-inspired ter­ror­ist group that claims sov­er­eignty in sec­tions of Syria and Iraq, con­tin­ues to recruit west­ern­ers through its sophis­ti­cated online pro­pa­ganda cam­paign.al-hayat-ad-propaganda

Some Amer­i­cans are heed­ing the call.

In 2014, five of the six Amer­i­cans arrested in the U.S. for attempt­ing to join the con­flict in Syria and Iraq were accused of attempt­ing to join ISIS: Don­ald Ray Mor­gan of North Car­olina in August (arrested on weapons charges but believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS); Shan­non Mau­reen Con­ley of Col­orado in July; Adam Dandich of Cal­i­for­nia in July (charged with pass­port fraud but believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS); Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas in June; and Nicholas Teau­sant of Cal­i­for­nia in March. The sixth, Mohammed Has­san Ham­dan of Michi­gan, allegedly attempted to fight in Syria with Hezbol­lah.

Fur­ther­more, In June the FBI said it launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into 15 Somali Amer­i­cans from Min­nesota believed to have joined ISIS.

At least two other Amer­i­cans have appeared in videos released by ISIS and Jab­hat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Syria.A video released in August 2014 fea­tured an alleged Amer­i­can national called Abu Abdu­rah­man al-Trinidadi encour­ag­ing oth­ers to join ISIS. And in May, Moner Abu Salha of Florida was iden­ti­fied in a Jab­hat al-Nusra video as hav­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in a sui­cide attack.

U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials esti­mate that over 100 Amer­i­can nation­als have trav­elled to join the con­flict in Syria, a con­flict that has since spread to Iraq.

The effect of ISIS’ increased strength and noto­ri­ety, as well as its advanced online recruit­ment strate­gies, appear to be hav­ing an effect. Of the seven known Amer­i­cans who either trav­eled to or attempted to travel to Syria to fight with mil­i­tants last year, only one was believed to have fought with ISIS; a video released online in Novem­ber 2013 fea­tured an appar­ent Amer­i­can called Abu Dujana al-Amriki, prais­ing ISIS.

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June 20, 2014 3

Texas Terror Arrests Highlight Ongoing Travel Threat

texas-terror-michael-todd-wolfe-rahatul-ashikim-khan

Rahatul Ashikim Khan & Michael Todd Wolfe

The arrests of two 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zens in Texas in sep­a­rate inci­dents on Tues­day for allegedly plan­ning to join ter­ror­ist groups over­seas under­scores the ongo­ing con­cerns over Amer­i­cans join­ing ter­ror­ist groups abroad and the con­tin­ued allure of Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Dozens of Amer­i­cans and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been charged in recent years in con­nec­tion with attempts to jointer­ror­ist groups abroad, includ­ing Al Shabaab in Soma­lia and Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula in Yemen, as well as ter­ror­ists groups in Syria.

Michael Todd Wolfe of Austin, Texas, is alleged to have attempted to travel to join a ter­ror­ist group fight­ing in Syria. The crim­i­nal com­plaint filed against him indi­cates that he was ini­tially inter­ested in join­ing Jab­hat al Nusra, an Al Qaeda affil­i­ate, but later decided instead to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which broke with Al Qaeda ear­lier this year.

Wolfe, a con­vert to Islam who grew up in Texas, was arrested at George H.W. Bush Hous­ton Inter­con­ti­nen­tal Air­port just before he attempted to board a flight to Europe, en route to Syria.

Author­i­ties say the sec­ond indi­vid­ual, Rahatul Ashikim Khan of Round Rock, Texas, con­spired with oth­ers to recruit peo­ple who would “travel over­seas to sup­port ter­ror­ist activ­i­ties includ­ing com­mit­ting vio­lent jihad,” in par­tic­u­lar with Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Soma­lia and Kenya. Khan is a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen orig­i­nally from Bangladesh, and is a col­lege stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas, Austin.

Demon­strat­ing the cen­tral role the Inter­net plays in online rad­i­cal­iza­tion and recruit­ment, both Wolfe and Khan had used the Inter­net to abet their activ­i­ties. Wolfe allegedly watched videos online of ter­ror­ism in Syria. Khan called him­self a “jihadi” and used an online chat room to iden­tify poten­tial ter­ror­ists between March 2011 and Jan­u­ary 2012, accord­ing to court documents.

Khan allegedly spent time on a chat room ded­i­cated to Abdul­lah al-Faisal, a Jamaica-born Mus­lim preacher who served four years in a British prison for urg­ing his fol­low­ers to kill non-Muslims, includ­ing Amer­i­cans, Hin­dus and Jews. Al-Faisel was also the “imam and spir­i­tual advi­sor” of Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim (RM), a New York-based fringe anti-Semitic Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tion that jus­ti­fied ter­ror­ist attacks and other forms of vio­lence for many years.

Amer­i­cans trav­el­ing abroad to join ter­ror­ist groups have been a con­sis­tent threat since 2001, with three dis­tinct waves of travel appar­ent. Between 2001 and 2005, Amer­i­cans trav­elled mostly to join Al Qaeda Cen­tral and the Tal­iban. Between 2007 and 2011, travel and sup­port were espe­cially directed at Al Shabaab. Travel to Syria – the great­est threat since 2011 – has been the third wave; since the start of the Syr­ian civil war, as many as 100 U.S. cit­i­zens are believed to have trav­elled to Syria to join the fighting.

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