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August 20, 2014

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

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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March 20, 2014

Arrest Demonstrates Influence of Online Terrorist Materials

Nicholas Teausant

A 20-year-old community college student from Acampo, California, was arrested on March 17th for attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), a terrorist group formerly affiliated with Al Qaeda. His alleged activities prior to his arrest demonstrate the dangerous influence of English-language online propaganda that is being distributed by terrorist organizations.

The student, Nicholas Teausant, reportedly accessed a variety of online terrorist propaganda including issues of Inspire magazine, an English-language publication produced by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and its companion “Mujahid Pocketbook,” which contains a compilation of articles designed as a “how-to guide for becoming a lone wolf terrorist.”

Teausant also broadcast his views over social media. In a Facebook post dated March 9, 2014, he asserted “the people you call terrorist aren’t really terrorist (sic) they are just doing what your to (sic) afraid to do, the government fears these people and that’s why they are called terrorist.” He also posted messages about carrying concealed weapons in public.

On the photo-sharing service Instagram, Teausant allegedly wrote, “Don’t get me wrong I despise America and want its down fall…I would love to join Allah’s army.”

According to the criminal complaint, Teausant discussed bombing the Los Angeles subway system and purchasing fireworks and explosives prior to his attempt to join ISIS.

Teausant had enlisted in the U.S. army reserves in 2007 – seemingly prior to his attraction to terrorism – but apparently never completed training because he did not meet the academic requirements.

His arrest came the same day as that of Mohammad Hassan Hamdan, a 22-year-old permanent U.S. resident residing in Dearborn, MI, who was arrested for attempting to travel to Syria to join Hezbollah.

Both arrests highlight the continued threat of Americans traveling to join terrorist groups in Syria as the civil war there continues.

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