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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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August 21, 2014

Anti-Zionist Group Targets Jewish Institutions

Over the past two weeks, demonstrators from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the largest Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States, have entered Jewish institution buildings to directly confront the leaders of major American Jewish organizations over their support for Operation Protective Edge.

On four separate occasions, members of JVP made their way into buildings belonging to Jewish institutions and began to protest inside. Their goal in getting inside the buildings was to hand deliver an open letter calling the institutional Jewish community’s support for Operation Protective Edge “painful” and “a betrayal of our [Jewish] history and values.”

1. New York City (August 20) – Members of JVP’s New York City chapter entered the UJA-Federation offices in Manhattan. One of the protesters, who live-tweeted from the demonstration, wrote “Occupying UJA federation office in NYC now.” The protesters eventually moved their demonstration to the sidewalk outside of the building.

2. Denver (August 19) – The Front Range JVP chapter led a group of protesters into the JEWISHcolorado building in Denver. Inside the building, protesters attempted to deliver their petition to JEWISHcolorado’s President and CEO Doug Seserman. After their request was denied, they moved the demonstration to the building’s lobby and then eventually outside of the building after 911 was reportedly called.

3. Durham (August 12) – A small group of protesters from JVP’s North Carolina chapter interrupted the “Community Gathering in Support of Israel and Peace,” which was sponsored by the Jewish Federations of Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill. While a speaker was delivering a presentation, members of the group interrupted his speech, unfolded a large banner and began to make demands from institutional Jewish leadership about their stance on Operation Protective Edge.

jvp-jewish-federation-philadelphia

JVP members at the Philadelphia Jewish Federation building

4. Philadelphia (August 8) – Protesters from JVP’s Philadelphia chapter made their way into the Jewish Federation offices in Philadelphia. After gaining entrance, they demanded to meet with the Federation’s CEO Naomi Adler. After being told that they would not receive an appointment, a small portion of the group refused to leave the building and continued to protest inside, reportedly leading to their arrest.

Six other protests have also taken place outside of Jewish institutions over the past month, although various groups such as Al-Awda and the newly-founded If Not Now, When?, have organized those. No attempts were made to enter the Jewish institutions in those cases, but like JVP, the protesters called on the Jewish community to condemn Operation Protective Edge.

At least 25 other protests have taken place outside of buildings affiliated with Israel or Israeli companies. At one of those demonstrations, members of JVP and Jews Say No! made their way into the offices of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF). Once inside, the demonstrators began to protest and conducted a “die-in.” Nine protestors were reportedly arrested.

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July 10, 2014

Anti-Israel Protests Call For “Death to Israel” & “Resistance”

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A sign at a rally in New York on July 9, 2014

Several dozen protests and demonstrations expressing opposition to Israel’s military operations against Hamas in Gaza are taking place in cities across the United States this week.

While organizers sometimes promote their protests as a demonstration against “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians” – as The New York Times even did yesterday when it highlighted a planned demonstration that took place in New York in its “New York Today” column – more often than not, these protests devolve into outright hate fests against Israel, rife with calls of support for violence, comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany and claims that Israel wantonly murders Palestinian children.

Following an escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza and Israel’s commencement of “Operation Protective Edge,” initiated in order to reduce the threat of attacks against Israeli civilians, more than a dozen rallies have taken place in American cities. Below is a sampling of what occurred at some of these rallies:

July 9, 2014

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More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli Consulate bearing signs comparing Israel to the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany, as well as signs legitimizing violent resistance against Israel. At various points during the rally, protesters in the crowd led chants of “Death to Israel” and “Khaibar, Khaibar ya Yahud, jaysh Muhammad sawfa ya’ud,” which translates to “Oh Khaiber, Khaiber, oh you Jews, the army of Muhammad shall return.” The anti-Semitic slogan evokes an Islamic story of an alleged battle between the prophet Muhammad and the Jews of the town of Khaibar, which resulted in the subjugation of the Jews of Arabia.

Several dozen members of Neturei Karta, a fringe ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist group, were also in attendance, holding placards that called for an end to the Jewish state and “Zionist terrorism.” The spokesperson for the group, Yisroel Dovid Weiss, addressed the crowd in an attempt to absolve Jews from Israel’s alleged crimes, arguing that until the advent of Zionism, Jews and Muslims lived peacefully together. He also led chants of “Zionism No, The State of Israel Must Go.” Another speaker warned the crowd to avoid dialogue with anyone who supports Israel, saying “No for Normalization!” He further praised the fact that Gaza is “fighting back” and led the crowd in chants of “When People are Occupied, Resistance is Justified.”

Chicago, IL

A rally drew several hundred protesters to the Israeli Consulate in Chicago after wChicago July 1hich protesters marched to the Federal Plaza, chanting, “Hey Israel what do you say, how many kids have you killed today?” and “Long Live Intifada. Intifada, Intifada!” Included among the many signs were several that accused Israel of perpetrating a Holocaust: “End the Palestine Holocaust,” “It was Wrong in Auschwitz, it is Wrong in Gaza!” and “Gaza Concentration/Starvation Camp, Designed, Manufactured, Frequently Bombed and Managed By Israel.”

July 8, 2014

Los Angeles, CA

Several hundred protesters gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on Tuesday afternoon to call for an end to Israel’s alleged “collective punishment” of Palestinians. Some of the protesters helAnti-Israel protest LA July 8, 2014d graphic images of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen who was recently killed by Jewish extremists. Protesters condemned the “Bloodthirsty Zionists” and one individual held a sign that depicted a large swastika painted over a Star of David that read, “I believe Yahoo ordered the murder of three Israelites.” Yahoo is a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and refers to the conspiracy theory that Israel orchestrated the murders of three Israeli teenagers in order to launch attacks against Hamas. Another woman wore a t-shirt bearing an image of Anne Frank with a keffiyah wrapped around her neck, an offensive attempt to claim that one of the most famous victims of the Holocaust would have supported the Palestinian agenda.

 July 7, 2014

San Francisco, CA

A protest in San Francisco, which took place a day before “Operation Protective Edge” formally began, featured several hundred protesters who chanted “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free,” “With our soul and our blood we will redeem you, Palestine,” and “Intifada! Intifada! We support the intifada!” One protester was also recorded in a video of the demonstration shouting “There is no f***ing State of Israel.”

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