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April 2, 2015 0

NY Arrests Put Spotlight on Female Islamic Extremists

Update — 4/6/15: Another woman, Keonna Thomas of Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia, was charged on April 3, 2015 with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Two Brook­lyn women arrested today on charges of con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass destruc­tion are the 11th and 12th U.S. women linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism since 2014. Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, but their num­bers have dra­mat­i­cally increased since 2014: ADL has doc­u­mented 12 female U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism in the last 15 months – the same as the total num­ber of women in the 11 years between 2002 and 2013.

A poem by Asia Siddiqui published in the extremist magazine Jihad Recollections

A poem by Asia Sid­diqui in the extrem­ist mag­a­zine Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions

Noelle Velentzas, a 28-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Asia Sid­diqui, a 31-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Brook­lyn, New York and Velentzas’s for­mer room­mate, allegedly researched how to make explo­sive devices and pur­chased the mate­ri­als nec­es­sary to do so. Although court doc­u­ments do not indi­cate that they had cho­sen a tar­get, they expressed a pref­er­ence for attack­ing law enforce­ment and U.S. gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary facilities.

The two made clear that they were moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas praised the 9/11 attacks and repeat­edly stated that her heroes are Osama bin Laden and his men­tor, Abdul­lah Azzam.

More­over, Velentzas and Sid­diqui have an exten­sive his­tory of engag­ing with rad­i­cal extrem­ism online. In 2006, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Sid­diqui “became close with Samir Khan,” who went on to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) and, together with AQAP pro­pa­gan­dist Anwar al-Awlaki, founded Inspire mag­a­zine, the group’s pri­mary English-language mag­a­zine. In 2009, Sid­diqui wrote a poem that was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions, an ear­lier mag­a­zine that Khan produced.

Extrem­ist mag­a­zines includ­ing Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and Inspire have actively encour­aged sub­mis­sions from read­ers in the hope that hav­ing their work pub­lished will lead the read­ers to become fur­ther entrenched in the extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tion. Sid­diqui her­self allegedly expressed sup­port for Mohamed Osman Mohamud, another Amer­i­can who was pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions and who went on to attempt a domes­tic attack – in his case, the attempted bomb­ing of the Port­land, OR Christ­mas tree light­ing cer­e­mony in 2010.

Other Amer­i­cans that have writ­ten for Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions include Younes Abdul­lah Muham­mad (aka Jesse Cur­tis Mor­ton), a co-founder of now-defunct extrem­ist group Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim. Muham­mad is cur­rently in prison, hav­ing pleaded guilty to threat­en­ing the cre­ators of South Park.

Sid­diqui and Velentzas also appeared to have been inspired by other domes­tic attacks, includ­ing the Boston Marathon bomb­ing.

Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Sid­diqui told an under­cover infor­mant “Velentzas has been obsessed with pres­sure cook­ers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013 and often makes com­ments about pres­sure cook­ers,” and Velentzas told the infor­mant that “she had recently received a pres­sure cooker as a present, and joked about cook­ing some­thing in the pres­sure cooker, then laughed and added, ‘food,’ – a ref­er­ence to explo­sive materials.”

Image from an article on making car bombs in the  Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Image from an arti­cle on mak­ing car bombs in the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire

Like the Tsar­naev broth­ers, who are accused of hav­ing per­pe­trated the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, Sid­diqui and Velentzas attempted to learn how to make bombs from Inspire mag­a­zine. Refer­ring to the Spring 2014 issue of Inspire that pro­vided instruc­tions for the con­struc­tion and place­ment of car bombs, Velentzas allegedly stated that “Inspire mag­a­zine was useful…to learn how to ‘valet’ his/her car and how to cook ‘food.’” She reg­u­larly used the word “food” as a euphemism for explosives.

The two also allegedly watched ISIS pro­pa­ganda videos online, includ­ing behead­ing and recruit­ment videos, and expressed affin­ity for ISIS. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Velentzas stated that she wanted them to be referred to as “cit­i­zens of the Islamic State,” and “that attacks on ISIS were tan­ta­mount to attacks on her own state.”

Velentzas was also report­edly friends on Face­book with Tairod Pugh, a New Jer­sey man arrested in March for attempt­ing to join ISIS.

Sev­en­teen U.S. res­i­dents in total have been arrested on Islamic extrem­ism moti­vated ter­ror charges in 2015, 6 of whom were from New York State. If arrests con­tinue at the cur­rent rate, it will reflect a marked increase of arrests over the last three years, cor­re­spond­ing to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its aggres­sive recruit­ment and pro­pa­ganda campaigns.

Twenty-five U.S. res­i­dents in total were linked to Islamic extrem­ism in 2014, and 14 in 2013, although sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of indi­vid­u­als not iden­ti­fied are believed to have trav­eled abroad to join ter­ror­ist groups.

This morning’s arrest also marked the fourth instance of a domes­tic attack plot in 2015. In Jan­u­ary, Ohio res­i­dent Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. Capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad and in Feb­ru­ary, New York City res­i­dents Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov were arrested for attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack if they were unable to do so, and in March, Hasan and Jonas Edmonds were arrested for allegedly attempt­ing to join ISIS and plot­ting an attack against a mil­i­tary base.

Notably, there were no known domes­tic plots in 2014; the cur­rent increase may be related to an increase in ISIS pro­pa­ganda encour­ag­ing such attacks.

Thirty-five U.S. res­i­dents have been pub­licly linked to or cited inspi­ra­tion from ISIS since 2014.

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March 18, 2015 4

Anti-Semitism On College Campuses in 2015

Anti-Semitic flyer posted at UC Santa Bar­bara in Sep. 2014

Update — 5/26/15: An updated list of 2015 anti-Semitic inci­dents on cam­pus is avail­able here.

After the alarm­ing anti-Semitic inci­dent at UCLA ear­lier this month, the prob­lem of anti-Semitism on col­lege cam­puses has become a national discussion.

While such inci­dents are cer­tainly dis­turb­ing, it must be noted that these inci­dents are rel­a­tively rare, and the vast major­ity of Jew­ish stu­dents feels safe on their cam­puses. When such inci­dents do occur, they are gen­er­ally con­demned by admin­is­tra­tors and the wider cam­pus com­mu­ni­ties at their respec­tive colleges.

That being said, the inci­dent at UCLA was not the only anti-Semitic inci­dent to take place so far in 2015. Other anti-Semitic inci­dents include:

  • A dorm at Pur­chase Col­lege, SUNY was van­dal­ized on March 18 with swastikas and other hate­ful graffiti.
  • Swastikas were spray-painted inside the house of a Jew­ish fra­ter­nity (Alpha Epsilon Pi) at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity on March 15.
  • At Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, the phrase “Zion­ists should be sent to the gas cham­ber” was found in a cam­pus restroom in March and a swastika was found on a uni­ver­sity owned build­ing in February.
  • On Feb­ru­ary 22, Uni­ver­sity of Chicago stu­dents and staff reported anti-Semitic posts on a Face­book page called UChicago Secrets, such as “Peo­ple are hyp­ocrites. This is a fact. One exam­ple? The Jews at UChicago…” and “As a Per­son of Pales­tin­ian descent, I don’t think it is unrea­son­able or hor­rific for me to hate Jews…”
  • Also at the end of Feb­ru­ary, threat­en­ing anti-Semitic com­ments were posted on Yik Yak (an anony­mous social media app that allows peo­ple to send and receive posts in a local­ized area) for the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago area. Some posts named spe­cific stu­dents, while other expressed more gen­eral anti-Semitic sen­ti­ments such as, “Gas them, burn them and dis­man­tle their power struc­ture. Human­ity can­not progress with the par­a­sitic Jew.”
  • At the end of Feb­ru­ary, three swastikas were drawn inside a George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity dorm.
  • On Jan­u­ary 31, two large swastikas were spray-painted on the Alpha Epsilon Pi fra­ter­nity house at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis.

If you have expe­ri­enced an anti-Semitic inci­dent on cam­pus or else­where, please report it to ADL through our web­site.

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February 25, 2015 0

ISIS Related Arrests In Brooklyn Raise 2015 Total To 10

Saidakhmetov promoted pro-ISIS sentiment on his apparent Google Plus profile

Saidakhme­tov, one of the men arrested, pro­moted pro-ISIS sen­ti­ment on his appar­ent Google Plus profile

Update — 4/7/2015: A fourth Brook­lyn res­i­dent, Dilkhayot Kasi­mov, was also charged in this case on April 6, 2015.

Yesterday’s arrest of three New York City men under­scores the per­sis­tent influ­ence of ISIS pro­pa­ganda on indi­vid­u­als resid­ing in the U.S. and the related threat to domes­tic security.

Abdura­sul Juraboev, a 24-year-old per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­dent with Uzbek cit­i­zen­ship, and Akhror Saidakhme­tov, a 19-year-old U.S. per­ma­nent res­i­dent with Kazakh cit­i­zen­ship, both cur­rently resid­ing in Brook­lyn, allegedly attempted to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of domes­tic attacks if they were unable to do so. Abror Habi­bov, a 30-year-old Brook­lyn res­i­dent with Uzbek cit­i­zen­ship, allegedly pro­vided the two with funds and encouragement.

All three were arrested last night; one at JFK Air­port while attempt­ing to board a flight to Turkey.

Accord­ing to the FBI, the men spent time online either express­ing sup­port for ISIS or watch­ing the ter­ror­ist group’s propaganda.

A Google Plus page that appears to have been cre­ated by Saidakhme­tov includes a video called “Hon­ored Sheikh inside Syria invite[s] Mus­lims to work for Khi­lafah and imple­ment HT’s con­sti­tu­tion.” Khi­lafah is Ara­bic for Caliphate, a ref­er­ence to ISIS. HT stands for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist orga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes theo­cratic gov­er­nance. Hizb ut-Tahrir is not allied with ISIS, but the sen­ti­ment con­veyed in the video was sup­port­ive of ISIS’s goals.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Juraboev was also allegedly recruited online by an ISIS sup­porter resid­ing in Iraq, to whom he said “I need to sneak out of here with extreme cau­tion with­out being noticed.”

In August, accord­ing to the com­plaint, Juraboev wrote a post on an Uzbek-language pro-ISIS web­site ask­ing “is it pos­si­ble to com­mit our­selves [to ISIS] as ded­i­cated mar­tyrs any­way while here [in the U.S.]? What I’m say­ing is, to shoot Obama and then get shot our­selves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of infidels.”

Saidakhme­tov expressed his intent to attack law enforce­ment.  Accord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint, he stated “it is legal in Amer­ica to carry a gun. We will go and pur­chase one handgun…then go and shoot one police offi­cer…. Then we will go to the FBI head­quar­ters, kill the FBI peo­ple…” The men also allegedly dis­cussed plant­ing a bomb on Coney Island.

The arrests in Brook­lyn fol­low the arrest, also yes­ter­day, of Abdi­rah­man Sheik Mohamud a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Ohio. Mohamud is sub­ject to an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion and was not linked to any par­tic­u­lar ter­ror­ist group; court doc­u­ments allege he sent funds and trav­elled to a “Mid­dle East­ern ter­ror­ist group.”

To date, 10 U.S. res­i­dents have been arrested on Islamic extremist-related ter­ror charges in 2015. The oth­ers include Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell, a 25-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Ohio, and six indi­vid­u­als of Bosn­ian descent –U.S. cit­i­zens and refugees resid­ing in Mis­souri, Illi­nois and New York – accused of aid­ing ISIS.

Last year, 19 U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing joined or attempt­ing to join or aid ISIS.

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