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July 17, 2015 0

Military Sites And Personnel: A Common Target for Islamic Extremists

The Chattanooga recruiting center attacked by Abdulazeez on July 16, 2015

The recruit­ing cen­ter attacked by Abdu­lazeez on July 16, 2015

The motive behind Moham­mad Yousef Abdulazeez’s attack on two mil­i­tary sites in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee, that killed four Marines yes­ter­day remains unclear. His actions, how­ever, are con­sis­tent with other domes­tic attacks and plots car­ried out by U.S. res­i­dents moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ideologies.

Mil­i­tary sites and per­son­nel are a com­mon tar­get for Islamic extrem­ists in the U.S. and ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda has encour­aged vio­lence against mil­i­tary tar­gets. An Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS) pro­pa­ganda video released April 14, 2015, for exam­ple, fea­tured images of dead and wounded sol­diers with the cap­tions, “muti­lated sol­diers are com­ing back to your home­land close to des­per­a­tion. Eyes are being lost, bod­ies with­out legs, we want your blood….”

Two of the three deadly Islamic extrem­ist attacks in the U.S. since 2009, (the Ft. Hood shoot­ing and the shoot­ing at the Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas army recruit­ing cen­ter) were specif­i­cally directed at mil­i­tary targets.

  • Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad was 23 years old when he killed one sol­dier and injured another dur­ing a drive by shoot­ing at a mil­i­tary recruit­ing office in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas. Muham­mad, a con­vert to Islam, admit­ted shoot­ing the uni­formed sol­diers “because of what they had done to Mus­lims in the past” and said that he “would have killed more sol­diers had they been in the park­ing lot.” He also report­edly admit­ted that he was angry about the killing of Mus­lims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to the Lit­tle Rock shoot­ing, he had thrown a fire­bomb at a rabbi’s house  in Nashville, Ten­nessee, and fired shots at a rabbi’s home in Lit­tle Rock. Loca­tions and indi­vid­u­als that are, or are per­ceived as, Jew­ish or related to Israel are also reg­u­lar tar­gets for Islamic extrem­ist plots. Moham­mad had also attempted to carry out an addi­tional attack on a mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter in Kentucky.
  • Nidal Malik Has­san, was 39 years old when he killed 13 peo­ple at the Fort Hood Army Base in Texas, where he had been work­ing as an army psy­chi­a­trist. Prior to the attack, Has­san had been in con­tact with Anwar Al-Awlaki, the U.S. born English-language pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP), who was killed in a drone strike in 2011. In an inter­view with a Yemeni jour­nal­ist, al-Awlaki claimed that Hasan viewed him as a con­fi­dant and he said that he “blessed the act because it was against a mil­i­tary tar­get. And the sol­diers who were killed were not nor­mal sol­diers, but those who were trained and pre­pared to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.”

There have been numer­ous other plots against mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions and per­son­nel in the years since the Fort Hood and Lit­tle Rock attacks in 2009. The fol­low­ing is a sam­pling of those plots that tar­geted spe­cific mil­i­tary facil­i­ties in the U.S. since 2009:

  • April 10, 2015: John T. Booker, Jr., a 20-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Kansas was arrested and charged with attempt­ing to under­take a sui­cide attack at Ft. Riley mil­i­tary base.
  • March 26, 2015: Hasan Edmonds, a 22-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Illi­nois and Jonas Edmonds, a 29-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Illi­nois, were arrested and charged with attempt­ing to join ISIS. Court doc­u­ments indi­cate the two were also for­mu­lat­ing a plot against the National Guard armory in Juliet where Hasan, a mem­ber of the National Guard, had trained, using Hasan’s uni­form and his knowl­edge of the site.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2015: An Unnamed 16-year-old minor from South Car­olina was arrested for a plot to under­take a shoot­ing at a North Car­olina mil­i­tary insti­tu­tion and then travel to join ISIS. He was charged as a minor in pos­ses­sion of a pis­tol and sen­tenced in March 2015 to five years in juve­nile deten­tion, fol­lowed by counseling.
  • Feb­ru­ary 2, 2015: Abdi­rah­man Sheikh Mohamud, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Ohio, was arrested and charged with join­ing Jab­hat al Nusra. Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Muhamud returned to the U.S. with the inten­tion of com­mit­ting an attack against a Texas mil­i­tary base.
  • Feb­ru­ary 7, 2014: Erwin Anto­nio Rios, a 19-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was arrested in 2013 and charged with pos­ses­sion of a stolen firearm. He is believed to have been plan­ning to mur­der U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel at Ft. Bragg.
  • Sep­tem­ber 29, 2011: Rezwan Matin Fer­daus, a 26-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was arrested for plan­ning to fly explosives-packed model air­planes into the Pen­ta­gon in order to “dis­able their (the Amer­i­can) mil­i­tary center.”
  • July 27, 2011:Naser Jason Abdo, a 21-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen, was charged in July 2011 with plan­ning to bomb a restau­rant fre­quented by Ft. Hood per­son­nel and then to tar­get the sur­vivors with firearms. Abdo yelled “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009″ while leav­ing his first court appearance.
  • June 23, 2011: Yonathan Melaku, a 23-year-old nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen orig­i­nally from Ethiopia, was arrested after he fired shots at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the Iwo Jima memo­r­ial and the Pentagon.
  • June 23, 2011: Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a 33-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and Walli Majahidh, a 32-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen were arrested for a plot to attack a Mil­i­tary Entrance Pro­cess­ing Site in Seat­tle, Washington.
  • Decem­ber 8, 2010: Anto­nio Mar­tinez, a 21-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and a recent con­vert to Islam, was charged with attempt­ing to det­o­nate what he believed was a car bomb at an army recruit­ing cen­ter in Catonsville, Maryland.
  • Novem­ber 5, 2009: As described above, Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and army psy­chi­a­trist, killed 12 sol­diers and one civil­ian in a shoot­ing at the Fort Hood army base.
  • July 27, 2009: Daniel Patrick Boyd, a 39-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and con­vert to Islam, was arrested together with his sons, Dylan Boyd (22) and Zakariya Boyd (20), and four other North Car­olina res­i­dents — Ziyad Yaghi (21), Moham­mad Omar Aly Has­san (22), Anes Sub­a­sic (33), Hysen Sher­ifi (24) and Jude Kenan Muham­mad (20) — with con­spir­ing to mur­der U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel in con­nec­tion with Boyd’s alleged sur­veil­lance of a Marine Corps base in Quan­tico, Vir­ginia. Boyd had obtained maps of the mil­i­tary base to plan the attack and pos­sessed armor pierc­ing ammu­ni­tion to “attack the Amer­i­cans,” accord­ing to the Depart­ment of Justice.
  • June 1, 2009: As described above, Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad, a 23-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen and a con­vert to Islam, was arrested fol­low­ing his attack at the Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter that killed one soldier.
  • May 20, 2009: U.S. cit­i­zens James Cromi­tie (44), David Williams (28) and Onta Williams (32) and Hait­ian native Laguerre Payen (23) were arrested for a plot that involved plant­ing what they believed were bombs in cars out­side of the Riverdale Tem­ple and the nearby Riverdale Jew­ish Cen­ter. They also plot­ted to destroy mil­i­tary air­craft at the New York Air National Guard Base located at Stew­art Air­port in New­burgh, New York.

There have also been instances of indi­vid­u­als who dis­cussed attack­ing the mil­i­tary or mil­i­tary per­son­nel more broadly, but did not have spe­cific tar­gets. They include Asia Sid­diqui and Noelle Velentzas, who were arrested in 2015 and allegedly dis­cussed bomb­ing a mil­i­tary or gov­ern­ment tar­get;  Mufid Elfgeeh, who was arrested in 2014 and allegedly intended to shoot mil­i­tary per­son­nel; and Jose Pimentel, who was arrested in 2011 and plot­ted to attack mil­i­tary per­son­nel and other targets.

Oth­ers report­edly con­sid­ered attack­ing mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions but then chose other tar­gets instead. For exam­ple, Alexan­der Cic­colo was arrested in 2015 and allegedly dis­cussed tar­get­ing the mil­i­tary before decid­ing to attack a uni­ver­sity, and Amine El Khal­ifi, who was arrested in 2012 and allegedly dis­cussed tar­get­ing the mil­i­tary before decid­ing to attack the Cap­i­tal building.

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December 24, 2014 1

13th Issue of AQAP Inspire Calls for Attacks Against U.S. Airliners

AQAP-Inspire-13-magazine-cover

Inspire 13 cover image

Update: 12/24/2013 — Fol­low­ing noti­fi­ca­tion by the ADL, YouTube has removed the video pro­mot­ing Inspire 13 from its site.

The 13th issue of Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine, released on Decem­ber 24, lays out a strat­egy for defeat­ing the U.S. by attack­ing Amer­i­can mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy, man­power, media and econ­omy, and encour­ages lone wolf attacks against com­mer­cial air­planes and finan­cial figures.

The cen­tral fea­ture of the mag­a­zine, enti­tled “The Hid­den Bomb” presents step-by-step, illus­trated instruc­tions for con­struct­ing a home-made eas­ily portable bomb inside 17cm of a plas­tic water bot­tle case.  These instruc­tions fol­low pre­vi­ous issues of Inspire that included instruc­tions for pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs, as well as sug­ges­tions for other types of attacks such as run­ning civil­ians over with cars.

This issue of Inspire sug­gests that the bombs be used against U.S. com­mer­cial air­lin­ers – specif­i­cally Amer­i­can Air­lines, Delta, United or Con­ti­nen­tal, and ide­ally over U.S. soil. It also pro­vides advice as to the best loca­tion on the plane and alti­tude at which to det­o­nate the device.

If an attack on a U.S. air­liner is not fea­si­ble, the mag­a­zine sug­gests attack­ing British com­pa­nies British Air­ways or Easy Jet, or French com­pa­nies Air­France or Air­France KL. A dif­fer­ent arti­cle fur­ther clar­i­fies the pri­or­i­ties of attack, stat­ing that, “the first pri­or­ity and the main focus should be on Amer­ica, then the United King­dom, then France…. This goes on with the NATO coun­tries as per the known order.”

The guide claims that this bomb can be hid­den in a part of the body not included in air­port pat-downs and is unde­tectable by dogs, odor-detecting machines, or metal detec­tors. The arti­cle states that the bomb is detectable by mil­lime­ter wave scan­ners, but the mag­a­zine advises that “in most cases they are not used in local airports.”

Inspire 13 also encour­ages assas­si­na­tions of Amer­i­can finan­cial lead­ers listed as “eco­nomic per­son­al­i­ties” such as Ben Bernanke or “wealthy entre­pre­neurs” such as Bill Gates. It advises that if those per­son­al­i­ties remove their money from U.S. banks, stop invest­ing in the U.S., and declare that they dis­agree with Amer­i­can poli­cies, they will not be targeted.

The mag­a­zine also includes sev­eral sec­tions high­light­ing the actions of Al Qaeda mem­bers and indi­vid­u­als that it claims under­took vio­lent actions on behalf of the extrem­ist cause. These include Alton Nolan of Okla­homa, Michael Zehaf Bebeau of Que­bec, Mar­tin Rouleau-Couture of Ottowa, Zale Thomp­son of New York and Man Haron Monis of Aus­tralia – the major­ity of whom seem to have under­taken attacks through some com­bi­na­tion of per­sonal vio­lent ten­den­cies and encour­age­ment from ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda  but have not been asso­ci­ated with ter­ror­ist movements.

Image from the magazine advocating lone wolf attacks

Image from the mag­a­zine advo­cat­ing lone wolf attacks

“The Lions of Allah who are all over the globe – some call them lone wolves – should know that they are the West’s worst night­mare,” states one article.

In some sec­tions, it attempts to exploit con­tro­ver­sial issues in the U.S. as ratio­nales for join­ing ter­ror­ist move­ments. For exam­ple, a short quote states, “If I am an Afro-American liv­ing in Fer­gu­son – I’d rather be labeled a ter­ror­ist.” One arti­cle pre­sented as an inter­view with an AQAP mem­ber states U.S. tor­ture of Mus­lim pris­on­ers as a rea­son to attack the U.S.

The major­ity of jus­ti­fi­ca­tions pre­sented for attack­ing the U.S., how­ever, have been uti­lized by Al Qaeda and its affil­i­ates since the group’s found­ing: Attacks should be under­taken because of alleged Amer­i­can sup­port for cur­rent regimes in Mus­lim coun­tries;; sup­port for the Russ­ian and Indian gov­ern­ments in their fights against ter­ror­ism; and hav­ing “sur­ren­dered to the Jews” in sup­port­ing the State of Israel.

Like other issues of Inspire, it also attempts to draw read­ers in by ask­ing provoca­tive ques­tions and mak­ing the attack sound sim­ple. “It’s not nec­es­sary to do what Mohammed Atta (of the 9/11 attack) did,” notes a poem in the mag­a­zine, “it’s enough to do what Nidal Hasan (of the Fort Hood shoot­ing) did.”

Other sec­tions of the mag­a­zine include an essay com­mem­o­rat­ing Tamer­lan Tsar­naev of the Boston Marathon Bomb­ing, quotes about Inspire by Amer­i­can aca­d­e­mics and gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and a “Mes­sage for the Amer­i­can Peo­ple Regard­ing the Killing of Luke Somers,” the Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist taken hostage by AQAP and killed dur­ing a res­cue mis­sion ear­lier this month.

This edi­tion of Inspire was released together with a pro­mo­tional video that fea­tured images from the mag­a­zine to the back­drop of a song in Eng­lish that included the lyrics, “The bat­tle for the hearts and minds will con­tinue till the kuf­far (apos­tates or dis­be­liev­ers) in vice,” “Inspir­ing the believ­ers to jihad has become the newest fad,” and, “Amer­ica you are being watched…the mujahideen (reli­gious fight­ers) are com­ing for you.”

Inspire is per­haps the most noto­ri­ous Al Qaeda pro­pa­ganda vehi­cle. It has played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of mul­ti­ple domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers (of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing), Jose Pimentel (attempted bomb­ing in NYC) and Abdel Daoud (attempted bomb­ing in Chicago).

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March 18, 2014 0

New Terror Magazines Highlight Al Qaeda Commitment To Recruitment In U.S.

Inspire 12 back imageAl Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s March 15 release of a new issue of its English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine, Inspire, cou­pled with Al Qaeda’s March 9 announce­ment of its new English-language mag­a­zine, Resur­gence, demon­strates ter­ror­ist groups’ per­sis­tent com­mit­ment to rad­i­cal­iz­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of home­grown Islamic extrem­ists through its online initiatives.

The Spring 2014 issue of Inspire pro­vides detailed instruc­tions on how to build a car bomb, with sug­ges­tions of loca­tions to plant them in New York City, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., North­ern Vir­ginia, Chicago and Los Ange­les, as well as in the UK and France. “Many Feisal Shahzads are resid­ing inside Amer­ica,” explains the edi­tor refer­ring to the man who attempted to det­o­nate a bomb in Times Square in 2010, “and all they need is the knowl­edge of how to make car bombs….The Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment was unable to pro­tect its cit­i­zens from pres­sure cooker bombs in back­packs [a ref­er­ence to the Boston marathon bomb­ing], I won­der if they are ready to stop car bombs!”

As in the past, the new issue is replete with anti-Semitic state­ments and high­lights the sup­posed exis­tence of a “Jew­ish enemy” to recruit terrorists.

The lat­est issue of Inspire also refers to sev­eral home­grown Islamic extrem­ists that the pub­li­ca­tion claims to have influ­enced, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers who were respon­si­ble for the Boston Marathon bomb­ing; Nidal Hasan of the Fort Hood shoot­ing, and Feisal Shahzad, the attempted Times Square bomber.

Shortly before the release of this newest issue of Inspire, As-Sahab, the media arm of Al Qaeda’s cen­tral orga­ni­za­tion, released a slick video pro­mot­ing a new ter­ror­ist mag­a­zine called Resur­gence on March 9, 2014. The new mag­a­zine is likely mod­eled after Inspire, which has influ­enced numer­ous home­grown Islamic extrem­ists since 2010, includ­ing the Boston bombers.

The pro­mo­tional video for Resur­gence, cre­ated in “kinetic typog­ra­phy” designed for Eng­lish speak­ing audi­ences, includes a voiceover from a Mal­colm X speech on vio­lence. Over video footage of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, the voiceover says: “They only know one lan­guage,” allud­ing to vio­lence. “You can’t ever reach a man,” the voiceover con­tin­ues, “if you don’t speak his language.”

A new ADL report, Home­grown Islamic Extrem­ism in 2013:The Per­ils of Online Recruit­ment & Self-Radicalization ana­lyzes the rise of such online pro­pa­ganda and its effects and impact on domes­tic secu­rity. In addi­tion, the report looks back at 2013, when 14 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens or per­ma­nent res­i­dents were impli­cated in the U.S. on terror-related charges, rang­ing from domes­tic plots and con­spir­a­cies to pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to ter­ror­ists abroad. Many were directly influ­enced by pro­pa­ganda eas­ily acces­si­ble online, includ­ing the Boston bombers.

As Inter­net pro­fi­ciency and the use of social media grow ever more uni­ver­sal, so too do the efforts of ter­ror­ist groups to exploit new tech­nol­ogy in order to make mate­ri­als that jus­tify and sanc­tion vio­lence more accessible.

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