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December 12, 2012

Shabaab Spokesman’s “Close Friend” Arrested

Two American citizens residing in Alabama were arrested yesterday in Georgia on suspicion of terrorism-related activity.

Randy “Rasheed” Wilson was arrested in Atlanta attempting to board a flight to Morocco. Wilson allegedly claimed to be a close friend of Omar Hammami, the Alabama native who became the public face of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali terrorist organization. His co-conspirator, Mohammad Abukhdair, was arrested at a bus station en route to Canada from where he reportedly planned to join Wilson.  Both were charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists in an Alabama federal court on Monday.

According to court documents, Wilson and Abukhdair expressed their admiration for radical American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Osama bin Laden, as well as repeating their commitment to carry out violent jihad, to an undercover FBI employee.  They even turned over a cache of jihadist propaganda, including Awlaki lectures, to the undercover employee for destruction. Wilson, who is 25, apparently believed that “one way or another everyone’s gonna have to fight… there’s no deed better than jihad,” according to the transcripts of recorded conversations submitted to the court.

Wilson had previously reportedly conspired with another mutual friend of Hammami’s (who later became a confidential informant) to travel to Somalia to join Al Shabaab. Abukhdair had been detained by Egyptian authorities on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity and was deported back to the United States.  He apparently admitted to the undercover FBI employee that he had jihadist material on his laptop at the time and believed that “Allah protected him” because Egyptian intelligence had not found it.

The two men, who met online in 2010, supposedly discussed several possible destinations, including traveling to Somalia via Sudan, where they reportedly expected special treatment because of Wilson’s relationship with Hammami. Abukhdair alternatively proposed that they carry out attacks in the United States because he feared he would not be allowed to travel internationally after being turned away from a flight to Jordan earlier this year.  According to the charges, Abukhdair allegedly suggested engaging in hostage-taking operations in the U.S. and demanding the release of Muslim terrorists being held in American prisons in exchange.

The court documents assert that Wilson and Abukhdair made definite travel arrangements to go to Mauritania via Morocco in October. The two also reportedly discussed traveling to Mali from Mauritania where Islamic militants are active in the north of the country.

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September 20, 2012

Chicago Teen Arrested For “Violent Jihad” Bomb Plot

Adel Daoud Photo From Facebook

An 18-year-old Chicagoan was arrested last week by the FBI for attempting to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside a bar in downtown Chicago. The plot was apparently intended as retaliation for America’s perceived war with Islam and “oppression against Muslims.”

Adel Daoud was arrested after trying to set off a fake device set up by FBI agents as a part of a sting operation. Federal authorities began monitoring Daoud in October 2011, after discovering his radical posts on Jihadist Internet forums.

His online activity included sending friends copies of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language terrorist magazine, Inspire, in order to “brainwash them.” On one online extremist forum, Daoud described Inspire as “the best magazine I have read.”

He also shared recorded lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric killed in Yemen last year, and a video by American terrorist Omar Hammami, an Alabama native who became the pub­lic face and voice of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.

According to the FBI affidavit, Daoud also used the internet to research justifications for suicide bombings and attacks on civilians. In May of this year, federal authorities began communicating with Daoud online and by July, undercover agents were meeting with him in person.

During the course of the FBI investigation, according to the affidavit, Daoud expressed his desire to carry out attacks in the United States and to travel abroad to join terrorist groups overseas, in particular in Yemen. Daoud allegedly applied for a new passport in March 2012.

Before settling on the bar, Daoud presented a list of proposed targets, including military instillations, concerts, malls and tourist attractions. According to a recorded conversation with the undercover agent, Daoud alluded to the fact that Muslims shouldn’t be at a bar, and if they are, they deserve what they get.

“I want [to do] something that’s gonna make it in the news,” he said, according to the affidavit. “If it’s only like five, ten people, I’m not gonna feel that good.”

One of Daoud’s friends was allegedly involved in the plot as well, but dropped out after being confronted by the sheikh at the mosque they attended.

Daoud has been charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and an explosives violation. He faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.

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May 23, 2012

Alabama Jihadist Omar Hammami Resurfaces Online

Update: An audio lecture by Hammami posted online on May 25 may provide insights into his apparent rift with Al Shabaab.  In the 45-minute lecture, originally posted online in January but quickly removed, he criticizes jihadist organizations with a local focus, likening them to a “cancerous tumor.” He also calls for all Muslims to unite in a “jihad of the entire Ummah [Muslim nation]” under the banner of restored Caliphate. 

Amid rumors of his death and his own declaration that his “life may be endangered by” the terrorist organization he joined in Somalia, Omar Hammami, an Alabama native who became the public face and voice of Al Shabaab, announced that he is still alive in part 1 of his autobiography.

In the autobiography, disseminated online on May 16, Hammami describes his journey from Alabama to his involvement in the creation of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-linked Somali terrorist group.

He calls joining jihad “the dream of any Muslim who has the love of the religion burning in his heart” and maintains that it is “truly an individual obligation upon all of us.” Hammami portrays himself as “a man with no regrets” despite his apparent falling out with Al Shabaab’s leadership.

In describing his role as a terrorist propagandist, Hammami advises that “being casual, when possible, is a better approach when reaching out to those like myself in the West… my peers can smell a poser from a mile away.” He also stresses the importance of media to the jihadist movement. “The war of narratives has become even more important than the war of navies, napalms, and knives.

Hammami also discusses his relationship with Daniel Maldonado, an American currently serving 10 years in prison for receiving militant training in Somalia with him after they traveled together to the Middle East.

Hammami concludes part 1 by urging others to emulate him. “Not that I’m extremely special, but then again I haven’t seen too many middle class ‘white’ guys from Alabama in Jihaad these days. Hopefully others will say to themselves: ‘I can do that too!’”

On May 22, a photo of Hammami posing with a computer displaying the autobiography was released online, ostensibly to confirm that he is indeed still alive and that the autobiography is authentic.

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