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August 19, 2014 0

New AQAP Magazine Calls For Lone-Wolf Attacks Against U.S. And U.K.

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Back cover of the AQAP pub­li­ca­tion, “Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience”

Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) issued a new English-language mag­a­zine on Twit­ter August 16. Titled “Pales­tine: Betrayal of the Guilty Con­science,” the pub­li­ca­tion uses the recent con­flict in Gaza as an excuse to renew the group’s call for lone-wolf attacks in the U.S. and the U.K.

AQAP has reg­u­larly issued such calls for lone-wolf attacks in the past, includ­ing just a few days ago when it urged fol­low­ers to attack the U.S. in retal­i­a­tion for mil­i­tary assis­tance in Iraq.

The mag­a­zine, which reuses con­tent from AQAP’s Inspire mag­a­zine, includes direc­tions for build­ing pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs and sug­gests a new list of poten­tial tar­gets includ­ing Israeli, British and Amer­i­can owned com­pa­nies, tourist resorts fre­quented by Amer­i­can, British and Israeli cit­i­zens, Las Vegas casi­nos and night clubs, Geor­gia Mil­i­tary Col­lege, the US Air Force Acad­emy, Gen­eral Atom­ics head­quar­ters in San Diego, and Marks and Spencer stores in Britain.

For more infor­ma­tion about this pub­li­ca­tion, see the ADL analy­sis “AQAP Exploits Gaza Con­flict to Call for Lone-Wolf Attacks Against U.S.”

ADL has also writ­ten exten­sively about the  influ­ence posed by such online English-language pro­pa­ganda on would-be domes­tic extrem­ists and the ensu­ing threat it poses to domes­tic security.

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July 22, 2013 0

Florida Teen, Shelton Thomas Bell, Latest American To Attempt To Join Al Qaeda

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Shel­ton Thomas bell

The lat­est Amer­i­can cit­i­zen to appar­ently respond to Al Qaeda’s call by attempt­ing to join the ter­ror­ist group is 19-year-old Florid­ian Shel­ton Thomas Bell.

Bell, who accord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors attempted to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) in Yemen, has been charged with con­spir­ing and attempt­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to terrorists.

Since 2007, at least 52 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been arrested or charged for suc­cess­fully trav­el­ing or attempt­ing to travel abroad to reach Al Qaeda affil­i­ate groups. Many joined or attempted to join Al Shabaab in Soma­lia, while oth­ers have received train­ing in Pak­istan. More recently, some Amer­i­cans have been attracted to Jab­hat al-Nusrah in Syria.

Bell, report­edly a Mus­lim con­vert, “devised a plan to travel to the Ara­bian Penin­sula to join Ansar al Sharia (AAS),” an alias for (AQAP), “and par­tic­i­pate in vio­lent armed con­flict that he termed ‘jihad,’” accord­ing to the fed­eral indictment.

Bell and a juve­nile trav­eled to Jor­dan Sep­tem­ber 2012 and made con­tact with some­one who could facil­i­tate their travel to Yemen and intro­duce them to ter­ror­ists, accord­ing to the indictment.

The indict­ment also alleges that between May 2012 and Sep­tem­ber 2012, Bell and oth­ers engaged in phys­i­cal, firearms, and other train­ing in prepa­ra­tion for what Bell described as “the actions of jihad,” includ­ing “a night-time mis­sion” in which they van­dal­ized reli­gious stat­ues at a Jack­sonville cemetery.

Bell allegedly also made video and audio record­ings for the pur­pose of solic­it­ing and recruit­ing oth­ers to par­tic­i­pate in vio­lent jihad.

Lead­ers of the Islamic Cen­ter of North­east Florida in Jack­sonville report­edly noti­fied law enforce­ment about Bell because they were con­cerned about con­ver­sa­tion he was hav­ing about weapons and jihad at their mosque.

AQAP has been described by the U.S. gov­ern­ment as “the most active and dan­ger­ous” branch of Al Qaeda. The growth of AQAP has led Amer­i­can offi­cials to indi­cate that Yemen could become Al Qaeda’s next oper­a­tional and train­ing hub for the group’s mil­i­tants from around the world.

A key com­po­nent of AQAP’s oper­a­tional strat­egy entails reach­ing out to English-speaking audi­ences with its mes­sages and pro­pa­ganda in order to recruit new mem­bers. This mate­r­ial encour­ages West­ern audi­ences to adopt its ide­ol­ogy and carry out attacks against West­ern inter­ests in the Ara­bian Penin­sula and abroad.

The dri­ving forces behind AQAP’s English-language pro­pa­ganda machine were Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric, and Samir Khan, an Amer­i­can blog­ger and pro­pa­gan­dist, both of whom were killed in a Sep­tem­ber 30, 2011 drone strike.

Bell, who worked as a com­puter repair ven­dor at a flea mar­ket in Jack­sonville, is in jail await­ing trial on unre­lated grand theft charges.

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June 14, 2013 0

Al Qaeda Propagandist Faces Extradition To New York

A British national of Viet­namese ori­gin is fac­ing extra­di­tion to the United States for his alleged role help­ing Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) cre­ate and dis­trib­ute the type of online pro­pa­ganda that has become a sta­ple of domes­tic ter­ror­istsinspire-al-qaeda-pham

The indict­ment, filed in New York fed­eral court in June 2012, alleges that Minh Quang Pham “pro­vided expert advice and assis­tance in pho­tog­ra­phy and graphic design of media” for AQAP. In addi­tion to help­ing AQAP craft its pro­pa­ganda, author­i­ties also allege that Pham helped dis­sem­i­nate the propaganda.

These graph­ics, cou­pled with West­ern ref­er­ences, prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion and anti-Semitic nar­ra­tives have made AQAP’s Inspire mag­a­zine an effec­tive recruit­ment and rad­i­cal­iza­tion tool. 

Before trav­el­ing to Yemen in 2010 and bring­ing his pro­fes­sional exper­tise to AQAP, Pham report­edly estab­lished a busi­ness in Lon­don as a web and graph­ics designer. 

The indict­ment also alleges that Pham met with two unnamed Amer­i­cans, a likely ref­er­ence to Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP’s American-born ide­o­logue who also served as its chief of exter­nal oper­a­tions, and Samir Khan, an Amer­i­can blog­ger who was believed to be the prin­ci­pal edi­tor of Inspire. Both Awlaki and Khan were killed in a drone strike in Sep­tem­ber 2011.

Pham is for­mally charged with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to AQAP, receiv­ing mil­i­tary train­ing from a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, firearms charges and two other related crimes. He report­edly trav­eled from the UK to Yemen in 2010 where he allegedly received weapons train­ing, took an oath of alle­giance to AQAP, and pro­vided his expert media advice to the ter­ror­ist organization.

British author­i­ties arrested Pham last June, coin­cid­ing with the announce­ment of the Amer­i­can charges against him. He had pre­vi­ously been in immi­gra­tion cus­tody after ammu­ni­tion was allegedly found in his bag after he returned from the Mid­dle East.  His extra­di­tion hear­ing is sched­uled for August. 

If con­victed on all charges, he faces the pos­si­bil­ity of life in prison.

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