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March 6, 2015 1

VA Arrest Raises Total Of Americans Linked To ISIS Since 2014 To 30

isis-fighters

ISIS mil­i­tants

The arrest of a 17-year-old Vir­ginia teenager on charges that he had sup­ported the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) brings the num­ber of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and res­i­dents pub­licly iden­ti­fied as linked with ISIS since Jan­u­ary 2014 to 30.

The teenager, who has not been named, allegedly helped another man travel to Syria to join ISIS, at least in part, by using online resources and the help of online contacts.

He is one of eight Amer­i­can teenagers alleged to have attempted to pro­vide sup­port for ISISin the past two years. The oth­ers included 19-year-old Mohamed Hamzah Khan and his two unnamed sib­lings, aged 16 and 17, from Chicago who attempted to join ISIS, three unnamed girls aged 15, 16 and 17, from Den­ver, who attempted to join ISIS and Shan­non Mau­reen Con­ley, a 19-year-old Den­ver woman who, in a sep­a­rate inci­dent, also attempted to join ISIS.

In total, 11 U.S. cit­i­zens and res­i­dents have been linked with ISIS in 2015, with arrests made in Vir­ginia, New York, Mis­souri, Indi­ana, Illi­nois and Ohio.

Nine­teen were believed to have attempted to join or aid ISIS – or died while fight­ing with the group – in 2014.

Ear­lier this month, ISIS claimed via social media accounts and radio broad­casts that another Amer­i­can, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Daud al Amriki, died as part of a sui­cide attack.  His death and iden­tity are still unconfirmed.

These indi­vid­u­als com­prise only a frac­tion of the total num­ber of Amer­i­cans believed to have joined or attempted to join or aid ISIS. National Intel­li­gence Direc­tor James Clap­per said cur­rent esti­mates indi­cate that about 180 Amer­i­cans have attempted to join the fight in Syria. It is unclear how many of those Amer­i­cans attempted to join ISIS, as opposed to other mil­i­tant groups.

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November 19, 2014 0

Recent Arrest Highlights ISIS Recruitment of Women

The recent arrest of a Vir­ginia woman on charges related to her sup­port for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) high­lights the grow­ing phe­nom­e­non of female mem­bers and sup­port­ers of ISIS – a trend linked to ISIS pro­pa­ganda and recruit­ment efforts aimed directly at women.

ADL doc­u­mented eight female U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents who have been sus­pected of involve­ment with ter­ror­ist groups in 2014 (only four were arrested; the oth­ers were minors).  This is a sharp uptick: ADL doc­u­mented only 12 female U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents arrested on ter­ror charges between 2002 and 2013.

Six of the women believed to have engaged in ter­ror­ist activ­ity 2014 are accused of involve­ment with ISIS. Esti­mates indi­cate that about 10% of the group’s West­ern recruits are female.

Heather Eliz­a­beth Coff­man, the most recent woman arrested in con­nec­tion with her sup­port for ISIS, had allegedly main­tained sev­eral Face­book accounts on which she posted pro-ISIS mes­sages and pro­pa­ganda. Coff­man claimed that she could facil­i­tate travel to join ISIS for poten­tial recruits, offer­ing to con­nect them with ter­ror­ists abroad. She denied these activ­i­ties in an inter­view with law enforce­ment and is charged with lying to fed­eral agents about her involve­ment with ISIS.

ISIS mes­sag­ing to women empha­sizes their poten­tial roles as the wives of fight­ers and moth­ers to the next gen­er­a­tion of extrem­ists. The ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion has even estab­lished media wings aimed at women.

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Poster announc­ing the cre­ation of Al Zora Foundation

One such media out­let, Al Zora Foun­da­tion, pub­lishes recipes and first aid sug­ges­tions together with posters of women in burkas declar­ing alle­giance to ISIS. A recipe for dates with mil­let, for exam­ple, is pro­vided as a “fast mild appe­tizer eaten with cof­fee that pro­vides food for the muha­jideen (fighters)…they are high in calo­ries and pro­vide the Mujahideen energy and strength.”

Al Zora has also pro­vided advice to women seek­ing to travel to join ISIS. “How many female Mus­lims are dis­tin­guished from all female Mus­lims where her concern…and her life aspi­ra­tion is the explo­sive belt?” asks one memo, fol­lowed by advice for these women to learn first aid, sewing, and cook­ing, and to par­tic­i­pate in exer­cise and weapons train­ing, as well as extra prayers and sup­pli­ca­tions that they can use to aid the fight­ers and teach other women upon their arrival in Syria. “Imag­ine with me, oh sis­ter,” it states in the sec­tion on sewing, “if a muja­heed, a brother to you in Allah, is mar­tyred and his jihadi clothes that he wore and in which he walked, trained, waged jihad, and afflicted the enemy of Allah, were made by your hands.”

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A Khansa media poster announc­ing a new series of posters for female ISIS supporters

Another media out­let, Khansa Media, releases posters and ban­ners with ISIS pro­pa­ganda state­ments set along­side flow­ers and pink back­grounds. It has recently intro­duced a series of posters pro­claim­ing the “virtues of women.” A video announc­ing the relaunch of Khansa media this Sep­tem­ber stated, “We send our mes­sage to [Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter] al-Maliki and his army that we are ready for him, and we will remain as assets and sup­port for our hus­bands and our chil­dren,” fol­lowed by clips depict­ing women train­ing with weapons.

Both Khansa media and Al Zora also reg­u­larly repost and retweet pro­pa­ganda from ISIS’s pri­mary media out­lets. Some­times they also add their logos to the cor­ners of posters prais­ing dead fight­ers and the glo­ries of battle.

Mul­ti­ple female sup­port­ers of ISIS also engage with the group’s con­tent on social media, includ­ing Face­book, Twit­ter, and Ask.FM. These sup­port­ers post typ­i­cal ISIS pro­pa­ganda about fight­ing and behead­ings along­side state­ments about mod­esty and extrem­ist Islam. They empha­size their chil­dren (often their Twit­ter han­dles begin with the word “umm” which means ‘mother of’ fol­lowed by a child’s name) and every­day life, while pro­vid­ing tips to poten­tial recruits and actively encour­ag­ing oth­ers to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the ter­ror­ist group.

Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, nor is it ISIS spe­cific. Two of the women arrested in 2014 who were not involved with ISIS are accused of sup­port­ing Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda affil­i­ate. In pre­vi­ous years, women have been arrested for causes as diverse as attempt­ing to estab­lish a ter­ror cell abroad to send­ing funds and aid to var­i­ous ter­ror groups to attempt­ing to kill U.S. per­son­nel abroad.

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September 5, 2014 1

The American Face of Foreign Terror Recruits

marcos-alonso-zea-terrorism

Mar­cos Alonso Zea of New York attempted to join AQAP

U.S. intel­li­gence esti­mates indi­cate that sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of Amer­i­cans – as few as a dozen or as many as 300, accord­ing to some offi­cials – have trav­eled abroad to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Although most of these indi­vid­u­als have not been pub­licly iden­ti­fied, con­crete infor­ma­tion is avail­able about 20 Amer­i­cans who fought or attempted to travel abroad since the begin­ning of 2013. An analy­sis of their back­grounds pro­vides inter­est­ing sta­tis­tics that may sup­ple­ment our under­stand­ing of the peo­ple attracted to ter­ror orga­ni­za­tions and pro­vide clues about the many addi­tional, uniden­ti­fied Amer­i­cans believed to have trav­eled abroad.

For exam­ple, the infor­ma­tion tells us that:

  • They range in age from 18 to 44, but the major­ity are in their 20s.
  • Nine of them joined or attempted to join ISIS.
  • Six of them joined or attempted to join the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Syria Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Three of them joined or attempted to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) in Yemen.
  • 13 of the 20, or 65%, are report­edly con­verts to Islam.
  • They come from across the coun­try: Six came from Cal­i­for­nia, two each from Min­nesota, Michi­gan, North Car­olina, Florida and New York. Other states rep­re­sented include Texas, Penn­syl­va­nia, Illi­nois, Mass­a­chu­setts and Arizona.
  • Only two of the 20 were women. (ADL has doc­u­mented 13 female cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents of the U.S. arrested on ter­ror­ism charges since 2002.)

The num­ber of Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fied as attempt­ing to join ISIS spiked sharply in 2014. Seven of the nine Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fied above attempted to join the ter­ror group just this year.  Whereas in 2013, half of the Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fied attempted to join the con­flict in Syria, but only one to ISIS.

This influx of Amer­i­cans attempt­ing to join ISIS is tak­ing place as ISIS steps ups its threats against the U.S., includ­ing behead­ing Amer­i­cans and expand­ing its sophis­ti­cated online media cam­paign designed to moti­vate and recruit westerners.

Indeed, con­fir­ma­tion by U.S. offi­cials that two Amer­i­can men with links to Min­nesota were killed last month in Syria is the lat­est indi­ca­tion that ISIS has replaced Al Shabaab in Soma­lia as the ter­ror­ist des­ti­na­tion of choice for Amer­i­can mil­i­tants. 

A full list of names follows:

  • Ahmad Abousamra of Mass­a­chu­setts: Believed to be work­ing with ISIS in Iraq or Syria (iden­ti­fied in 2014).
  • Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed of Min­nesota: Killed in Syria in August 2014 appar­ently fight­ing with ISIS.
  • Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain of Cal­i­for­nia: Killed in Syria in August 2014, appar­ently fight­ing with ISIS.
  • Don­ald Ray Mor­gan of North Car­olina: Arrested in August 2014 on firearm charges; believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Adam Dan­dach of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in July 2014 on pass­port fraud charges; believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas: Arrested in June 2014 for attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Moner Abu-Salha of Florida: Killed in a sui­cide attack he car­ried out in May 2014 on behalf of Jab­hat al Nusra.

    moner-abu-salha-nusra

    Moner Abu-Salha of Florida joined Jab­hat al Nusra

  • Shan­non Mau­reen Con­ley of Col­orado: Arrested in April 2014 for attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Mohammed Has­san Ham­dan of Michi­gan: Arrested in March 2014 for attempt­ing to join Hezbol­lah in Syria.
  • Nicholas Teau­sant of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in March 2014 for attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Basit Javed Sheikh of North Car­olina: Arrested Novem­ber 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Mar­cos Alonso Zea of New York: Arrested in Octo­ber 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.
  • Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in Octo­ber 2013 for attempt­ing to join Al Qaeda. Nguyen had pre­vi­ously fought in Syria.
  • Amir Farouq Ibrahim, of Penn­syl­va­nia: Assumed dead in July 2013 and believed to have fought with ISIS.
  • Justin Kaliebe of New York: Arrested in June 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.
  • Nicole Mans­field of Michi­gan: Killed in May 2013, report­edly fight­ing with Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Illinios: Arrested in April 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Eric Har­roun of Ari­zona: Arrested in March 2013 for trav­el­ing to Syria to fight with Jab­hat al Nusra. He pleaded guilty to non-terror-related charges in Sep­tem­ber, 2013, and was sen­tenced to time served. That Har­roun fought in Syria is uncon­tested; how­ever, reports dif­fer as to whether he fought with Jab­hat al Nusra or with the Syr­ian Free Army, which is not con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist organization.
  • Matthew Aaron Llaneza of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in Feb­ru­ary 2013 for attempted domes­tic ter­ror­ism and plans to travel to join the Tal­iban in Afghanistan.
  • Shel­ton Thomas Bell of Florida: Arrested in Jan­u­ary 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.

In addi­tion to those indi­vid­u­als above, two appar­ent Amer­i­cans have been fea­tured in pro­pa­ganda videos from Syria, although their iden­ti­ties have not been fully verified:

  • A man called Abu Abdu­rah­man al-Trinidadi, allegedly Amer­i­can of Trinida­dian ori­gin, fea­tured sup­port­ing ISIS in a video released in August 2014.
  • A man called Abu Dujana al-Amriki, allegedly Amer­i­can, fea­tured sup­port­ing ISIS in a video released Novem­ber 2013.

Yet another Amer­i­can has been iden­ti­fied as fight­ing with ISIS because of his death in a Syr­ian airstrike in Sep­tem­ber 2014. Fur­ther infor­ma­tion about that indi­vid­ual has not yet been released.

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