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October 8, 2014

Chicago Arrest Provides Example Of An American’s Detailed Plan To Join ISIS

The arrest of a Chicago man for allegedly attempting to join Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demonstrates the extent to which Americans attempting to join terror groups abroad are able to communicate with foreign contacts and formulate their travel plans.mohammed-khan-isis

Mohamed Hamzah Khan, 19, was arrested Sunday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Turkey.

While many of the Americans arrested for attempting to join terrorist organizations in the past two years – including fellow Chicagoan Abdella Tounisi – have not necessarily had a well-formulated plan, Khan’s case represents an example of an individual whose efforts seem to have been informed, if not directed, by members of the terrorist group itself.

In a notebook found in his home, Khan allegedly had drawn maps of the Syria-Turkish border, with arrows showing possible crossings. He also allegedly listed steps to take, including an itinerary for a trip by bus in Turkey that would get him to that border. His knowledge of what to do in order to join ISIS likely came from online sources. According to the criminal complaint, he had received phone numbers for contact people in Syria from an individual he was allegedly in touch with online. Khan had reportedly bought a round-trip ticket to Turkey, possibly to avert suspicion.

The search of Khan’s home also allegedly uncovered an ideological affinity for ISIS. Police reportedly found a farewell note in which Khan had written, “We are all witness that the western societies are getting more immoral day by day. I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this,” and urging his parents to join him in Syria. According to the criminal complaint filed in his case, authorities also found a notebook in his home with a drawing of a fighter with an ISIS flag and the words “Come to Jihad” written in Arabic.

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September 24, 2014

ISIS Spokesman Blames Jews For Conflict & Calls For Lone-Wolf Attacks

A speech issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s primary spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani on Sunday calls for attacks against western civilians and soldiers worldwide and blames Jews for the international opposition the terrorist group is facing.isis-obama-jews

Highlighting the role that anti-Semitism continues to play in terrorist propaganda and ideology, in his speech Adnani suggests that Jews are the only reason ISIS is being confronted by U.S. military: “The jews! (sic) The jews! Save the jews! This is the reason they [the U.S.] came.” Adnani also calls President Obama a “mule of the Jews,” a statement that was further popularized by ISIS supporters on Twitter using the hashtag #Obamamulejews.

Adnani similarly claims that Arab countries including Egypt and Syria exist as “guard dogs of the jews (sic)” ensuring Israel’s security against their best interests.

Addressing ISIS supporters worldwide, Adnani calls for lone wolf attacks against civilians: “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the…French – or an Australian, or a Canadian…kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military…”

He goes on to provide examples of how this may be done:

“If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of his allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him…. If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops.”

Some of these suggestions, including the use of cars for attacks, have previously been featured in Inspire Magazine, an English-language terrorist propaganda magazine produced by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

This call for attacks has already been answered. On Monday, an Algeria-based extremist group aligned with ISIS called Jund al-Khilafah kidnapped a French national, releasing a video warning that France has 24 hours to stop its air attacks or he will be murdered. A portion of the speech was quoted in the video.

The speech was shared via Twitter in three languages: English, French and Hebrew. The English and French languages were likely chosen because the U.S. and France have been the two western countries to undertake airstrikes against ISIS. The Hebrew may reflect ISIS’s views, reinforced by the speech, that Jews and Israel are also primary enemies of the group. It also reinforces allegations in the speech that the U.S. and France are acting on behalf of Jews and Israel. This may be the first ISIS speech that was initially released in Hebrew.

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September 5, 2014

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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