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August 29, 2014 0

ISIS Succeeds Al Shaabab as Foremost Recruiter of American Militants

Con­fir­ma­tion by U.S. offi­cials that two Amer­i­can men with links to Min­nesota were killed this past week­end in Syria while fight­ing for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) serves as the lat­est indi­ca­tion that ISIS has replaced Al Shabaab in Soma­lia as the ter­ror­ist des­ti­na­tion of choice for Amer­i­can mil­i­tants. 

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Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed

As the num­ber of Amer­i­cans join­ing Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Soma­lia, has steadily decreased over the past few years (more than 60 U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dentshave trav­eled to or attempted to aid or joinAl Shabaab since 2007, Amer­i­cans trav­el­ing to or attempted to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS or fight with other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in the region has increased.

Over 100 Amer­i­cans are believed to have trav­eled to Syria and Iraq to join the fight­ing over­all. In 2013 and 2014, 13 Amer­i­cans have been arrested for trav­el­ling or attempt­ing to travel to the region to join ISIS, Jab­hat al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) or other ter­ror­ist groups.

Six oth­ers have report­edly been killed, includ­ing Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed, the 29-year-old Somali-American from Min­nesota killed this past week­end with Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain from San Diego/Minnesota, Moner Abu Salha from Florida, Nicole Mans­field from Michi­gan, Amir Farouk Ibrahim of Penn­syl­va­nia, and a man using the pseu­do­nym Abu Dujana Al-Amriki, whose back­ground is unclear.

Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed was appar­ently one of 15 Somali Amer­i­cans from Min­nesota under inves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI for trav­el­ling to Syria. ISIS has report­edly sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to recruit from the Twin Cities, alarm­ing com­mu­nity leaders.

Muhumed and McCain report­edly inter­acted on social media before their deaths; McCain allegedly wrote on Muhamed’s Face­book wall, telling him to “con­tinue pro­tect­ing our broth­ers and sis­ters.” McCain was also friends with at least one other indi­vid­ual who appar­ently trav­eled abroad to joina ter­ror­ist organization.

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Troy Kasti­gar

McCain’s appar­ent high school friend, Troy Kasti­gar, became a mem­ber of Al Shabaab and was fea­tured in an English-language pro­pa­ganda video called “The Path to Par­adise,” in which he encour­aged Amer­i­cans to join the ter­ror group. “This is the best place to be,” said Kasti­gar in the video, “This is the real Dis­ney­land and you should come here and join us, take plea­sure in this fun…. Come here and join us so that we can die for the sake of Allah.”

Mohamed Abdul­lahi Has­san, who was indicted on ter­ror­ism charges in 2008 for join­ing Al Shabaab, was also an appar­ent friend of McCain’s. Hassan’s state­ments on Twit­ter after McCain’s death included, “The Hard­est thing in Jihad is when a brother u (sic) love is granted Sha­hadah [mar­tyr­dom]. Today im (sic) expe­ri­enc­ing those feel­ings. May Allah accept @iamthetooth [McCain].”

Has­san, who is believed to still be a mem­ber of Al Shabaab in Soma­lia, has encour­aged other extrem­ists to con­sider join­ing ISIS. In one response on Ask.FM, he wrote, “Fight­ing Jihad in other Jihadi fronts is good. I’m not say­ing you shouldn’t, but I rec­om­mend Sham [Syria] because our prophet pbuh [peace be upon him] rec­om­mended sham so i’ll (sic) go with that.”

Al Shabaab itself appears to have taken a sim­i­lar strat­egy of encour­ag­ing travel to any ter­ror front. In the sixth install­ment of its English-language video series Mujahideen Moments, released August 27, an appar­ent Al Shabaab mil­i­tant called on “Mus­lims, those that are liv­ing the U.S., espe­cially in Min­nesota, and Great Britain, Ger­many, and many parts of the kuf­far [apos­tate] world” to travel abroad to join the fight in ter­ror­ist con­flict zones includ­ing Soma­lia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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August 20, 2014 0

Americans Respond To ISIS Recruitment

Update– 8/27/14: Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain of San Diego, died while fight­ing with ISIS in Syria in August 2014.

Even as it fights on a num­ber of fronts in the Mid­dle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al Qaeda-inspired ter­ror­ist group that claims sov­er­eignty in sec­tions of Syria and Iraq, con­tin­ues to recruit west­ern­ers through its sophis­ti­cated online pro­pa­ganda cam­paign.al-hayat-ad-propaganda

Some Amer­i­cans are heed­ing the call.

In 2014, five of the six Amer­i­cans arrested in the U.S. for attempt­ing to join the con­flict in Syria and Iraq were accused of attempt­ing to join ISIS: Don­ald Ray Mor­gan of North Car­olina in August (arrested on weapons charges but believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS); Shan­non Mau­reen Con­ley of Col­orado in July; Adam Dandich of Cal­i­for­nia in July (charged with pass­port fraud but believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS); Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas in June; and Nicholas Teau­sant of Cal­i­for­nia in March. The sixth, Mohammed Has­san Ham­dan of Michi­gan, allegedly attempted to fight in Syria with Hezbol­lah.

Fur­ther­more, In June the FBI said it launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into 15 Somali Amer­i­cans from Min­nesota believed to have joined ISIS.

At least two other Amer­i­cans have appeared in videos released by ISIS and Jab­hat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Syria.A video released in August 2014 fea­tured an alleged Amer­i­can national called Abu Abdu­rah­man al-Trinidadi encour­ag­ing oth­ers to join ISIS. And in May, Moner Abu Salha of Florida was iden­ti­fied in a Jab­hat al-Nusra video as hav­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in a sui­cide attack.

U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials esti­mate that over 100 Amer­i­can nation­als have trav­elled to join the con­flict in Syria, a con­flict that has since spread to Iraq.

The effect of ISIS’ increased strength and noto­ri­ety, as well as its advanced online recruit­ment strate­gies, appear to be hav­ing an effect. Of the seven known Amer­i­cans who either trav­eled to or attempted to travel to Syria to fight with mil­i­tants last year, only one was believed to have fought with ISIS; a video released online in Novem­ber 2013 fea­tured an appar­ent Amer­i­can called Abu Dujana al-Amriki, prais­ing ISIS.

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August 20, 2014 0

ISIS Backs Up Threats Against U.S. With Beheading

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Al Qaeda inspired ter­ror­ist group, released an English-language video in which it depicts the behead­ing of a kid­napped Amer­i­can journalist.foley-beheading-terrorism-isis

ISIS is claim­ing that it mur­dered the jour­nal­ist, James Wright Foley, because of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The video closes with an image of another kid­napped jour­nal­ist kneel­ing next to what appears to be the same exe­cu­tioner, who states “The life of this Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”

The video is titled “A Mes­sage to Amer­ica.” It marks a new approach by ISIS, mak­ing good on threats against Amer­i­cans that the group only began cir­cu­lat­ing sig­nif­i­cantly this June. Such strate­gies have been used exten­sively by the ter­ror­ist group to intim­i­date ene­mies and oppo­nents on the ground, but had not pre­vi­ously been employed against Westerners.

In the video, footage of Pres­i­dent Obama announc­ing the airstrike cam­paign is fol­lowed by a state­ment by Foley in which he asserts U.S. actions are the cause of his death. Foley’s masked exe­cu­tioner then deliv­ers an address in British-accented Eng­lish in which he depicts the U.S. as an aggres­sor against ISIS and the Mus­lims who accept ISIS as a state, and says that any mil­i­tary action against ISIS will lead to more “blood­shed” of Amer­i­cans. The exe­cu­tioner then beheads Foley. After­ward, the other kid­napped jour­nal­ist is shown next to the executioner.

The release may improve ISIS’s recruit­ment capac­ity. ISIS broke with Al Qaeda Cen­tral in Feb­ru­ary, and the orga­ni­za­tions com­pete for recruits, fol­low­ers and influ­ence. ISIS’s rep­u­ta­tion for vio­lent action sur­pass­ing Al Qaeda’s has already con­tributed to its recruit­ment efforts, and if this video is seen by extrem­ists as a suc­cess­ful blow to the U.S. it may lead more to join ISIS.

The video was announced on Twit­ter and on the social media site Dias­pora on August 19, and was linked from the Inter­net Archive web­site, an online “dig­i­tal library” that is some­times used by ter­ror­ist groups as a repos­i­tory for online media storage.

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