terrorism update » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘terrorism update’
January 16, 2015 1

Ohio Arrest In First Domestic Attack Plot Since 2013

Christopher Lee Cornell

Christo­pher Lee Cornell

Wednesday’s arrest of Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell, a 20-year-old U.S. cit­i­zen from Ohio, marked the first domes­tic ter­ror related arrest of 2015 and the first inci­dent of an attempted domes­tic ter­ror attack since 2013.

Cor­nell is accused of attempt­ing to attack the U.S. Capi­tol build­ing by plant­ing and det­o­nat­ing pipe bombs at and near the build­ing and then using a semi-automatic rifle to increase casu­alty counts. The plot was the first since Decem­ber 2013, when Kansas res­i­dent Terry Lee Loewen allegedly attempted to bomb the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.

Cornell’s alleged plot comes at a time of increas­ing calls for vio­lence and home­grown extrem­ism by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS), as well as the con­tin­ued influ­ence of Al Qaeda pro­pa­gan­dists includ­ing Anwar al-Awlaki and the power of social media in the mod­ern rad­i­cal­iza­tion process.  Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011, was an English-language spokesman for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP).

Cor­nell was report­edly hop­ing to under­take his attack as a way to sup­port ISIS. This fits with cur­rent trends in extrem­ism: The vast major­ity of the iden­ti­fied Amer­i­cans known to have engaged with extrem­ism in 2014 sought to join or aid ISIS.

Cor­nell, who used the alias Raheel Mahrus Ubay­dah, Tweeted ISIS pro­pa­ganda and Awlaki quotes and appar­ently found jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for his alleged plot in the pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als he accessed from ISIS and Anwar al-Awlaki.

Although ISIS lead­er­ship is cur­rently at odds with Al Qaeda lead­er­ship, the group still cites Awlaki as an ide­o­log­i­cal leader. It is not uncom­mon for appar­ent ter­ror­ist sup­ports online to share mate­ri­als from both includ­ing ISIS and AQAP despite fight­ing between the groups’ leadership.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Cor­nell claimed to have con­tacted mem­bers of ISIS in hopes that they would assist him in his efforts to attack the U.S. He also watched extrem­ist videos and used his com­puter to research bomb mak­ing instruc­tions and infor­ma­tion about how to pur­chase firearms, and he com­mu­ni­cated with an under­cover infor­mant he believed to be a co-conspirator using instant mes­sag­ing ser­vices. He told the infor­mant “I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks,” accord­ing to court documents.

Some of his appar­ent Tweets indi­cated sup­port for lone wolf attacks, includ­ing one that praised attacks in Canada by Mar­tin Rouleau Cou­ture and Michael Zehaf Bibeau stat­ing, “May Allah reward the broth­ers who fought and received Sha­hada (mar­tyr­dom) in Canada! May these recent attacks send ter­ror into the hearts of the kufr (disbelievers)!

Accord­ing to fam­ily mem­bers, Cor­nell had con­verted to Islam less than a year prior to his arrest.

Accord­ing to FBI Direc­tor James Comey, the FBI is cur­rently track­ing nearly 150 Amer­i­cans who trav­eled to Syria, “a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber” of whom went there to fight. Other reports have indi­cated that close to 90 addi­tional Amer­i­cans are believed to have died fight­ing or attempted to travel abroad to join extrem­ist groups but failed.

17 of the 22 indi­vid­u­als who have been pub­licly iden­ti­fied as engag­ing in ter­ror­ism in 2014 sought to join or aid ISIS.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 13, 2015 0

New ISIS Threat Campaign Capitalizes on Paris Attacks

Image from Twitter campaign

Image from Twit­ter campaign

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has launched a new cam­paign on Twit­ter call­ing for addi­tional home­grown attacks in West­ern coun­tries in the after­math of the attacks in Paris last week that killed 17.

The cam­paign, adver­tised with the hash­tag #Fight­forHim was espe­cially promi­nent on Twit­ter on Sun­day, when both offi­cial ISIS accounts and mul­ti­ple sup­porter accounts Tweeted images fea­tur­ing mes­sages to Mus­lims “liv­ing in the West” and quotes by Anwar al-Awlaki advo­cat­ing “the duty of killing those who insult our Prophet Muhammad.”

Awlaki was an Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula. He was killed in a drone strike in 2011 but his writ­ings and say­ings con­tinue to be a moti­va­tional force for extrem­ists, includ­ing the Kouachi broth­ers, who are believed to have been two of the three indi­vid­u­als who attacked the Char­lie Hebdo offices last week, and Amedy Coulibaly, believed to be one of the two indi­vid­u­als behind last week’s hostage inci­dent in a kosher gro­cery store in Paris.

At the same time, ISIS sup­port­ers are also con­tin­u­ing a cam­paign of hack­ing Jew­ish insti­tu­tional web­sites and, increas­ingly, sites that are affil­i­ated with gov­ern­ments, mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions, and other orga­ni­za­tions, replac­ing the orig­i­nal text on the site with anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist mes­sages. Mon­day after­noon, ISIS sup­port­ers claimed respon­si­bil­ity for hack­ing the social media accounts affil­i­ated with U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand.

One of the Tweets from the #Fight­forHim cam­paign fea­tures a red ban­ner image with the quote, “You are a Mus­lim? Liv­ing in the West? Being a city wolf is your task! For you are the only ones to do so! You are already ’cit­i­zens’, and no doubt you are the suit­able ones to be cho­sen for such a task. You are shar­ing the same land with them! The same busses and trains, the same neighborhoods!”

Sev­eral Tweets also fea­tured what appeared to be pages ready for inser­tion into an English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine that quoted Anwar al-Awlaki nar­rat­ing a story about a “Jew­ish leader and…very elo­quent poet” who wrote poems that spoke out against Muham­mad, after which he was killed. In the story, Muham­mad stated, “I am the Prophet of mercy and I am the prophet of war” and “he has harmed us and he has defamed us with his poetry, and none of you (Jews) would do this except we would deal with him with the sword!”

Image from Twitter campaign showing Anwar al-Awlaki

Image from Twit­ter cam­paign show­ing Anwar al-Awlaki

The three pages that make up this story are titled Char­lie, ref­er­enc­ing the mag­a­zine. In its sub­ject mat­ter, the story also can be read as sup­port­ing attacks on Jews more broadly.

These images and oth­ers were Tweeted directly from mul­ti­ple indi­vid­ual Twit­ter accounts. This may indi­cate that they were part of a coor­di­nated cam­paign run through the Dawn of Glad Tid­ings app, a Twit­ter appli­ca­tion that allows ISIS to Tweet directly onto users’ pages, thus rapidly and widely dis­sem­i­nat­ing pro­pa­ganda and enabling effec­tive hash­tag cam­paigns. Some of the images were Tweeted from between 80 and 100 accounts in minutes.

The cam­paign was sup­ple­mented by an essay writ­ten by an ISIS sup­porter that urged attacks in West­ern coun­tries and pro­vided sug­ges­tions for car­ry­ing them out.

The essay cites Inspire mag­a­zine, Anwar al-Awlaki, Osama bin Laden and ISIS as sources for inspi­ra­tion and lists mul­ti­ple cities, states, and coun­tries that can be attacked, includ­ing mul­ti­ple loca­tions in the U.S.

“Until life in Nor­way, Florida, Mon­treal, Fin­land, Lis­bon, Lux­em­bourg and Can­berra becomes…a land that burns, a sky that rains rock­ets, and cities through which wolves walk, the lions of jihad, and where breaths are con­ceal (sic) until they taste our sever­ity” it states. The essay later threat­ens addi­tional attacks includ­ing San Fran­cisco, Bel­gium, Lon­don, Madrid, Syd­ney, Rus­sia, Boston, Dal­las, Vir­ginia and Ams­ter­dam with explo­sive devices, booby traps and poison.

This essay was picked up and cir­cu­lated by offi­cial ISIS media out­lets fol­low­ing its post­ing on Justpate.it, an online pub­lish­ing site reg­u­larly used by ter­ror­ist sup­port­ers to quickly and anony­mously post text and images online.

Although the #fight­forHim hash­tag is new, calls by ter­ror­ist groups for home­grown attacks have a lengthy his­tory. In the past year, ISIS, Al Qaeda, AQAP and Al Shabaab have all called for such attacks. In the wake of the attacks in France, addi­tional groups includ­ing the Pak­istani Tal­iban, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Moura­bitoun have also called for copy­cat attacks.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

December 24, 2014 1

13th Issue of AQAP Inspire Calls for Attacks Against U.S. Airliners

AQAP-Inspire-13-magazine-cover

Inspire 13 cover image

Update: 12/24/2013 — Fol­low­ing noti­fi­ca­tion by the ADL, YouTube has removed the video pro­mot­ing Inspire 13 from its site.

The 13th issue of Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine, released on Decem­ber 24, lays out a strat­egy for defeat­ing the U.S. by attack­ing Amer­i­can mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy, man­power, media and econ­omy, and encour­ages lone wolf attacks against com­mer­cial air­planes and finan­cial figures.

The cen­tral fea­ture of the mag­a­zine, enti­tled “The Hid­den Bomb” presents step-by-step, illus­trated instruc­tions for con­struct­ing a home-made eas­ily portable bomb inside 17cm of a plas­tic water bot­tle case.  These instruc­tions fol­low pre­vi­ous issues of Inspire that included instruc­tions for pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs, as well as sug­ges­tions for other types of attacks such as run­ning civil­ians over with cars.

This issue of Inspire sug­gests that the bombs be used against U.S. com­mer­cial air­lin­ers – specif­i­cally Amer­i­can Air­lines, Delta, United or Con­ti­nen­tal, and ide­ally over U.S. soil. It also pro­vides advice as to the best loca­tion on the plane and alti­tude at which to det­o­nate the device.

If an attack on a U.S. air­liner is not fea­si­ble, the mag­a­zine sug­gests attack­ing British com­pa­nies British Air­ways or Easy Jet, or French com­pa­nies Air­France or Air­France KL. A dif­fer­ent arti­cle fur­ther clar­i­fies the pri­or­i­ties of attack, stat­ing that, “the first pri­or­ity and the main focus should be on Amer­ica, then the United King­dom, then France…. This goes on with the NATO coun­tries as per the known order.”

The guide claims that this bomb can be hid­den in a part of the body not included in air­port pat-downs and is unde­tectable by dogs, odor-detecting machines, or metal detec­tors. The arti­cle states that the bomb is detectable by mil­lime­ter wave scan­ners, but the mag­a­zine advises that “in most cases they are not used in local airports.”

Inspire 13 also encour­ages assas­si­na­tions of Amer­i­can finan­cial lead­ers listed as “eco­nomic per­son­al­i­ties” such as Ben Bernanke or “wealthy entre­pre­neurs” such as Bill Gates. It advises that if those per­son­al­i­ties remove their money from U.S. banks, stop invest­ing in the U.S., and declare that they dis­agree with Amer­i­can poli­cies, they will not be targeted.

The mag­a­zine also includes sev­eral sec­tions high­light­ing the actions of Al Qaeda mem­bers and indi­vid­u­als that it claims under­took vio­lent actions on behalf of the extrem­ist cause. These include Alton Nolan of Okla­homa, Michael Zehaf Bebeau of Que­bec, Mar­tin Rouleau-Couture of Ottowa, Zale Thomp­son of New York and Man Haron Monis of Aus­tralia – the major­ity of whom seem to have under­taken attacks through some com­bi­na­tion of per­sonal vio­lent ten­den­cies and encour­age­ment from ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda  but have not been asso­ci­ated with ter­ror­ist movements.

Image from the magazine advocating lone wolf attacks

Image from the mag­a­zine advo­cat­ing lone wolf attacks

“The Lions of Allah who are all over the globe – some call them lone wolves – should know that they are the West’s worst night­mare,” states one article.

In some sec­tions, it attempts to exploit con­tro­ver­sial issues in the U.S. as ratio­nales for join­ing ter­ror­ist move­ments. For exam­ple, a short quote states, “If I am an Afro-American liv­ing in Fer­gu­son – I’d rather be labeled a ter­ror­ist.” One arti­cle pre­sented as an inter­view with an AQAP mem­ber states U.S. tor­ture of Mus­lim pris­on­ers as a rea­son to attack the U.S.

The major­ity of jus­ti­fi­ca­tions pre­sented for attack­ing the U.S., how­ever, have been uti­lized by Al Qaeda and its affil­i­ates since the group’s found­ing: Attacks should be under­taken because of alleged Amer­i­can sup­port for cur­rent regimes in Mus­lim coun­tries;; sup­port for the Russ­ian and Indian gov­ern­ments in their fights against ter­ror­ism; and hav­ing “sur­ren­dered to the Jews” in sup­port­ing the State of Israel.

Like other issues of Inspire, it also attempts to draw read­ers in by ask­ing provoca­tive ques­tions and mak­ing the attack sound sim­ple. “It’s not nec­es­sary to do what Mohammed Atta (of the 9/11 attack) did,” notes a poem in the mag­a­zine, “it’s enough to do what Nidal Hasan (of the Fort Hood shoot­ing) did.”

Other sec­tions of the mag­a­zine include an essay com­mem­o­rat­ing Tamer­lan Tsar­naev of the Boston Marathon Bomb­ing, quotes about Inspire by Amer­i­can aca­d­e­mics and gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and a “Mes­sage for the Amer­i­can Peo­ple Regard­ing the Killing of Luke Somers,” the Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist taken hostage by AQAP and killed dur­ing a res­cue mis­sion ear­lier this month.

This edi­tion of Inspire was released together with a pro­mo­tional video that fea­tured images from the mag­a­zine to the back­drop of a song in Eng­lish that included the lyrics, “The bat­tle for the hearts and minds will con­tinue till the kuf­far (apos­tates or dis­be­liev­ers) in vice,” “Inspir­ing the believ­ers to jihad has become the newest fad,” and, “Amer­ica you are being watched…the mujahideen (reli­gious fight­ers) are com­ing for you.”

Inspire is per­haps the most noto­ri­ous Al Qaeda pro­pa­ganda vehi­cle. It has played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of mul­ti­ple domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers (of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing), Jose Pimentel (attempted bomb­ing in NYC) and Abdel Daoud (attempted bomb­ing in Chicago).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,