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May 4, 2015 1

Alleged Garland Shooter Indicated His Intent Online

Elton Simpson

Elton Simp­son

Author­i­ties have iden­ti­fied one of the alleged shoot­ers at the shoot­ing at a Gar­land, Texas, com­mu­nity cen­ter yes­ter­day as Elton Simp­son, a 30-year-old res­i­dent of Phoenix, Ari­zona. He and an accom­plice, iden­ti­fied as 34-year-old Nadir Soofi, who was report­edly Simpson’s room­mate, are the 33rd and 34th Amer­i­cans linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism this year, and their shoot­ing marks the eighth domes­tic ter­ror plot moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2015. These num­bers rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant spike over pre­vi­ous years, and are likely related at least in part to the exten­sive and sophis­ti­cated online pro­pa­ganda cam­paigns pro­moted by ISIS and its supporters.

Simp­son main­tained an active pres­ence on Twit­ter, with at least 8 accounts that he used to net­work with ISIS sup­port­ers and share extrem­ist ideas. Prior to the attack, ADL had been mon­i­tor­ing at least one account believed to be his, under the name “Sharia [Islamic jurispru­dence] is Light.” His pro­file pic­ture was that of Anwar al-Awlaki, an Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, killed in 2011, who is reg­u­larly quoted in ter­ror­ist cir­cles and has been cited as an inspi­ra­tion by many Amer­i­can Islamic extrem­ists. Simp­son used the pro­file to tweet pro­pa­ganda favor­ing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as to share the names of new ISIS sup­porter accounts that replaced accounts pre­vi­ously sus­pended for pro­mot­ing terrorism.

garland-texas-twitter-threat

An ISIS sup­porter encour­aged vio­lence against the event on Twitter

In recent days, ter­ror sup­port­ers on Twit­ter had been call­ing for vio­lence against the event in Texas, which fea­tured anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, as well as a con­test in which par­tic­i­pants were asked to draw car­toons of the Mus­lim prophet Mohamed. One ISIS sup­porter, for exam­ple, tweeted, “Broth­ers in Gar­land Texas Please go to there with your weapons, bombs or with your knives. Threaten your ene­mies & the ene­mies of Allaah,” and, “I think thy forgt the pre­vi­ous attack [against the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine, which printed car­toons about Mohamed] done by our french bros, walahi [indeed] we wil kill u if u dare to insult our Prophet. Fol­low­ing the attack, that same indi­vid­ual tweeted that Simp­son “was favourit­ing my stuff about the Texas event.”

About half an hour before the shoot­ing, Simp­son appeared to claim respon­si­bil­ity on Twit­ter, writ­ing, “The bro with me and myself have given bay’ah [alle­giance] to Amirul Mu’mineen [lit­er­ally ‘Prince of the Believ­ers,’ a ref­er­ence to the Caliph and, in con­text, to the head of ISIS]. May Allah accept us as mujahideen [fight­ers]. Make dua [prayer] #tex­as­at­tack.”

Simpson's claim of responsibility on Twitter

Simpson’s claim of responsibility

ISIS and its sup­port­ers have been vocal in call­ing for home­grown attacks against West­ern  coun­tries and have used the pur­ported defama­tion of Muham­mad as a ratio­nale for vio­lence. Fol­low­ing the Paris attacks against the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine and a kosher super­mar­ket, ISIS sup­port­ers launched a Twit­ter cam­paign with the hash­tag #Fight­forHim, ‘him’ being a ref­er­ence to Muham­mad, advo­cat­ing “the duty of killing those who insult our Prophet Muhammad.”

Simp­son had been under inves­ti­ga­tion for ter­ror­ist activ­ity in the past.  In 2009, he allegedly indi­cated inter­est in Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda affil­i­ate, telling an infor­mant, “It’s time to go to Soma­lia, brother. We know plenty of broth­ers from Soma­lia. We’re going to make it to the bat­tle­field. It’s time to roll.” He was arrested in 2010 and found guilty of mak­ing false state­ments to fed­eral agents, after which he was sen­tenced to three years’ probation.

Since 2014, ISIS has suc­ceeded Al Shabaab as the fore­most recruiter of Amer­i­can mil­i­tants. A num­ber of Amer­i­cans who pre­vi­ously sup­ported Al Shabaab, includ­ing Amer­i­cans who joined Al Shabaab and act as recruiters from abroad, have since become advo­cates for ISIS.

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April 28, 2015 0

U.S. Islamic Extremism Arrests In 2015 Exceed 2014 Numbers

Christopher Lee Cornell, arrested in January 2015

Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell, arrested in Jan­u­ary 2015

Thirty-one indi­vid­u­als liv­ing in the U.S. have been linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy in the first four months of 2015. This sur­passes the total in each of the past two years: 26 indi­vid­u­als  liv­ing in the U.S. were linked to such ter­ror­ism in all of 2014 and 22 in 2013.

ADL has issued a new report that sheds light on the demo­graph­ics of these indi­vid­u­als and may pro­vide con­text for think­ing about the approx­i­mately 180 unknown Amer­i­cans believed to have trav­eled to join the con­flict in Syria and Iraq, an unknown num­ber of whom may have joined ter­ror­ist organizations.

The report details the affil­i­a­tions, plans and aims of U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by the ide­olo­gies of Islamic extremism.

About 81% of the U.S. res­i­dents linked to ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ist ide­olo­gies since 2014 have sup­ported ISIS, influ­enced at least in part by the group’s sophis­ti­cated use of social media com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment, as well as by the high vol­ume of cov­er­age sur­round­ing its activ­ity and the ongo­ing pres­ence of con­flict in Syria and Iraq.

Tairod Pugh, arrested in March 2015

Tairod Pugh, arrested in March 2015

Of those indi­vid­u­als linked to ter­ror­ism in 2015, 16 indi­vid­u­als are believed to have trav­eled or planned to travel to join ter­ror groups abroad, 3 are believed to have attempted to aid other Amer­i­cans in join­ing ISIS, and 7 were attempt­ing to fund ISIS.

Eleven of the indi­vid­u­als were also engaged in domes­tic plots. Five out of the 7 plots dis­cussed were directed against mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions or per­son­nel – long­stand­ing tar­gets for such vio­lence.

The report also exam­ines demo­graphic sta­tis­tics of the indi­vid­u­als, includ­ing age, gen­der, eth­nic­ity and geo­graphic distribution.

The indi­vid­u­als arrested in 2015 range in age from 16 to 47.

At least seven of them, or just under one-quarter, were con­verts to Islam. That per­cent­age is com­pa­ra­ble to the per­cent­age in 2014.

Nine of the 31 indi­vid­u­als had fam­ily mem­bers who have also been impli­cated in Islamic extrem­ist activity.

Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic, arrested in February 2015

Ramiz and Sed­ina Hodzic, arrested in Feb­ru­ary 2015

Five of them were women, result­ing in a total of 14 women linked to Islamic extrem­ism since the start of 2014. Women engag­ing with ter­ror­ist groups is not a new phe­nom­e­non, but these num­bers rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant increase, which may result in part from direct recruit­ment of women by ISIS.

Islamic extrem­ism related arrests in 2015 have taken place in 11 states, includ­ing 6 indi­vid­u­als arrested in New York, 4 each in

Min­nesota and Illi­nois, 3 in Mis­souri and 2 each in Ohio, Cal­i­for­nia and Kansas One Amer­i­can was arrested in Pak­istan but was orig­i­nally from Texas.

The full report is avail­able on the ADL website.

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April 24, 2015 14

Adam Gadahn, American Al Qaeda Spokesman, Reported Dead

Adam GadahnOn Thurs­day, the White House announced that Adam Gadahn, an Amer­i­can spokesman for Al Qaeda, was killed in a Jan­u­ary drone strike. Although less vis­i­ble in recent years, Gadahn was at the fore­front of cre­at­ing English-language ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda – an ini­tia­tive that has evolved into a sophis­ti­cated recruit­ment and rad­i­cal­iza­tion mechanism.

Gadahn’s death comes as English-language pro­pa­ganda released by ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions is influ­enc­ing an ever increas­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans to join extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions. As of this date, thirty-one peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. have been impli­cated in ter­ror­ism moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism in 2015 alone, a sig­nif­i­cant increase from the total num­ber of arrests in 2014 and in 2013.

Later Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dists for Al Qaeda affil­i­ates, such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, founders of Inspire mag­a­zine who were killed in a drone strike in 2011, have become more influ­en­tial than Gadahn in extrem­ist cir­cles. And as online tech­nol­ogy has advanced, groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have dra­mat­i­cally increased the reach and influ­ence of English-language calls to violence.

Gadahn, how­ever, was not only the first Amer­i­can to incite extrem­ism on behalf of Al Qaeda, but pre­sum­ably until his death remained the pri­mary English-language spokesman for Al Qaeda’s Cen­tral organization.

Gadahn’s first pro­pa­ganda piece for Al Qaeda was an audio trans­la­tion of an Osama bin Laden speech. In 2004, he began to appear in videos using the nom de guerre Azzam Al-Amriki and to pro­mote attacks against the U.S.

In the ensu­ing years, he released mul­ti­ple videos that reflected his anti-Semitic and anti-Christian views and were marked by threats against Amer­ica and its allies.

Gadahn also called for lone-wolf attacks. In a 2011 video, he stated, “Amer­ica is absolutely awash with eas­ily obtain­able firearms” and that lis­ten­ers can “go down to a gun show at the local con­ven­tion cen­ter and come away with a fully auto­matic assault rifle with­out a back­ground check and most likely with­out hav­ing to show an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card.”  He con­cluded, “So what are you wait­ing for?”

Gadahn’s most recent video was released in May 2014. Like his pre­vi­ous state­ments, it fea­tured calls for attacks against the U.S. as well as anti-Semitic rhetoric and con­cluded with clips of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, fight­ing in Syria, and ter­ror­ism in Israel, includ­ing a brief video clip of Jews pray­ing at the West­ern Wall, Judaism’s holi­est site, fol­lowed by footage of an explosion.

Gadahn was also fea­tured in an inter­view in the March 2013 issue of Inspire mag­a­zine, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine. In it, he called on his fel­low pro­pa­gan­dists to “make every effort to reach out to Mus­lims both through new media like Face­book and Twit­ter as well as the tra­di­tional broad­cast and print media.” Gadahn also used the inter­view to call for attacks against “Amer­ica and its NATO part­ners, par­tic­u­larly France and Britain.”

Gadahn was born in Ore­gon in 1978 and grew up in Cal­i­for­nia. He con­verted to Islam as a teenager and allegedly grew rad­i­cal­ized shortly there­after. In the late 1990s, Gadahn trav­eled to Pak­istan and joined Al Qaeda.

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