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February 24, 2015 2

Al Shabaab Video Threatens Jewish and Western Targets

The video calls for attacks on "Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centers"

The video calls for attacks on “Jewish-owned West­field shop­ping cen­ters” and other shop­ping cen­ters in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

A new video released by Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda’s affil­i­ate in Soma­lia, that encour­ages attacks against “Amer­i­can and Jewish-owned shop­ping cen­ters around the world,” high­lights the role of anti-Semitism in ter­ror­ist narrative.

The video focused on Al Shabaab’s Sep­tem­ber 2013 siege of the West­gate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which lasted for three days and resulted in at least 67 fatal­i­ties. At the time of the attack, Al Shabaab claimed to have tar­geted that mall because it had “Jew­ish and Amer­i­can owned” shops. The new video affirmed Al Shabaab’s inter­est in Jew­ish targets.

Its release comes as other ter­ror­ist groups, includ­ing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, have issued calls for home­grown attacks in the West as they vie against each other for power and followers.

“West­gate shop­ping mall…is a four-story Israeli-owned com­plex,” the video’s nar­ra­tor stated, and in response to the attack, “Israeli secu­rity spe­cial­ists and FBI teams were…on the ground.” The video also put the nation­al­ity “Israeli” first in a list of nation­al­i­ties of the deceased.

Show­cas­ing the 2013 attack enables Al Shabaab to show off its accom­plish­ments to poten­tial new recruits, but the group also appar­ently hopes it may inspire copy­cat attacks. Address­ing West­ern sym­pa­thiz­ers, the nar­ra­tor stated, “We call upon our Mus­lim broth­ers, par­tic­u­larly those in the West…. imag­ine what a ded­i­cated mujahid (fighter) in the West could do to the Amer­i­can and Jewish-owned shop­ping cen­ters across the world.”

It then went on to issue more spe­cific threats: “What if such an attack was to call in the Mall of Amer­ica in Min­nesota, or the West Edmon­ton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street, or any of the hun­dred or so Jewish-owned West­field shop­ping cen­ters dot­ted right across the West­ern world…”

Although Al Shabaab has not staged any sig­nif­i­cant attack out­side East­ern Africa, it has posed a sig­nif­i­cant threat to U.S. secu­rity. At least 50 U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been charged with pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to the group or are believed to have joined it. Some of those cit­i­zens are now actively recruit­ing U.S. cit­i­zens to join ISIS and other ter­ror­ist organizations.

Another recent Al Shabaab video, released in May 2014, called for lone wolf attacks in the West.

Anti-Semitism is at the core of Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy, and ter­ror­ist groups includ­ing Al Shabaab reg­u­larly use anti-Semitism to attract and rad­i­cal­ize poten­tial recruits. In the past, Al Shabaab declared an “open bat­tle” against Israel, which it called the “oppress­ing Zion­ist entity,” and against Jew­ish inter­ests in Africa. In an English-language mag­a­zine released in 2012, the group called Jews, “the worst enemy of Islam.”

The new video also high­lighted the impor­tance of social media as a vehi­cle for dis­sem­i­nat­ing ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda, claim­ing that “HSM Press (the Al Shabaab Twit­ter feed) soon became the most cred­i­ble source of infor­ma­tion on the attack,” and noted that Al Shabaab had live-streamed the attack on Twit­ter. The video itself was cir­cu­lated on YouTube and on links from Twit­ter to file-sharing sites.

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February 17, 2015 1

New ADL Report: Homegrown Islamic Extremism In 2014

homegrown-terrorism-isis-imageThe rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its increas­ingly sophis­ti­cated social media com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment strate­gies influ­enced a diverse group of peo­ple from around the world, includ­ing from the United States, through­out 2014.

The ADL’s new report, Home­grown Islamic Extrem­ism in 2014: The Rise of ISIS and Sus­tained Online Rad­i­cal­iza­tion, presents key find­ings and trends that result from ISIS’s increas­ing reach, and its ram­i­fi­ca­tions on domes­tic security.

The report describes how at least 17 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents moti­vated by the ide­ol­ogy prop­a­gated by ISIS and other Islamic ter­ror­ist groups over­seas were charged in 2014 with terror-related offenses.

Three oth­ers were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing died while fight­ing with ter­ror­ist groups abroad and an addi­tional five minors are believed to have attempted to join such groups but were not charged. Of these 25, nearly all engaged to some degree with online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda and 19 are believed to have attempted to join or aid ISIS.

These indi­vid­u­als range in age from 15 to 44, with 11 in their twen­ties and 7 in their teens. At least one quar­ter were con­verts to Islam. 32% were women.

The report also draws on find­ings from pre­vi­ous years, not­ing for exam­ple that res­i­dents from 20 states have been charged in con­nec­tion with Islamic extrem­ism since 2012.

In addi­tion, the report describes the new phe­nom­e­non of crim­i­nal acts that have not been defined by author­i­ties as ter­ror­ism but that have been influ­enced by ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda – includ­ing mur­ders in New Jer­sey and Okla­homa and an attempted mur­der in New York in 2014.

Finally, it ana­lyzes cur­rent ter­ror­ist nar­ra­tives and recruit­ing tech­niques, includ­ing their use of social media to attract increas­ing num­bers of fol­low­ers and the way anti-Semitism is used to moti­vate recruits.

The full report is avail­able on the ADL web­site.

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February 13, 2015 0

A French Leader Speaks for His Nation’s Jews and His Nation

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

The hor­rific ter­ror­ism that took place in Paris at the offices of Char­lie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher mar­ket last month still res­onates with all of us.

When we real­ize that Ahmed Coulibaly delib­er­ately chose to attack a small and vul­ner­a­ble unguarded kosher mar­ket on a Fri­day after­noon just before the Sab­bath as his tar­get to take Jew­ish hostages, we are eerily drawn to con­tem­plate ques­tions such as: Do Jews Have a Future in France? Is it hap­pen­ing all over again in Europe? What is the rela­tion­ship between the old and the new anti-Semitism? How can this evil best be com­bat­ted, in all its forms, and hope and lib­erty restored?

As the events at the kosher mar­ket unfolded, I couldn’t help but remind myself of Pas­tor Mar­tin Niemoller’s now famous com­ments as Nazi Germany’s ter­ror spread: “First, they came for the social­ists, and I did not speak out because I was not a social­ist. Then they came for the trade union­ists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade union­ist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The real­ity is that, since 1980, 17 French Jews have been mur­dered by vio­lent ter­ror­ists and the wave of attacks on Jews in France has inten­si­fied dur­ing the past ten years. Each and every one is an abom­i­na­tion, and we have always said that they are not only a threat to Jew­ish life in France, but to France itself.

This con­nec­tion between anti-Semitism and threats to demo­c­ra­tic life has a long and tragic his­tory. Unfor­tu­nately, it all too often takes ter­ri­ble events such as what recently occurred in Paris to wake peo­ple up to that real­ity. One can’t help but won­der, then, just how much the world has really learned from Niemoller’s reflection.

For­tu­nately, the Prime Min­is­ter of France, Manuel Valls, gets it more than most. In a recent inter­view with The Atlantic, Valls stated that “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Repub­lic will be judged a failure.”

In a dra­matic speech before the National Assem­bly, he went on to rein­force that truth:

“With­out its Jews France would not be France, this is the mes­sage we have to com­mu­ni­cate loud and clear. We haven’t done so. We haven’t shown enough out­rage. How can we accept that in cer­tain schools and col­leges the Holo­caust can’t be taught? How can we accept that when a child is asked ‘Who is your enemy,’ the response is ‘the Jew?’ When the Jews of France are attacked France is attacked, the con­science of human­ity is attacked. Let us never for­get it.”

Why the reluc­tance of many demo­c­ra­tic soci­eties, in Europe and beyond, to rec­og­nize that anti-Semitism is the canary in the coal mine, alert­ing them to the exis­ten­tial threat they face? Why does Prime Min­is­ter Valls seem more like an excep­tion than like the rule, espe­cially when he bluntly and truth­fully sources the present threat as com­ing mainly from “ter­ror­ism and rad­i­cal Islam,” as he told the French peo­ple just days after the attacks?

Partly, this hes­i­ta­tion comes out of a desire to live with illu­sions, to con­vince our­selves that things are not so bad. “Attacks on Jews are one thing, but that doesn’t mean that we all are at risk.” And, partly, it’s a rem­nant of the deeply embed­ded stereo­types about Jews that held sway for cen­turies: the Jews are the ‘other’ and the Jews “bring their vic­tim­hood upon themselves.”

This is a time for all of us to stand firmly with the Jew­ish com­mu­nity of France; rather than telling them what they should do, urg­ing them to leave or stay, we should reas­sure them that there is Jew­ish sol­i­dar­ity, that Israel and the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­nity will do all we can to assure their safety and security.

The sim­ple, yet pro­found, act of thank­ing Prime Min­is­ter Valls for speak­ing up, for not wait­ing until they come for the non-Jews of France before tak­ing an unequiv­o­cal stand for decency and democ­racy, plays no small part in that effort.

We hope our thanks, and yours, will rein­force the resolve of France’s lead­ers and its peo­ple to take the steps nec­es­sary to ensure a safe, secure and vibrant Jew­ish life for the Jews of France.

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