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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 27, 2014 0

American Killed In Syria Tweeted ISIS Propaganda

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McCain named him­self Duale Khalid on Twitter

The death of Amer­i­can cit­i­zen Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain while fight­ing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) this week­end may fur­ther attest to the impact of ISIS’ sophis­ti­cated use of social media and online pro­pa­ganda.

ISIS, an Al Qaeda inspired ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion oper­at­ing in Iraq and Syria, encour­ages its sup­port­ers to share its mes­sages on social media. McCain appears to have responded.

Between May and August 2014, McCain reg­u­larly shared ISIS tweets and pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als. For exam­ple, he retweeted the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of a speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Muham­mad al-Adnani. In June, he shared an image prais­ing mar­tyr­dom with the cap­tion “Shuhada [mar­tyr­dom] in Jan­nah [par­adise] with there (sic) souls in green birds. flying.”

He also tweeted state­ments indi­cat­ing pro-ISIS view­points includ­ing, “If your (sic) a Mus­lim and you vote, please let me know so I can unfol­low and block you” (indi­cated anti-democratic sentiment).

His own tweets may also indi­cate that he had begun think­ing about dying. On May 14, he wrote, “Ya Allah when it’s my time to go have mercy on my soul have mercy on my bros.” On June 9, he Tweeted to an  an alleged ISIS fighter: “I will be join­ing you guys soon.”  Later, he retweeted: “It takes a war­rior to under­stand a war­rior. Pray for ISIS.”

 

Before May, McCain had not been active on Twit­ter for about a year, and before that he did not reg­u­larly tweet about extrem­ist issues.  duale-khalid-twitter-isis-mcain

McCain’s Twit­ter account and Face­book pro­file (he had recently changed his name to “Duale Thaslave­o­fAl­lah” on Face­book) reflected a man with a diverse mix of non-extremist inter­ests. McCain’s “likes” on Face­book included the Chicago Bulls, Pizza Hut and the TV show Chappelle’s Show. He expressed con­sid­er­able inter­est in street fight­ing and ‘liked’ sev­eral pages pro­mot­ing it.

Some “likes” on Face­book also sug­gested some poten­tial inter­est in extrem­ism as well. For exam­ple, he liked the Face­book page belong­ing to Musa Ceran­to­nio, an extrem­ist Aus­tralian preacher who main­tained an active Twit­ter account that posted and trans­lated ISIS pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als until his arrest in the Philip­pines in July 2014. He also liked a page called The Black Flag that ref­er­ences Islamist mil­i­tancy and reg­u­larly posted links to the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion, an infa­mous anti-Semitic con­spir­acy theory.

Accord­ing to his Twit­ter account, McCain con­verted to Islam in 2004, well before he stopped post­ing about rap, sports and his friends and fam­ily on social media.

McCain is the sec­ond Amer­i­can iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been killed fight­ing with a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion in Syria in 2014. In May, Moner Abu Salha of Florida was iden­ti­fied in a Jab­hat al-Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) video as hav­ing par­tic­i­pated in a sui­cide attack. In addi­tion, an appar­ent Amer­i­can using the pseu­do­nym Abu Dujana al-Amriki was por­trayed in a video posted online as hav­ing been killed fight­ing with ISIS in 2013.

Over 100 Amer­i­cans are believed to have trav­eled to Syria and Iraq to join the fight­ing, and increas­ing num­bers of those Amer­i­cans are choos­ing ISIS as their orga­ni­za­tion of choice.

McCain was born in 1981 in Illi­nois. He later moved to the Twin Cities and then to San Diego. He grad­u­ated high school and, accord­ing to his Face­book pro­file, stud­ied at San Diego City College.

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August 20, 2014 0

ISIS Backs Up Threats Against U.S. With Beheading

Update – 9/3/2014: On Sep­tem­ber 2, 2014, an ISIS video was released show­ing the behead­ing of a sec­ond Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, Steven Sot­loff, again blam­ing U.S. pol­icy in Iraq. A third indi­vid­ual, this time a cit­i­zen of Great Britain, was threat­ened at the con­clu­sion of the video.

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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