Texas Attack Is Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism, Suspect ID’d as Elton Simpson of Phoenix

Simpson was arrested in 2010 on terror-related charges, but given probation. No time served.

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole. May 4, 2015:

BE SURE TO SEE UPDATES BELOW

The name of one of the suspects in last night’s shootout outside a Dallas-area free speech event has been released.

ABC News 13 in Phoenix has ID’d Elton Simpson as the individual who posted a message with #texasattack to his Twitter account just before the shooting.

twitter.com_2015-05-03_23-53-45a

They report:

A controversial cartoon contest in north Texas yesterday depicting the prophet Mohammed ended in deadly gunfire.

ABC News can confirm that one of the suspects is Elton Simpson, an Arizona man who was previously the subject of a terror investigation. He’s from Phoenix and television stations in Phoenix are reporting the second shooter was Simpson’s roommate. We’re still waiting on his name.

The FBI believes Simpson sent out a tweet using the hashtag #texasattack about a half hour before shooting.

ABC News adds that police have been executing search warrants at Simpson’s home in Phoenix overnight.

It appears that this attack is yet another case of what I have termed “known wolf” syndrome, when the suspect is already known to law enforcement and intelligence. Virtually every terror attack in the West over the past year has been by one of these “known wolf” suspects.

The Dallas Morning News reports:

Simpson was well known to the FBI, ABC News reported. Five years ago he was convicted for lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Africa, “but a judge ruled the government did not adequately prove he was going to join a terror group there.”

Simpson was apparently known to the FBI since 2006:

ha tweet

UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh actually wrote about Simpson’s case back in 2011. Quoting from the judicial opinion:

On January 13, 2010, a grand jury indicted Defendant Elton Simpson for knowingly and willfully making a materially false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). The indictment also charged that the statement involved international and domestic terrorism. The indictment specified that on or about January 7, 2010, the Defendant falsely stated to special agents of the FBI that he had not discussed traveling to Somalia, when in fact he had discussed with others traveling to Somalia for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad. The Government is charging Mr. Simpson with making a false statement in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1001. The Government is also charging that the false statement involves international or domestic terrorism as defined under section 2331, so that he is eligible for a sentence enhancement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §1001. […]

… The problem … is that the Government has not established with the requisite level of proof, that the Defendant’s potential travel to Somalia (and his false statement about his discussions regarding his travels) was sufficiently “related” to international terrorism. Rather, the Government missed several steps to meeting its burden for establishing this charge. As a result, the Court cannot find the Defendant eligible for the sentence enhancement.

According to ABC News, Simpson was convicted of lying to the FBI, but was placed on probation and never went to prison.

I’ve been chronicling these recent “Known Wolf” terrorism cases here at PJ Media:

Oct. 24, 2014: ‘Lone Wolf’ or ‘Known Wolf’: The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure

Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Jan. 7, 2015: Paris Terror Attack Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 3, 2015: French Police Terror Attacker Yesterday Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 15, 2015: Copenhagen Killer Was yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Feb. 26, 2015: Islamic State Beheader ‘Jihadi John’ Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Apr. 22, 2015: Botched Attack on Paris Churches Another Case of “Known Wolf” Terrorism

This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):

The suspect had tweeted that he had been arrested in 2010. His Twitter account has been deactivated, but I’m trying to find the screenshot of the tweet I made last night. I’ll post here when I find it.

From a U.S.-based jihadist supporter:

jihadi tweets

UPDATE: ABC has posted a picture of Simpson

Here is the court decision in that prior 2010 case:

UPDATE #2: Dallas Morning News adds more detail, including his known association with Al-Qaeda traitor Hassan Abu Jihad:

Simpson told agents in 2010 that he planned to study Islam at a madrassa in South Africa, records show. He said he would be gone for five years and didn’t have “firm plans” for what he would do after his studies.

But in a 2007 recorded conversation, Simpson spoke about fighting non believers for Allah. He also spoke about Afghanistan and Iraq and “Jewish oppression of Muslims.” And he criticized those who “don’t believe that they should be over there fighting.”

The FBI also got him on tape in 2009 speaking to someone about his plans.

“It’s time to go to Somalia, brother,” he said. “We know plenty of brothers from Somalia…I’m telling you, man. We gonna make it to the battlefield, akee, it’s time to roll.”

Simpson said non believers, known as “kuffar,” are “fighting against us because they don’t want us to establish sharia,” records show.

And he told an associate that he could sell his car to finance a trip overseas to fight.

“That’s a plane ticket right there. Bye-bye America,” Simpson said.

Simpson in 2009 also told someone he sent a link to someone else about “how they gonna use the car with bombs on it.” He said he was going to school at the time but that it was “just a front.” […]

When FBI agents visited Simpson in 2010, he asked them about an acquaintance, Hassan Abu Jihad, who was appealing his 2008 federal conviction in Connecticut for providing material support to terrorists.

Abu Jihad also was found guilty of “communicating national security information to persons not entitled to receive it,” records show. He was sentenced in 2009 to 10 years in federal prison. Simpson told agents he was concerned about Abu Jihad’s future.

Simpson said he knew Abu Jihad when the man lived in Phoenix previously. Abu Jihad was arrested in Phoenix in 2007.

************

Police searching car, apartment after shooting outside Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas (foxnews.com)

Police in Texas were still checking a car for possible explosives early Monday and authorities reportedly were searching the Phoenix home of the two suspects who were killed in an attack on an art exhibit that inflamed radical Muslims.

The City of Garland, Texas said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that the men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center on Sunday night and began shooting at a security officer. Garland Police Department officers returned fire, killing both gunmen, the statement said.

The statement did not say whether the shooting was related to the event, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

One of the suspects was known to U.S. intelligence and had been part of a recent terror investigation for allegedly trying to travel to Africa, home of the Al Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab, sources told Fox News.

Officials have been at the Phoenix apartment complex – some 1,100 miles from the Garland, Texas, crime scene — since late Sunday night and are reviewing computer records from materials found at the residence. Police tape continues to surround the area, KSAZ reports.

Authorities also are investigating Twitter messages from overseas posted prior to the event calling for violence. The tweets were posted by a 25-year-old American jihadi with al-Shabaab, investigators told Fox News.
FBI spokesman Perryn Collier on Monday confirmed that the Phoenix residence is being searched for indications of what prompted the shooting.

The FBI said the men involved in the shooting were roommates, according to 12 News.

Authorities said they were worried that the suspects’ car in Garland could contain an incendiary device. Several nearby businesses were evacuated as a precaution and a bomb squad was on the scene early Monday. Police had cordoned off a large area and at least three helicopters circled overhead.

The Garland Independent School District, which owns and operates the Culwell Center, identified the wounded security officer as Bruce Joiner. The district said in a statement that Joiner — who was shot in the ankle — was treated and released from a local hospital.

The FBI said the men involved in the shooting were roommates, according to 12 News.

Authorities said they were worried that the suspects’ car in Garland could contain an incendiary device. Several nearby businesses were evacuated as a precaution and a bomb squad was on the scene early Monday. Police had cordoned off a large area and at least three helicopters circled overhead.

The Garland Independent School District, which owns and operates the Culwell Center, identified the wounded security officer as Bruce Joiner. The district said in a statement that Joiner — who was shot in the ankle — was treated and released from a local hospital.

Roby said he then heard two single shots.

Geller told the AP before Sunday’s event that she planned the contest to make a stand for free speech in response to outcries and violence over drawings of Muhammad. Though it remained unclear several hours after the shooting whether it was related to event, she said Sunday night that the shooting showed how “needed our event really was.”

In January, 12 people were killed by gunmen in an attack against the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions and used depictions of Muhammad. Another deadly shooting occurred the following month at a free speech event in Copenhagen featuring an artist who had caricatured the prophet.

Geller’s group is known for mounting a campaign against the building of an Islamic center blocks from the World Trade Center site and for buying advertising space in cities across the U.S. criticizing Islam.

When a Chicago-based nonprofit held a January fundraiser in Garland designed to help Muslims combat negative depictions of their faith, Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: “Go back to your own countries! We don’t want you here!” Others held signs with messages such as, “Insult those who behead others,” an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Islamic State.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Canada Frees Gitmo Terrorist Who Killed US Army Sgt.

KahderCreeping Sharia, May 2, 2015:

via Gitmo Terrorist Who Killed Army Sgt., Lived at Bin Laden Compound Freed in Canada – Judicial Watch

An Al Qaeda terrorist guilty of murdering a U.S. Army sergeant and “transferred” from Guantanamo to Canada by the Obama administration has been released from an Alberta prison while he appeals his conviction for war crimes.

His name is Omar Ahmed Khader and he’s a member of Canada’s “first family of terror,” according to an international news report that confirms Khader’s father was an associate of Osama Bin Laden who moved his family to Pakistan to support the Afghan mujahideen in its war against the Soviet Union. In 2010 Khader was convicted of five war crimes, including throwing a grenade that killed Army Sergeant Christopher Speer in Afghanistan during a 2002 combat operation.

Khader spent around a decade at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and in 2010 cut a deal to serve the majority of his sentence in Canada. Under the terms, he admitted being an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent” and throwing the grenade that killed Sergeant Speer. In 2012 Khader was taken to Canada, where he evidently began working on an appeal. This month a Canadian judge ordered the release of the jihadist while he appeals his U.S. convictions. Canadian government officials argue that the judge has no jurisdiction to hear the unprecedented bail application from an offender convicted abroad and returned to Canada, according to anational news story.

The bottom line is that this terrorist, like so many others who have returned to jihadist causes after leaving Gitmo, never should have been released. To meet his longtime goal of closing Gitmo President Obama has tried clearing out the military compound that still houses the world’s most dangerous terrorists, including 9/11 masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi as well as USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In December Judicial Watch reported that the U.S. government put an Al Qaeda operative that had been freed from Gitmo on a global terrorist list and offered a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts.

Hundreds of Gitmo terrorists who have been discharged over the years—under a program that started with President George W. Bush—have reengaged in terrorism. In fact, Judicial Watch has been reporting this for years based on U.S. intelligence sources. Back in 2010 JW wrote about a report that the Director of National Intelligence gave Congress documenting that 150 former Gitmo detainees were confirmed or suspected of “reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer.” At least 83 remained at large, according to the document.

Now we must worry that yet another radical extremist who hates America is on the loose, in a friendly neighboring country where cross border travel is quite easy. Khader was encouraged by his father, a senior Al Qaeda leader in Canada, to travel to Khowst Afghanistan to translate for Al Qaeda personnel and participate in jihad against the United States, according to a Department of Defense (DOD) file kept by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo. “Detainee received training and instruction on how to build and plant Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and how to plant land mines,” the DOD file says. It also reveals that Khader “admitted to taking part in several mining and combat operations” and that he was present during a 2002 raid on a suspected Al Qaeda compound by U.S. Special Forces. “Detainee was wounded and captured after killing the USSF soldier,” the DOD writes.

Khader has direct family affiliations with senior Al Qaeda members, the Pentagon file states, and his entire family lived at one of Osama bin Laden’s compounds in Jalalabad Afghanistan. The U.S. government considered him to be a detainee of “high intelligence value” who provided important information on the Derunta, Al-Farouq and Khalden training camps as well as key Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. The U.S. let Khader go even though it had labeled him a “high risk” enemy combatant “likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interest or its allies.”


More on Khadr and his jihadist family:

Facts about Omar Khadr that the mainstream media won’t to tell you

More: Media whitewashing of Canadian jihadist Omar Khadr (video).

Video “Eliminating the Apostates”- Islamic State beheads, shoots 15 Yemeni soldiers

Islamic-State-Yemen-execution-soldiers-e1430448078191LWJ, by BILL ROGGIO, May 1, 2015:

The Islamic State in Yemen claimed credit for the brutal execution of 15 Yemeni soldiers who were captured in the city of Azzan in Shabwa province earlier this month. The treatment of the captured soldiers by the Islamic State presents a stark contrast to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) handling of captured Yemeni soldiers.

The Islamic State’s “Media Office for Shabwa Province” released a short, two minute 19 second video called “Eliminating the Apostates” on Twitter today. The video was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

In the video, the Islamic State displays 15 Yemeni soldiers. Local media reports indicated that tribal militias overran a military camp operated by the Yemeni Army’s 2nd Mountain Brigade in the city of Azzan in Shabwa province on April 12. Islamic State fighters from “Wilayat Ataq,” or Ataq province (Ataq is a city in Shabwa province), are reported to have executed the Yemeni soldiers days later, on April 14.

The 14 Yemeni soldiers are shown kneeling on the ground. Several of the captives are heard moaning and crying as armed Islamic State fighters stand behind them. Several of the soldiers identify themselves and their unit.

The video then briefly shows an Islamic State fighter sharpening a knife, then four of the captives are beheaded. The heads of the four soldiers are displayed on the ground. The Islamic State fighters then shoot 10 other soldiers, who are blindfolded and kneeling with their hands behind their backs, in the head. Finally, another soldier from the “Second Naval Brigade” is identified before he is shot in the head multiple times.

The graphic execution of the Yemeni soldiers draws a contrast in methodology between the Islamic State and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the dominant jihadist group in Yemen. The Islamic State has been challenging al Qaeda for control of the global jihad.

The Islamic State in Yemen, like other Islamic State branches in the Middle East and Africa, has been indiscriminate in its application of violence. In its first major attack in Yemen, the group killed more than 100 people in suicide attacks that targeted Houthi mosques in the capital of Sana’a. The Houthis, a Shiite group that is backed by Iran, have taken over most of northern and eastern Yemen, and have encroached on areas in the south. The Islamic State has accused AQAP of being soft on the Houthis, and has sought to cleave off the more hardline elements of AQAP’s rank and file.

AQAP was quick to distance itself from the Sana’a mosque attacks, saying that it was “committed to the guidelines” issued by al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, who prohibited “targeting mosques, markets, and public places out of concern for the lives of innocent Muslims, and to prioritize the paramount interests.” [See LWJ report, Analysis: Why AQAP quickly denied any connection to mosque attacks.]

Unlike the Islamic State, AQAP has sought to convert captured Yemeni soldiers to its cause, and has also used the soldiers as part of its propaganda effort against the Yemeni state and the US. In a video released in October 2013, AQAP questioned Yemeni soldiers who were captured during a raid on a base in Shabwa province. In a back and forth with a Yemeni Army captain, the AQAP interviewer said that the Yemeni military and the US “are in the same trench.”

“The [American] spying drones are in the sky and you are on the ground,” the jihadist said to a group of Yemeni soldiers.

“What is the difference between you and the Americans? Haven’t you thought about this issue? Haven’t you considered yourselves and the Americans in one front? When Americans bombard our brothers with unmanned drones, who collect their bodies? It’s you the soldiers. You take their bodies. You and the Americans are in one front,” the AQAP leader continued.

But the AQAP leader then said that the soldiers are not the target of AQAP’s wrath, and appealed to the soldiers to quit fighting alongside the Americans and join AQAP’s cause.

AQAP’s strategy of limiting its attacks to military and government targets has built support amongst some Yemeni tribes. The Islamic State’s execution of the Yemeni soldiers is unlikely to build similar support. According to Yemeni media reports, the tribes in Azzam that participated in the raid that resulted in the capture of the Yemeni troops have disassociated with the jihadist group after the execution of the soldiers.

***

Here is the video: (h/t Pamela Geller)

Terrorism in Africa: The Imminent Threat to the United States

Ansar al Sharia recruits receive training at a camp near Benghazi.

Ansar al Sharia recruits receive training at a camp near Benghazi.

Long War Journal, April 29, 2015:

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on the threat posed by jihadist groups in Africa. 

In preparing today’s testimony, I reviewed the history of al Qaeda’s plotting against the West. A number of facts demonstrate that al Qaeda’s presence in Africa has been tied to these efforts. For instance, declassified documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that he ordered al Qaeda’s branches in Africa to select candidates capable of striking inside the U.S. Bin Laden also ordered al Qaeda’s African branches to coordinate their work with his “external operations” team, which was responsible for plotting attacks against Western interests. Some of al Qaeda’s most senior leaders, including those who have overseen al Qaeda’s planned attacks in the West, have come from Africa. Senior al Qaeda leaders embedded in Shabaab have also trained operatives to attack in Europe. I discuss this evidence in detail in the final section of my written testimony.

Complex tribal, ethnic, and religious dynamics mean that any summary of the situation in Africa will be necessarily incomplete.  However, I will attempt to distill some themes that are important for understanding the rising jihadist threat in the continent. While there are important differences between ISIS and al Qaeda, and the two are at odds with one another in a variety of ways, they are both inherently anti-American and anti-Western. Thus, they constitute a threat to our interests everywhere their jihadists fight.

Since the beginning of the year, the ISIS branch in Libya has repeatedly attacked foreign interests. The group has bombed and/or assaulted with small arms the Algerian, Moroccan, Iranian, South Korean and Spanish embassies in Tripoli. Fortunately, these attacks have caused only a few casualties, as foreign governments pulled most of their diplomatic personnel out of Libya months ago. But these incidents show the organization’s followers are deeply hostile to any foreign presence.

Other ISIS attacks on foreigners in Libya have been more lethal and at least two Americans have been killed by ISIS’ so-called “provinces.” In January, the group’s fighters launched a complex assault on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli. Ten people, including David Berry, a former U.S. Marine serving as a security contractor, were killed. In August 2014, jihadists from the ISIS province in the Sinai killed William Henderson, an American petroleum worker.

Some of ISIS’ most gruesome acts in North Africa have come with pointed threats against the West. In February, the jihadists beheaded 21 Egyptian Copts. The propaganda video showing the murders was entitled, “A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross.” ISIS explicitly threatened Italy in the video and also made it clear that they would target Christians simply for adhering to a different faith. Earlier this month, ISIS’ branch followed up by killing a large group of Ethiopian Christians.

In March, ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis. More than 20 people were killed in the assault, which targeted foreign tourists. Citizens of Britain, France, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, and Spain were among the victims. Although ISIS was quick to lay claim to the museum slayings, the reality is more complicated. The Tunisian government has blamed the Uqba ibn Nafi Brigade, which is part of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an official branch of al Qaeda. Based on publicly-available information, it appears that the attackers may have joined ISIS, but the operation itself was planned by the AQIM brigade’s leadership.

Al Qaeda’s international network continues to launch high-profile attacks across the continent. Some of these operations directly target foreigners. Earlier this month, Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia, killed more than 140 people at the Garissa University College in Kenya. The gunmen reportedly separated out non-Muslims for killing, letting many Muslims go. This shows that the organization, like other parts of al Qaeda, is very concerned about the impact of its violence in the Muslim-majority world. In this respect and others, the Garissa attack was similar to Shabaab’s siege of the Westgate shopping mall in September 2013. More than 60 people were killed, with Shabaab’s gunmen singling out non-Muslims. Shabaab’s attacks in Kenya and other neighboring countries are part of what the UN has identified as the group’s “regional” strategy. Shabaab has undoubtedly suffered setbacks since the height of its power in East Africa, but it still operates a prolific insurgency inside Somalia, while also seeking to expand its capabilities in the surrounding countries. In fact, America’s counterterrorism efforts in East Africa seem to be principally aimed at the part of Shabaab tasked with exporting terrorism throughout the region.

As we’ve seen over the past several years, al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Africa will attack American and Western interests when the opportunity presents itself.  The September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Mission and Annex in Benghazi and the raid on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis three days later were carried out by al Qaeda-linked groups. The Ansar al Sharia organizations in Libya and Tunisia, both of which are tied to AQIM, were involved in these assaults on America’s diplomatic presence in North Africa. In early 2013, terrorists commanded by Mokhtar Belmokhtar killed dozens of foreign workers during the siege of the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria. Belmokhtar, who is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri, claimed responsibility for operation on behalf of al Qaeda.

There is no doubt, therefore, that both ISIS and al Qaeda pose a threat to Western interests in Africa. Below, I explore current trends within both organizations, highlighting some ways these international networks may threaten Americans both home and abroad. But first, I briefly look at the different strategies ISIS and al Qaeda are employing to build up their networks.

Read more

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Subcommittee Hearing: Terrorism in Africa: The Imminent Threat to the United States

Witnesses

Dr. J. Peter Pham
Director
Africa Center
Atlantic Council
Witness Statement [PDF]
Witness Truth in Testimony [PDF]

Mr. Thomas Joscelyn
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Witness Statement [PDF]
Witness Truth in Testimony [PDF]

Dr. Daniel Byman
Research Director
Center for Middle East Policy
Center for Security Studies
Brookings Institution
Witness Statement [PDF]
Witness Truth in Testimony [PDF]

Why Adam Gadahn’s Killing Matters To Al-Qaeda

Adam Gadahn Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Adam Gadahn Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MEMRI, by Steven Stalinsky, April 24, 2015:

On April 23, 2015 the White House announced that Adam Gadahn, the first American to be charged with treason since World War II and the man known as Al-Qaeda’s American spokesman, had been killed inadvertently in a U.S. drone attack in January in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. It seems inconceivable that 35 years ago in California, a little-known Jewish psychedelic musician, himself the son of a prominent Zionist doctor, and his wife brought into the world a son, Adam Pearlman, who would become one of America’s most notorious traitors in the war on terror.

In 2004, at age 26, Gadahn made it to the FBI’s most wanted list. He trained in Afghanistan terrorist camps, and was asked by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammad to join a plot for a suicide attack outside Baltimore. A sealed indictment dated September 8, 2006 accused Gadahn, aka Al-Qaeda operative “Azzam the American,” of helping the terror organization with communications and propaganda, serving as its English translator, and providing it with information about American culture and vulnerabilities. The following month, the U.S. government formally announced treason charges against him.

Adam Pearlman’s parents converted to Christianity and took the last name Gadahn. Adam’s first contact with Islam came when his father sold meat he had slaughtered to Muslim halal markets. As a pimply, head-banging 17-year-old, Adam embraced Islam at an Orange County mosque. Until the summer of 2006, the University of Southern California’s (USC) Muslim Student Association’s online compendium of Muslim texts included an essay by “Adam Pearlman” titled “Becoming Muslim,” which stated: “Having been around Muslims in my formative years, I knew well that they were not the bloodthirsty, barbaric terrorists that the news media and the televangelists paint them to be.”

His first Al-Qaeda video appearance was in October 2004; a masked Gadahn declared, “Allah willing, the streets of America will run red with blood.” In his next video, which aired on Al-Jazeera on September 12, 2005, he explained, again masked, that Al-Qaeda’s numerous post-9/11 audio and video recordings communiqués had been “released to explain and propound the nature and goals of the worldwide jihad against America and the Crusaders and convey our legitimate demands.”

Both Gadahn’s knowledge of American culture and his media skills played a significant role in the development of As-Sahab, the Al-Qaeda media company; he was one of its key officials. He also laid the groundwork for other homegrown terrorists and for the use of the Internet for cyber jihad. High-ranking members of the Al-Qaeda leadership – even leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri – told Americans to listen to his words.

In his next video appearance, on July 8, 2006, Gadahn, unmasked for the first time, warned, alongside footage of 7/7 London suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer and of Al-Zawahiri: “When we bomb their cities and civilians… no sane Muslim should shed tears for them.” In a subsequent video, released January 6, 2008, Gadahn renounced his U.S. citizenship as he ripped up his passport.

From 2004 onward, Gadahn starred in nearly two dozen Al-Qaeda videos, producing, narrating, and providing graphics for many more. In most of his appearances, he was seated at a desk, usually with a computer and a rifle; in 12 years, he appeared outdoors only once. Most of his early videos were in English, but over time he began speaking in Arabic.

While some government and counterterrorism analysts have debated Gadahn’s importance, the fact is that he was a trailblazer in inspiring and helping to recruit American youth to join Al-Qaeda. No other Westerner, let alone American, was ever as close to the leadership of Al-Qaeda, including its late leader Osama bin Laden, current leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and even 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad.

Gadahn’s importance within Al-Qaeda was confirmed by the May 2012 release of the Abbottabad documents found in the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound; the documents revealed that he had been one of the few people in contact with bin Laden and had actively advised him before his death. One, a 21-page letter, was filled with both media advice and general advice about the future of Al-Qaeda and the direction it should take with respect to its affiliates and their actions.

Not only did Gadahn help Al-Qaeda reach a wider audience, but his appeal to prospective recruits resonated with those seeking a direction and attracted to radical Islam. His personal story showed that anyone in the West, even the grandson of a Jewish Zionist doctor, could become a global jihad leader. In particular, he was influential among the American converts with little Arabic who comprise some of the increasing number of Westerners joining and pledging loyalty to Al-Qaeda and, now, to ISIS; Gadahn recordings have been found on the computers of many Westerners arrested on terrorism charges.

Beginning in 2010, Gadahn, now under the alias of Abu Suhail, regularly provided articles and interviews to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP’s) English-language magazine for jihadis in the West, Inspire, reaching an entire new generation of recruits.

Gadahn last surfaced in October 2014, in the inaugural issue of Resurgence magazine – the Al-Qaeda media company As-Sahab’s English-language mouthpiece for the recently formed Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). In the cover story, “Besiege Them!” he called for the establishment of the Caliphate and focused on economic tactics for combatting the West, concluding with a call to Muslims worldwide to wage jihad and warning the West that Al-Qaeda’s war on it has only begun.

The killing of Adam Gadahn is a significant blow to Al-Qaeda. This is because he was a big part of Al-Qaeda’s media outreach efforts, in particular outreach to potential Western recruits. Following the emergence of ISIS and its proficiency at producing English-language content, including online magazines and videos, and at distributing them via social networks – efforts which far surpassed Al-Qaeda’s – Gadahn’s death will increase the already significant gap in the rivalry between the two organizations. However, like Osama bin Laden and Yemeni-American sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki, his legacy will live on, on YouTube and other platforms and outlets where his videos are viewed every day by the increasing numbers of Westerners turning to jihad.

Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). He is the author of the upcoming book release: American Traitor – Inside the Mind of Adam Gadahn – Al-Qaeda’s U.S. Born Leader.

Also see:

Ohio Arrest Shows Threat to U.S. from Al-Qaeda in Syria

ohiolg_0

What now for the U.S.’ relationship with Al-Nusra after an American goes to Syria for jihadist training and returns to commit terrorism?

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 19, 2015:

Al-Nusrah American citizen Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud was indicted after a cleric associated with Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria) ordered him to carry out an attack here, the Justice Department announced. His plot to attack a military base in Texas was thwarted. The involvement of Al-Nusra will make it difficult for the U.S. to keep looking the other way as it gains territory in Syria.

Originally from Somalia, Mohamud grew up in the U.S. He lives in Columbus, Ohio and Islamist radicalism seems to be a family affair in this case. His brother died fighting for Al-Qaeda in Syria and was apparently a major influence in Mohamud’s radicalization.

Their younger brother, Abdiqani Aden, was arrested earlier this month during a visit to Mohamud because he made a gun symbol with his hands and pointed towards the sheriff’s deputies. He was speaking in a foreign language at the time. This is especially threatening because Mohamud’s second-choice target was a prison.

The government’s monitoring of communication between the two older brothers shows their motivations were not frustration with U.S. foreign policy or personal trials. They were inspired by a glorification of those who die in violent jihad and a belief that such “martyrs” are guaranteed entry into heaven.

His brother left the U.S. in May 2013 and went to Syria to link up with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing. Mohamud’s travel arrangements involved Al-Nusra members and that is presumably the group he joined, but his online postings showed his loyalty was with ISIS. Al-Nusra facilitators appear to have been surprisingly unconcerned by this.

This may indicate the rift between the leadership of ISIS and Al-Qaeda isn’t necessarily trickling down to most of the membership. The attacks in Paris are another example where Al-Qaeda and ISIS supporters worked together despite the quarrels of their leaders.

His brother was killed in June 2014 and he returned home afterwards. Mohamud told a close associate that he completed his training with an unidentified terrorist group in Syria and a cleric told him to return to the U.S. to carry out an attack. The indictment charges Mohamud with providing material support to Al-Nusra, so it appears that he never joined ISIS.

Mohamud began plotting but two unidentified individuals close to him reported their dialogues to the FBI and likely recorded them. One was a friend of his for three years and all indications point to one or both of these informants being Muslim. This is another example of why the demonization of informants by groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is so dangerous.

Mohamud decided his preference was to attack a military site with a prison as a backup option. He chose a base in Texas and hoped to execute three or four U.S. soldiers before achieving “martyrdom.” The FBI arrested him before he could start putting the details together.

The cleric’s involvement is an important detail because it threatens to unravel the Obama Administration’s façade that Al-Nusra isn’t a direct threat to America. It also indicates the group is putting an increased emphasis on hitting us at home.

The U.S. realized in September the air campaign against ISIS needed to include a unit within Al-Nusra named the Khorasan Group that was orchestrating terror plots against the West. The problem is that Al-Nusra is much more popular than ISIS and works closely with other Syrian rebels, including ones the U.S. supported and anticipated relying upon to fight ISIS on the ground.

The desire to avoid alienating Al-Qaeda-allied Syrian rebels and their supporters led the Obama Administration to begin promoting a myththat the Khorasan Group is an independent entity that is somehow illogically linked to Al-Qaeda but not Al-Nusra. The New York Timesrepeated it in its coverage of this case.

The myth is harmful to U.S. interests and anti-Islamist Syrians because it distances Al-Nusra from Al-Qaeda, thereby giving it a higher ceiling of public support. A Zogby poll in November found the population of Turkey favors Al-Nusra above all other participants in the Syrian civil war. A whopping 40% of Turks support Al-Nusra the most.

The indications are that Mohamud’s Syrian cleric is from Al-Nusra but it’s still significant he’s in ISIS because that would mean it is now dispatching operatives from the region to America. That would be a shift from relying on so-called “lone wolves” inside the U.S. who plan terrorism because they’ve determined that traveling to the Caliphateis unlikely to succeed.

It is true that Mohamud’s case is important because it’s the first publicly-acknowledged case of an American going to Syria for jihadist training and returning home to commit terrorism, but there’s a bigger point to be made. The U.S. is at war with Jabhat al-Nusra because it is at war with Al-Qaeda. If a Syrian rebel partner doesn’t approve of the U.S. recognizing that unavoidable fact, then that’s not a partner worth having.

Benghazi suspect designated by UN, State Department

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LWJ, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | April 15, 2015:

The State Department added Ali Ouni Harzi to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorists yesterday. Harzi, who is based in Syria, “joined Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T) in 2011 and was a high-profile member known for recruiting volunteers, facilitating the travel of AAS-T fighters to Syria, and for smuggling weapons and explosives into Tunisia,” according to State.

Curiously, the State Department’s designation page does not mention Harzi’s role in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks.

Days earlier, the United Nations (UN) added Harzi to the Security Council’s al Qaeda sanctions list. The UN’s designation page for Harzi reads: “Planned and perpetrated the attack against the Consulate of the United States in Benghazi, Libya on 11 Sep. 2012.”

Indeed, Harzi was one of the first suspects in the Benghazi attack to be publicly identified. The Daily Beast first reported that Harzi’s involvement in the assault on the US Mission and Annex were discovered after US officials learned that he had “posted an update on social media about the fighting shortly after it had begun.” This was “[o]ne of the first clues the intelligence community had about the perpetrators” in Benghazi.

Harzi was apprehended in Turkey in October 2012 at the behest of US officials. He was making his way to Syria at the time.

After being deported to Tunisia, Harzi was held for weeks. In December 2012, FBI agents questioned him about the Benghazi attack. Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, an al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization, stalked the agents. The group posted their pictures online while condemning the Tunisian government for allowing the FBI to interview Harzi. That same month Ansar al Sharia Tunisia released a video discussing Harzi’s case and confirming the FBI’s role in his questioning.

In early January 2013, despite his suspected role in the death of four Americans, Harzi was released. Ansar al Sharia posted a video celebrating Harzi’s release. Harzi made some brief comments in the video, which showed him being congratulated by his fellow jihadists.

US officials, including then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and John Brennan, who became the CIA director, were asked about Harzi’s release during congressional hearings.

In late January 2013, Clinton told senators that the Tunisians had “assured” the United States that Harzi was “under the monitoring of the court.” In February, during his confirmation process to become CIA director, Brennan claimed that the US government “didn’t have anything on” Harzi and, therefore, his release was not worrisome.

As the UN’s designation shows, however, there has long been evidence that Harzi was directly involved in the Benghazi attack. And Tunisian authorities clearly failed to keep tabs on Harzi.

On February 6, 2013, a left-wing Tunisian politician named Chokri Belaid was assassinated. Then, on July 25, another popular politician, Mohamed Brahmi, was killed. The following day Tunisian authorities claimed that Harzi was involved in both assassinations. However, neither the UN nor the State Department designations mention this allegation. Another Ansar al Sharia Tunisia member who went on to join the Islamic State has boasted of his role in planning the murders.

In March of this year, the Tunisian National Guard issued an arrest warrant for Harzi.

In addition to Ali Ouni Harzi (whose name is often spelled Ali Ani al Harzi in the press), the UN designated Tarak Ouni Harzi, Ali’s brother. Tarak was a known facilitator for al Qaeda in Iraq. Tarak was a “dangerous and active member of Al Qaida in Iraq” as of 2004, according to the UN and “also active in facilitating and hosting members of Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia…in Syria.” Tarak was sentenced, “in absentia, on 30 October 2007, to 24 years imprisonment for terrorist activities by the Appeals Court of Tunis.”

Despite being wanted by international authorities, both of the Harzi brothers remain at large. It is not clear if they are working for the Islamic State, the Al Nusrah Front, or some other jihadist groups in Syria.

The leader of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, Abu Iyad al Tunisi, remains free as well. Al Tunisi is a longtime al Qaeda operative who helped orchestrate the assault on the US Embassy in Tunis on Sept. 14, 2012, just three days after the Benghazi attack. The State Department has also designated Abu Iyad as an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist and noted his role in the Sept. 14 assault.

Both Ansar al Sharia Libya, which was one of the al Qaeda groups responsible for the Benghazi attack, and Ansar al Sharia Tunisia have operated as part of al Qaeda’s network in North Africa.

Mullar Omar Bio Draws Subtle Distinctions with “Caliph” AbuBakr

2422558701CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April, 6, 2015:

The Taliban has published a new biography of Mullah Omar (link is to Taliban-controlled shahamat-english.com) which paints a hagiographic picture of the Taliban leader’s history and upbringing (H/T LongWarJournal).

The biography covers Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ childhood, his Islamic studies up to the age of eighteen, before pointing out that his studies were “interrupted” by the invasion of Afghanistan, and going into detail on his history of jihad against the Russians.

While not expressly doing so, the biography establishes a number of key distinctions between Omar and his rival Amir al mu’minin (Leader of the Faithful) “Caliph” AbuBakr Al-Baghdadi, with whom it is currently in a struggle with over legitimacy regarding leadership of the Global Jihad Movement. While Mullah Omar has never formally been put forward as a candidate, both Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have used the Leader of the Faithful title to refer to Mullah Omar, a title typically applied to a sitting caliph. Omar has been given the title since 1996, during a Taliban demonstration where he was filmed holding aloft the supposed relic of the Prophet Mohammed’s cloak.

These distinctions between Mullah Omar and Baghdadi are notable, and likely intentional, as Al Qaeda and the Taliban compete with Islamic State for jihadist legitimacy and preeminence.

Beginning from childhood the comparisons are immediately clear. While Islamic State’s Baghdadi claims a, certainly apocryphal, lineage going back to the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet, Omar’s biography highlights a tribal connection to  Mīrwais Khān Hotak (who led Afghanistan’s rebellion against the Safavid Persian dynasty), an elite but by no means as storied a parentage.

While Al-Baghdadi has a doctorate in Islamic Studies from a prominent Baghdad University, Mullah Omar’s formal Islamic studies were halted by the Soviet invasion. The biography goes into great detail regarding alleged “heroics” of Mullah Omar in fighting the Soviets from as early 1978. While it goes unstated, the Taliban is indicating that its leader was fighting jihad while the Islamic State’s “Caliph” was still a toddler. While much about Baghdadi’s history is not clear, It does not appear that he was a jihadist commander of any significant stature prior to his detention in Camp Bucca, Iraq.

The biography also defends Mullah Omar’s Islamic orthodox as a member of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence:

Ideologically, Mullah Mohammad Umar ‘Mujahid’ belongs to the main ‘Ahl-i-Sunna wal Jamma’a’ (the believers in Quran, traditions of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, and the consensus of Muslim Umma). He is the imitator of Hanafi school of thought. He is severely opposed to all heresy or heterodox opinions. He never likes sectional, ideological and factional differences among the Muslims.

Reference to factionalism may be an intended backhand to Islamic State, which is known for attacking other jihadist groups with whom they have disagreements.  As a whole, that the Taliban feels the need to defend Omar’s Islamic orthodox is a reflection on the success of Islamic State propagandists who have described Mullah Omar as Deobandi ( a sect popularized in India and Pakistan, which includes both Wahhabist and, reportedly Sufi elements) which the Islamic State considers heterodox.

Much of the rest of the biography focuses on personal traits ascribed to Mullah Omar, with the intent of depicting him as a particularly pious and overly humble individual, describing him as being reduced to tears at being named Leader of the Faithful, and naturally contrasts with the cult of personality Islamic State propaganda generates around the person of Al-Baghdadi as sitting Caliph. The biography also details the system of governance, and the commissions and deputies through which Mullah Omar purports to govern, intended to dismiss criticism by Islamic State supporters that Mullah Omar has not be seen in public.

The biography highlights both the age and experience gap between Al Qaeda and Islamic State supporters. Generally, Islamic State supporters are younger, and more familiar with the history of jihad against the United States beginning with Osama Bin Laden, through Zarqawi and now Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Islamic State attempts to highlight their control of territory as unprecedented and their establishment of Shariah over parts of Iraq and Syria as equally unprecedented. The Taliban on the other hand, represent the “wise old men” of jihad with a substantive history of establishing and running an Islamic emirate in spite of fierce opposition from the West.

That said, while it’s possible that this report may shore up support among Taliban and Al Qaeda loyalists, it’s unlikely to put a dent in the enthusiasm generated by the Islamic State’s Caliphate declaration.

Also see:

They’re Here: A Week of Jihad in America

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher Holton, April 4, 2015:

Americans seem to be oblivious or desensitized to the growing evidence that Jihad is hitting the streets here in America. About a week ago or so we posted a rundown of recent Jihadi activity on the continent of Africa, illustrating the fact that it has become the central front in the global Jihadist insurgency:

http://terrortrendsbulletin.com/2015/03/28/africa-on-fire-jihad-on-the-march/

What may not be apparent is the escalating level of Jihadi activity here in the USA. Even attacks such as those that occurred in 2014 in Moore, Oklahoma (beheading of a grandmother by a former Muslim co-worker) and Queens, New York (hatchet attack on NYPD officers) were far from front page news.

Such incidents are almost always reflexively followed by the meant-to-be-comforting caveat…”no known connection to a terrorist organization.” This is actually more alarming than it is comforting as it is an indication that a revolutionary atmosphere has developed in the US Muslim community that has prompted individual Muslims to act on the calls to Jihad that we have seen from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other Jihadi leaders.

We’ve decided to post recent articles about Jihadi arrests, plots and cases that have appeared in the news to illustrate that, well, the enemy is indeed here in our midst and active. Keep in mind that these are only the enemy that our law enforcement community has publicly identified, pursued and apprehended…

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In just the last week, Jihadis from Texas, Philadelphia and New York have been apprehended…note also mention of a Jihadi from Minnesota…

U.S. prosecutors in New York City and Philadelphia charged four people with terrorism-related crimes, including two Queens women who allegedly discussed making bombs with an undercover federal agent.

Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, were accused of conspiring to prepare an explosive device to detonate in the U.S.

A Texas man, Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, was charged separately with seeking to train alongside Muslim militants who allegedly plotted to attack New York City subways.

Friday, U.S. prosecutors announced charges against a Philadelphia woman, Keonna Thomas, accused of attempting to join Islamic State. The government said she posted items expressing support for the group on Twitter, and communicated online with a Somalia-based jihadi fighter from Minnesota, a radical Islamic cleric and an ISIS fighter in Syria.

Velentzas allegedly praised the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and declared that she and Siddiqui were “citizens of the Islamic State.” Siddiqui had repeated contact with members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, including propagandist Samir Khan, former editor of Inspire, al-Qaeda’s English-language online magazine, the U.S. alleged in court papers.

Khan, who was killed in Yemen in 2011, published articles including “I am proud to be a traitor to America” and “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” according to prosecutors.

In discussions with the undercover officer last year, the women allegedly said they were learning “science” in order to build a bomb. They later said they were reading technical books and learning about making homemade grenades, pipe bombs and pressure-cooker bombs, the U.S. alleged.

Siddiqui wrote jihadist poetry with lines about dropping bombs and referred to “nations wiped clean of filthy shrines,” according to the government. She obtained multiple propane tanks and had instructions for using them as explosives, prosecutors alleged.

Farekh [the Texas man], who studied at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, is accused of leaving the school for Pakistan in 2007, joining others seeking to train for attacks against U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. He was eventually deported from Pakistan.

An alleged co-conspirator, Ferid Imam, aided a plot to attack the New York City subways, according to the government. That plot was foiled in 2009.

In the Philadelphia case, Thomas, who allegedly went by the name “YoungLioness,” was asked by an ISIS fighter if she wanted to be involved in a martyrdom operation. Thomas, 30, responded by stating, “that would be amazing….a girl can only wish,” according to the government. She was arrested after purchasing tickets to fly overseas, prosecutors said.

The cases are U.S. v. Velentzas, 15-mj-00303, and USA v. AL Farekh,1:15-mj-00021, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-02/two-new-york-women-charged-by-u-s-in-alleged-terrorist-plot

There have been separate reports that Velentzas and Siddiqui sought to attack a police funeral to maximize casualties among U.S. law enforcement and that one of the two put on a veneer of patriotism with an American flag displayed in front of her home.

Noelle Velentzas...Note her affiliation with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), one of the largest Islamic organizations in America

Asia Siddiqui

Some more stories on the two female Jihadis:

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/04/02/fbi-arrests-two-new-york-city-women-for-alleged-isis-inspired-bomb-plot/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/04/02/two-nyc-women-who-declared-themselves-citizens-of-the-islamic-state-charged-with-plotting-to-set-off-bombs-in-the-u-s/

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Terror-Arrest-New-York-FBI-NYPD-Police-297422441.html

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Velentzas and Siddiqui were apparently tied to Tairoid Pugh, the US Air Force veteran who was arrested in March for joining the Islamic State:

A one-time Air Force mechanic whose radical beliefs had him on the FBI’s radar since the late 1990s has been charged in federal court in Brooklyn with trying to join the Islamic State terror group..

Tairod Pugh, 47, of Neptune, New Jersey, allegedly did Internet searches for border crossings into Syria and downloaded execution videos by the jihadist group, before traveling from Egypt to Turkey in January to fight for the group…

After being turned away, the government said, he wiped most of his electronic devices of evidence but kept a picture of a machine gun on his phone. Deported from Egypt to the United States, he was charged in a sealed complaint in January, and indicted this week.

“Pugh, an American citizen, was willing to travel overseas and fight jihad alongside terrorists seeking to do us harm,” Diego Rodriguez, head of the FBI’s New York office, said in a statement.

In February, three Brooklyn men were accused of plotting to aid the terror group, including two who planned to join, authorities said.

Court papers said Pugh served in the Air Force as an avionics instrument system specialist from 1986 to 1990, and worked for American Airlines and a military contractor in Iraq. Overseas for the past 12 to 18 months, he allegedly lost his last job as a mechanic in Kuwait in December.

The government said Pugh converted to Islam in 1998. In 2001, a co-worker allegedly tipped the FBI that Pugh sympathized with Osama bin Laden and held anti-American views. In 2002, an associate said Pugh hoped to fight jihad in Chechnya.

But the government said he objected to deportation from Egypt because the “U.S. doesn’t like black Muslims.” A search of his laptop revealed 180 jihadist videos and an email intended for his Egyptian wife, according to the criminal complaint.

“I am a Mujahid,” said the email. “. . . There is only two possible outcomes for me. Victory or Martyr.”

http://www.newsday.com/news/new-york/tairod-nathan-webster-pugh-u-s-air-force-vet-charged-in-plot-to-aid-islamic-state-group-feds-say-1.10072309

Tairod Pugh: Air Force veteran, former American Airlines employee and long-time Jihadi

Note in the article above the mention of the three Brooklyn men indicted on terror charges in February.

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Here is an article about the Philadelphia woman who faces terrorism charges…

Authorities charged a Philadelphia woman on Friday with attempting to join Islamic State…

Keonna Thomas, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen who went by “YoungLioness” online, was arrested before she could travel to Syria and join the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, according to a criminal complaint. 

Last month she bought a plane ticket to Barcelona, court records show, and was due to fly on March 29. Federal agents executed a search warrant at her home on March 27 and seized evidence, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia said. 

Ms. Thomas, who is charged with knowingly attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, was ordered held until a detention hearing next week.

Ms. Thomas’s postings on social media drew the attention of law enforcement, according to an affidavit from a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent.

But her case differs from other recent prosecutions of Islamic State sympathizers because it doesn’t appear to rely on an undercover FBI operative working with the target. Instead, the FBI intercepted communications between Ms. Thomas and an overseas Islamic fighter, among others. In them, she allegedly expressed her desire to travel to join the group in Syria.

In the past 18 months, dozens of Americans—from Colorado to Minnesota to New York—have faced criminal charges related to ISIS. 

Ms. Thomas’s alleged support of Islamic State dates to 2013, according to court filings. The FBI affidavit claims that in August 2013 she reposted a picture on Twitter showing a camouflage-clad boy wearing firearm magazine pouches, with this caption: “Ask yourselves, while this young man is holding magazines for the Islamic state, what are you doing for it? #ISIS.”

In December 2013, court filings show, she exchanged messages with a man described by the FBI as a Somali-based violent jihadi fighter from Minnesota. Ms. Thomas allegedly told him she planned to “leave the land of kufr [nonbelievers]” and would travel once she got enough money.

In January 2014 she tweeted, “Only thing I’m jealous of is when I see the smiles of shuhadaa [martyrs],” according to court records, which allege that she posted messages throughout the year that appeared to support ISIS.

In late January of this year, the FBI alleges, she sent a message to a radical Islamic cleric in Jamaica in which she wrote, “i don’t want to say much here….as of now im still here in the states but will be leaving soon.”

Five days later she applied for a passport and in mid-February told the cleric she had deactivated her Twitter account, saying, according to court records, “don’t want to draw attention of the kuffar [nonbelievers] and it mess my plans and they take my pass port and I get stuck here.”

On Feb. 17, the FBI affidavit says, the known overseas fighter wrote to her: “U probably want to do Istishadee [martyrdom operations] with me.” She allegedly replied: “that would be amazing….a girl can only wish.”

“I can make that wish come true,” the militant allegedly responded.

She researched indirect travel routes to Turkey, a common transit point to Syria, according to the complaint. Among them was flying to Spain to avoid suspicion, then traveling by bus to Turkey.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/philadelphia-woman-keonna-thomas-charged-with-attempting-to-join-isis-1428078216

Keonna Thomas appearing in court after arrest on terrorism charges. Why she is allowed to appear in court covered that way is anyone's guess.

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Here is an article on Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, the Texas native indicted on terror charges…

A U.S. citizen accused of conspiring to support al Qaeda appeared in a federal court in New York on Thursday. Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 29, was charged with conspiracy, reports said, citing the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Farekh reportedly plotted with others to provide material support to the terrorists. He also helped them gain personnel to kill U.S. citizens and members of the U.S. military in other countries, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a charging document. Farekh was deported from Pakistan and arrested due to a pending warrant.

http://www.ibtimes.com/texas-born-al-qaeda-suspect-muhanad-mahmoud-al-farekh-accused-conspiring-aid-1868854

Texas born Al Qaeda terrorist Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh

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Another Jihadi case surfaced in Illinois over a week ago when two cousins–one a soldier with the Illinois Army National Guard–were arrested on terrorism charges:

An Army National Guard member and his cousin have been arrested in Illinois for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist organization ISIS, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The alleged plot included a plan to attack a U.S. military installation in Illinois.

In the past 18 months, the Justice Department’s National Security Division has prosecuted or is prosecuting 32 cases of people attempting to travel abroad to join or providing support to terrorist groups. Of those cases, 18 allegedly involve support to ISIS. 

Spc. Hasan Edmonds, 22, was arrested Wednesday night at Chicago Midway International Airport while attempting to travel to Egypt to eventually join ISIS…

His cousin, Jonas “Yunus” Edmonds, 29, was arrested at his home in Aurora in connection with an alleged plot to carry out an armed attack on an unspecified U.S. military facility in northern Illinois where Hasan Edmonds had been training.

After an undercover FBI informant posing as an ISIS fighter outside the United States sent Hasan Edmonds a Facebook “friend” request in late 2014, he began to receive private messages from him indicating that he and his cousin were willing to travel to overseas and fight for ISIS, according to the court documents. 

“InshAllah we will complete our task or be grants [sic] shahada [Arabic for martyr] I look forward to the training,” Hasan Edmonds is alleged to have told the informant in January. “I am already in the American kafir army and now I wish only to serve in the army of Allah alongside my true brothers.”

They continued to communicate over the following weeks, with Hasan Edmonds expressing concerns about Jonas Edmonds’ criminal record and whether he would be allowed to travel overseas.

“They try hard to keep people like him trapped in America,” he told the undercover FBI employee. 

“I know several Muslims have been caught attempting the Turkey route so tell me why not many Americans take the Egypt route. I am open to either way,” Hasan Edmonds told the informant, according to court documents. 

On February 2, Hasan Edmonds contacted the undercover informant again and said his cousin was willing to carry out an attack on U.S. soil.

“Honestly we would love to do something like the brother in Paris did,” Hasan Edmonds stated, referring to the French terror attacks in January in which 16 people were killed.

Prosecutors said Jonas Edmonds contacted the informant to arrange travel accommodations.

“Number one on my list is Mosul,” he stated, referring to Iraq’s second-largest city. “If I find myself stuck here [in the United States], I intend to take advantage of being so close to the kuffar.” 

Jonas Edmonds this week accepted that he would be unable to travel and told the FBI informant of his intention to buy AK-47s and grenades to carry out an attack on the military facility. He would use his cousin’s uniform and “anticipated a body count of 100 to 150.” He was given a list of officer rankings by his cousin and advised to “kill the head,” according to court documents. 

Prosecutors said Jonas Edmonds planned to carry out the attack after Hasan Edmonds left the country.

Hasan Edmonds planned to use his military training to fight for the terrorist organization, prosecutors said in a statement. Hasan Edmonds booked airline travel to depart Wednesday from Chicago and arrive in Cairo on Thursday.

The cousins presented an undercover informant with plans to attacks the military facility, prosecutors said.

More than 20,000 fighters, from more than 90 countries, have traveled to the ISIS battlefield, according to the testimony of Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, before the House Homeland Security Committee.

The rate of foreign fighters traveling to Syria “exceeds the rate of travelers who went to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any point in the last 20 years,” Rasmussen said. 

Of those fighters, an estimated 3,400 are believed to have come from Western countries, including more than 150 from the United States, officials said.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/26/us/illinois-arrests-isis/

Jonas Edmonds--evidently no stranger to the penal system.

Hasan Edmonds

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Finally, in Boston, Americans for Peace and Tolerance have uncovered evidence of Jihadist indoctrination at the Islamic Society of Boston, which was the mosque attended by the Tsarnaev brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon. It was also founded by Abduraham Alamoudi, who was later revealed to be an Al Qaeda terrorist and was convicted on terrorism charges…

Islamic Society of Boston: co-founded by Al Qaeda terrorist, mosque of Boston marathon bombers.

The Boston Marathon bombers’ mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), employs an intensive radicalizing program aimed at Boston’s historically moderate Muslim community, especially at its youth. It’s called “Tarbiya,” which is Arabic for “growth and refinement.” It is not something that is practiced as part of classical mainstream Islam.

APT has obtained several curriculum documents created by ISB-affiliated groups, which describe exactly what is taught and when, with assignments detailed down to book and page number.

Read the details on BreitBart.com…

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/03/27/revealed-jihadist-lessons-at-the-boston-marathon-bombers-mosque/

Also see:

 

State Department Wanted to Engage ‘Moderate Jihadists’ in Libya

isis-obama-shhhhhh (1)PJ Media, By Patrick Poole On April 4, 2015:

During the final years of the Bush administration and throughout the Obama administration I’ve been reporting here regularly on the bipartisan call from the U.S. foreign policy elite and their media sycophants to engage “moderate Islamists” in the Middle East. In conservative circles, embracing this view warranted you being deemed among the “smarter hardliners on the Right” by the establishment media.

As I’ve repeatedly noted, whether in Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Gaza, Lebanon, Turkey, or Syria (as well as many others), this policy has had catastrophic and massively fatal consequences.

Now Eli Lake and Josh Rogin at Bloomberg have this scoop:

According to a March 2 cable from the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones — described to us by a U.S. counterterrorism official — the State Department has been considering outreach to other, supposedly more moderate elements of the militia-aligned opposition forces in an effort to balance U.S. influence and cover all political bets.

The cable, according to our source, didn’t go over well with other U.S. government agencies, and as of now U.S. policy remains to deal exclusively with the Tobruk leadership.

Of course, this policy worked out so well in Benghazi in September 2012, when the “moderate Islamist” February 17th Martyrs Brigade was charged with defending our consulate there. Interestingly, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade in Benghazi is now in open alliance with Ansar al-Sharia, the group the Obama administration has fingered for the Benghazi attack.

Just a few weeks ago I reported here the push amongst the “smart set” for the U.S. to engage “moderate Al-Qaeda.”

As I noted:

Understand, this is a continuation of a popular theme amongst the foreign policy “smart set.” See the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” which just a month ago declared all-out jihad on the Egyptian government. Or the New York Times, pitching “moderate” elements of the Iranian regime. Or current CIA director “Jihad” John Brennan calling for the U.S. to build up Hezbollah “moderates.” Or hapless academics proclaiming the “mellowing” of Hamas. Or the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups that, as I have reported here, regularly fight alongside ISIS and al-Qaeda and have even defected to those terror groups.

At this rate can the calls for engaging “moderate ISIS” be far behind?

***

Are there “good” jhadists and “bad” jihadists? Are non-kinetic jihadists less threatening than kinetic jihadists? The answer is no. Dr. Sebastian Gorka explains why on the John Batchelor Radio Show, 31 March 2015. (8 minute audio)

 

UN: Record 25K-Plus Foreigners From 100 Countries Travel to Join ISIS, Al Qaeda

Jake-Bilardi-White-Jihadi-Twitter-640x480

 

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, April 2, 2015:

The number of foreign fighters who have traveled to join the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries has reached a historic level, exceeding 25,000 from over 100 countries, reveals a new U.N. report.

A panel of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against al Qaeda prepared the report for the U.N. Security Council, which was obtained by The Associated Press and Reuters.

The experts found that Iraq and Syria housed most of the foreign fighters.

An estimated 22,000 foreigners linked to ISIS and al Qaeda are reportedly fighting in Iraq and Syria; nearly 6,500 in Afghanistan, hundreds more in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, and about 100 in Somalia.

Moreover, the experts report that foreigners have also joined terrorists in the Sahel countries in North Africa and the Philippines.

Although most of the fighters who traveled to Iraq and Syria joined ISIS, they also linked up with the Syrian al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra Front.

Iraq and Syria have become an “international finishing school for extremists,” the experts said.

The worldwide number of foreign terrorist fighters increased by 71 percent between mid-2014 and March 2015, added the panel, noting that the number of countries the fighters come form has also skyrocketed to over 100 today including nations that have never been linked to al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.

In the report, the experts mentioned that the flow of foreign fighters “is higher than it has ever been historically.”

The total number of foreigner fighters has “risen sharply from a few thousand… a decade ago to more than 25,000 today,” the panel said.

“For the thousands of [foreign fighters] who traveled to the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq… they live and work in a veritable ‘international finishing school’ for extremists, as was the case in Afghanistan during the 1990s,” it added.

A “high number” of the foreign fighters are from Tunisia, Morocco, France, and Russia.

However, there has also been an increase in fighters from the Maldives, Finland, Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, and unnamed countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Defeating ISIS could have the unintended consequence of scattering the foreign fighters across the world, the report warned, adding that some may be recruited by criminal networks.

Efforts to deal with the threat posed by the growing number of foreign fighters should focus on preventing the radicalization, recruitment and travel of the prospective fighters, suggested the U.N. report.

U.S. intelligence officials estimate that more than 150 U.S. citizens and residents have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

Would-be terrorists considered attack on NYPD funeral after Rafael Ramos send-off: authorities

BY JOHN MARZULLI , LARRY MCSHANE:

A pair of terrorist wannabes with Al Qaeda ties pondered bombing a police funeral after the massive turnout of 20,000 law enforcement mourners for an executed NYPD cop, authorities said Thursday.

Former Queens roommates Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, were due in Brooklyn Federal Court for conspiring to detonate homemade explosives “and receive Allah’s blessing,” according to a federal criminal complaint.

The two friends were ordered held without bail after an afternoon hearing where neither said a word.

Velentzas — the married mom of a 5-year-old girl — wore a black hijab into the courtroom. The single Siddiqui was dressed in a green polo shirt with a yellow crest, worn over a long-sleeved black shirt.

Velentzas, in one of many conversations recorded by a undercover investigator, declared that killing a cop was easier than grocery shopping, according to the complaint.

“Sometimes one has to wait in line to buy food,” she was quoted as telling the undercover last December after the cold-blooded killings of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

The demented duo — self-declared citizens of the Islamic State terrorist group — researched the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing in their quest to “make history,” authorities charged.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiDRAWINGS BY JANE ROSENBERG

A courtroom sketch shows (second from l.) Noel Valencia and (second from r.) Asia Siddiqui on Thursday.

“Why we can’t be some bad b—hes?” Velentzas once asked after pulling a knife concealed in her bra.

Velentzas also kept a photo of Osama Bin Laden holding an AK-47 on her phone and praised the 9/11 attacks on Washington and the World

Trade Center, authorities charged.

The two friends “are alleged to have researched how to construct bombs as part of their conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction on American soil,” said John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

Read more at New York Daily News

***

Islamic State’s Dabiq 8 Focuses on Unifying Ummah, Criticizing Islamists

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CSP, by Kyle Shideler, March 31, 2015:

The Islamic State issued it’s eighth edition of the glossy web magazine Dabiq. While most editions focus on some theme or another, Dabiq 8 may be the most clear yet. Each article is clearly selected to carry across the theme that the Islamic State represents the whole of the Muslim Ummah, and that Islamist organizations which purport to operate within a “nationalist” context are not legitimate.

The magazine begins by establishing the Sharia obligations for unity and against factionalism, citing the hadith, “whoever is killed under a blind banner, calling to ‘asabiyyah (tribalism or factionalism) or supporting ‘asabiyyah, then his death is a death of Jahiliyyah.”  Free Fire Blog has previously referenced this hadith, as it forms the basis of the Al Qaeda work “Jihad and the effects of intention upon it” by Sheikh Abul Qadir Abdul Aziz.

Building on this theme, Dabiq quotes “Khalifah” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi from his Ramadan message saying,

“By Allah’s grace- you have a state and a khilafah, which will return your dignity, might, rights, and leadership. It is a state where the Arab and Non-Arab, the white man and black man, the easterner and westerner are all brothers. It is a khilafah that gathered the Caucasian, Indian, Chinese, Shami, Iraqi, Yemeni, Egyptian, Maghribi, American, French, German, and Australian.”

This is a direct rebuttal to analysts who mistakenly stressed racism as a factor expected to impede Boko Haram joining Islamic State, and a general policy of the U.S. government which has stressed the jihad in West Africa as being linked solely to “local grievances”.  The writers of Dabiq 8 stresses, “it was a rejection of nationalism that drove the Mujahidin in Nigeria to give bay’ah to the Islamic State and wage war against the Nigerian Murtaddin (apostates)…” They continue on this theme by applauding the Danish Muslim who targeted free speech cartoonist Lars Vilks and a Copenhagen Synagogue for rejecting a conception of “Danish” citizenship in favor of religious identity.

The writers continue on this theme in order to criticize Al Qaeda’s operation in Syria accusing Jabhat Al-Nusra of allying with Islamist militias who remain focused solely on Syria, rather than global jihad across borders, noting:

The scenario of nationalist “Islamism” working together alongside nationalist secularism to set up a nationalist government with elements of “Islam” and democracy within a constitutional framework is the same scenario that Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have experienced. the crusaders, expecting the eventual division of the two sides over the cake, sit back and wait to support the side more favorable towards their interests against the other…

Although the game is clear to those with a sound understanding of iman and waqi (faith and current affairs), it was unclear to the jihad claimants of sham (the Jawlani front).

The focus then pivots slightly to a discussion of Caliph AbuBakr as-Siddiq (the first Caliph following Mohammed) who prosecuted the “Ridda Wars” and discusses the logic behind As-Siddiq’s unwillingness to compromise with Arab tribes that refused to pay Zakat (a tithe which is one of the pillars of the faith.) The point being raised regards what the Islamic State views as the failure of other Islamic groups to implement the full shariah, and seeking justification for IS’ prosecution of violence against those groups.

This theme is touched on again as the magazine celebrates the swearing of bayah by Boko Haram, the attack on the Tunisian Bardo Museum, and the suicide bombings of two Shiite mosques in Yemen noting:

“May Allah Accept all those mujahidn who fight, massacre and terrorize the Kuffar while not differentiating between them under the influence of irja (an Islamic heresy which is understood to separate Islamic belief from the fulfillment of religious obligations) or on the grounds of nationalism.”

This leads into articles focusing on Islamic State’s expansion into Libya, which relies on these claims to justify IS’s attacks on Islamist militia faction “Libyan Dawn.” In particular the writers criticize the “Manhaj (school of Islamic jurisprudence) of the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing them of attempting to implement Shariah in Libya on a piecemeal basis. In particular AbdelHakim Belhadj, a major Libyan jihadist figure and leader within Libyan Dawn, is labeled as a Murtadd (apostate), which would appear to dispel earlier reports that he may have been aligning with Islamic State.

Islamic State’s quarrel with the Muslim Brotherhood is based on their opposition to the tactic of “gradualism” articulated by Muslim Brotherhood Jurist Yusuf Al Qaradawi, but which draws upon the program established by Sayyid Qutb in his work Milestones, and on the work of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna, both of whom supported utilizing progressive revelation to develop Islamic societies towards the eventual full establishment of Shariah law. Historically, this difference has always been a source of tension, with Islamic State’s predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, coming under criticism from Al Qaeda

Dabiq 8 goes on to provide a substantial criticism of “Ijra” [Irja], the heresy of the Murji’ah, and a term which the Islamic State has utilized to refer to the Brotherhood and its related forces since the Caliphate Declaration which stated:

So let those leaders be ruined. And let that “ummah” they want to unite be ruined – an “ummah” of secularists, democrats, and nationalists… an “ummah” of murji’ah (a sect that excludes deeds from faith), ikhwān (the “Muslim Brotherhood” party), and surūriyyah (a sect influenced by the ikhwān claiming to be Salafī).

***

Jihadology:

Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: The Islamic State — “Dābiq Magazine #8″

NOTE: For previous issues see: #7#6, #5, #4, #3, #2, and #1.

McCaul: ISIS Linked to 29 Terror Plots, Attacks Against West Since Obama’s ‘JV Team’ Comments

jihadi-car-parade-videoshotBreitbart, by EDWIN MORA, March 24, 2015:

WASHINGTON, DC — The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has been linked to “29 terrorist plots or attacks” against the West nearly a year after President Obama called the jihadist group a “JV team,” revealed House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

As ISIS stormed Iraq in January 2014, President Obama dismissed the brutal jihadist organization as a junior varsity (“jayvee team”) terrorist group.

“A year after the president called ISIS the ‘JV team,’ the organization can draw on over 20,000 foreign fighters and has been linked to 29 terrorist plots or attacks targeting the West,” said Chairman McCaul in his opening remarks at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing today.  “And the day the president said the global war on terror was effectively over was the day al Baghdadi created ISIS.”

“ISIS now controls territory the size of Belgium, governs millions of people, draws on billions of dollars in revenue, and commands tens of thousands of foot soldiers,” he added. “Terrorist safe havens have spread across the Middle East and North Africa.”

The chairman went on to note that ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly terrorist attack at a museum in Tunisia, which is located next to Libya where the jihadist group hasestablished a presence.

McCaul said, “The gunmen involved had received training in Libyan terror camps.”

Nearly 20 people were killed in the attack.

Furthermore, the Texas Republican pointed out that ISIS, a Sunni group, has also claimed to be behind the coordinated attack against two Shiite mosques in Yemen, which he said, “killed more than 150 people.”

“Yemen’s instability has led to the evacuation of our remaining forces and will further empower extremists,” he added. “This situation is alarming given that al Qaeda’s premier bomb-makers in [Yemen-based] AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] have been targeting the homeland and Western interests for years.”

“Over the past year, Islamist terrorists have struck Western cities, including Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Copenhagen, and Brussels. We have witnessed the reach of extremists here at home as well,” noted McCaul. “An Ohio-based ISIS sympathizer was arrested in January for plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol. Last week, an ISIS-aligned hacking group posted the names, photos, and addresses of 100 American service members, calling their ‘brothers residing in America’ to attack these individuals.”

Today’s House panel hearing was titled, “A Global Battleground: The Fight Against Islamist Extremism at Home and Abroad.” [statement pdf’s available at hearing link]

Also see:

Report: ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram Training Together

AP Photo/Militant Website, Fil

AP Photo/Militant Website, Fil

Breitbart, by John Hayward, March 24, 2015:

According to Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, the great under-the-radar terror threat comes from an expanse of the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, where ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram are working together to train Western recruits for jihad, including terror attacks in Europe and North America.

“The situation in Mauritania is a powder keg very few people are talking about,” Khan told Fox News.

When the first stories about Boko Haram’s idolization of ISIS broke, some analysts were confident the two terror groups would never work together, because the Islamic State was supposedly too racist to cooperate with their African fan club. That analysis disintegrated completely over the past few months, as ISIS officially embraced Boko Haram as a franchise of their “caliphate.” Operational cooperation, especially in the form of tactical training badly needed by the enthusiastic but sloppy Boko Haram terrorists, would be the next logical step.

Khan’s organization has a source in Mauritania that says at least 80 trainees — including recruits from the U.S., Canada, and Europe — are quartered at the camps, which are located in the sparsely-populated desert interior of the country. “Signs in English can be seen in videos and photos obtained by TRAC inside one of the main camps at the Maatamoulana Mosque, providing unmistakable evidence of westerners’ presence,” writes Fox News.

The joint terrorist training project got a big shot in the arm when Mauritania’s government released five top terrorists following a prison riot in which they took two guards hostage and threatened to not only kill the hostages, but hunt down and slaughter their families as well.  The five were prominent members of al-Qaeda and one of its parent organizations, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.  Several of them have experience with jihadi recruitment and training.

It is not clear from the Fox News report if any of these five are thought to be actively participating in the Mauritania camps, or if their release was more of a morale-booster and propaganda coup for the camp management.  The article does run down a list of headline-grabbing terrorists who made trips to Mauritania, which offers little in the way of amenities for jihadis besides the desert training facility. Suspected veterans of the training program include three Canadians who joined al-Qaeda in a bloody attack on an Algerian gas plant in 2013, a Florida-based cleric who allegedly used his seminary to funnel terrorist recruits to Mauritania, and a French citizen involved in the execution of ISIS hostage Peter Kassig.

As for Boko Haram’s involvement, it is noted that the leader of the Nigerian gang has claimed some of his thugs were trained in Mauritania, and indeed Boko Haram’s ideology was incubated there. “There also are links between Mauritania and Boko Haram evident in its interaction with Al Qaeda for training and the supply lines for finance and weapons,” Khan told Fox News.  “In addition, there are recruitment centers and organized crime networks in Mauritania facilitating ISIS expansion in North and Central Africa.”

Mauritania has also arrested several suspected ISIS terrorists who bragged that the Islamic State was “on its way to that country,” and a major Mauritanian terrorist brigade recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.  It was not merely a rhetorical salute, as a couple of Mauritanian terrorists were subsequently arrested trying to smuggle a load of cash and weapons into Mali.

The Mauritanian terror gangs have been quite active, according to Fox News:

Within Mauritania, there have been several terrorism related incidents waged by jihadists since 2005, including the assassination of four French tourists in Aleg by Al Qaeda, attacks on the Israeli and French embassies, clashes between Al Qaeda members and Mauritanian forces in Tevragh Zeina, the beheading of 12 Mauritanian soldiers, the murder of Christopher Ervin Leggett, a U.S. citizen, the kidnapping of three Spanish citizens, the kidnapping of an Italian couple kidnapped and other embassy attacks that were prevented.

CNN recently ran a disturbing profile of African terrorism that cited Jane’s Defense Weekly’s description of Mauritania as “an aspirational target for jihadist groups due to its military co-operation with France and Algeria.” The World Policy blog proposed Mauritania as part of an urgently-needed African “security belt,” and wondered how al-Qaeda’s interests in Africa would respond to the encroachment of ISIS — “will AQ affiliates strengthen when challenged, or will they pledge bayat [allegiance] to IS like Boko Haram has done?”  If all three groups are cooperating at terror camps in Mauritania, we may have the beginnings of an answer to that question, and it’s not a good answer.