Islam and Free Speech: Missing the Point in Garland

pic_giant_050415_SM_Garland-SWAT-Mohammed2

The purpose of the free-speech event was to highlight the threat posed by Islamic supremacists.

National Review, by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY May 4, 2015:

‘Even free-speech enthusiasts are repulsed by obnoxious expression.” That acknowledgment prefaces the main argument I’ve made in Islam and Free Speech, a just-released pamphlet in the Broadside series from Encounter Books. Alas, in view of last night’s deadly events at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, the argument is more timely than I’d hoped.

In Garland, two jihadists opened fire on a free-speech event that was certain to be offensive to many Muslims. The gunmen wounded a security guard before being killed when police returned fire. The jihadists are reported to be roommates who resided in Phoenix. As this is written, only one of them has been identified: Elton Simpson. The wounded security guard, Bruce Joiner, was treated and released. Joiner works for the Garland Independent School District, which owns the Culwell Center.

Simpson was apparently what my friend, terrorism analyst Patrick Poole, describes as a “known wolf.” That’s a radical Muslim whom the Obama administration and the media are wont to dismiss as an anonymous, unconnected loner but who, in fact, has previously drawn the attention of national-security agents over suspected jihadist ties.

Simpson previously attempted to travel to Africa, apparently to join al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda franchise. He was reportedly convicted of lying to FBI agents, though a judge found the evidence insufficient to prove he was trying to join the terror group. The al-Shabaab connection seems salient now: Police are investigating tweets about the Garland event prior to the violence, allegedly posted by a young al-Shabaab jihadist who is said to be an American citizen.

The Garland free-speech event was a contest, sponsored by Pamela Geller’s New York–based American Freedom Defense Initiative. Participants were invited to draw cartoons of Islam’s prophet, in homage to the Charlie Hebdo artists killed by jihadists in France. Besides Ms. Geller, the featured speaker at the event was Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliamentarian whose life has been threatened for years for speaking openly about the scriptural moorings of Islamic terrorism. Al-Qaeda has publicly called for Wilders to be killed, and a notorious Australian imam called on Muslims to behead him because anyone who “mocks, laughs [at], or degrades Islam” must be killed by “chopping off his head.”

In Garland, activists opposed to the violence endorsed by Islamic doctrine and to the repression inherent in sharia law were invited to draw caricatures of Mohammed, with a $10,000 prize awarded to the “best” one. The contest was sure to yield images offensive to Muslims just as transgressive artist Andres Serrano had to know the public exhibition of his Piss Christ photograph would offend Christians.

Yet, as I argue in Islam and Free Speech, it will not do to blame the messenger for the violence. The shooting last night was not caused by the free-speech event any more than the Charlie Hebdo murders were caused by derogatory caricatures, or the rioting after a Danish newspaper’s publication of anti-Islam cartoons was caused by the newspaper. The violence is caused by Islamic supremacist ideology and its law that incites Muslims to kill those they judge to have disparaged Islam.

It will not do to blame the messenger for the violence. The shooting last night was not caused by the free-speech event any more than the Charlie Hebdo murders were caused by derogatory caricatures.

Christians were offended by Piss Christ, but they did not respond by killing the “artist” or blowing up the exhibiting museum. If any had, they would have been universally condemned for both violating society’s laws and betraying Christian tenets. In such a case, we would have blamed the killers, not the provocative art. There can be no right against being provoked in a free society; we rely on the vigorous exchange of ideas to arrive at sensible policy. And the greater the threat to liberty, the more necessary it is to provoke. 

The threat to liberty in this instance is sharia blasphemy law. A bloc of Muslim-majority countries, with the assistance of the Obama administration (led by the U.S. State Department, particularly under Hillary Clinton), is trying to use international law to impose Islam’s repressive law to make it illegal to subject Islam to negative criticism. No sensible person favors obnoxious expression or gratuitous insult. But as I contend in the pamphlet, there is a big difference between saying “I object to this illustration of insensitivity and bad taste” and saying “I believe that what repulses me should be against the law.”

Ms. Geller’s detractors are predictably out in droves today, prattling about how the violence would not have happened were it not for the offensive display. No one would feel deprived by the lack of sheer insult, they say, so wouldn’t it be better to compromise free-expression principles in exchange for achieving peaceful social harmony? But that line of thinking puts violent extortionists in charge of what we get to speak about — an arrangement no free society can tolerate.

It is very unfortunate that this debate is so often triggered by forms of expression that non-jihadists will find insulting and therefore that even anti-jihadists will find uncomfortable to defend. This grossly understates the stakes involved. This is about much more than cartoons. As I outline in Islam and Free Speech, classical sharia forbids most artistic representations of animate life, not just expressions that are obviously sacrilegious. More significantly, it deems as blasphemous not just expressions that insult the prophet and Islam itself but also

critical examinations of Islam . . . especially if they reach negative conclusions or encourage unbelief[;] proselytism of religions other than Islam, particularly if it involves encouraging Muslims to abandon Islam[; and any] speech or expression [that] could sow discord among Muslims or within an Islamic community. And truth is not a defense.

It is not the purpose of Pam Geller, Geert Wilders, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, and other activists to insult Muslims. Their mission is to awaken us to the challenge of Islamic supremacists — not just the violent jihadists but also the powerful Islamist forces behind the jihad. Islamists are attempting to coerce us into abandoning our commitment to free expression. They are pressuring us to accommodate their totalitarian system rather than accepting assimilation into our liberty culture.

You may not like the provocateurs’ methods. Personally, I am not a fan of gratuitous insult, which can antagonize pro-Western Muslims we want on our side. But let’s not make too much of that. Muslims who really are pro-Western already know, as Americans overwhelmingly know, that being offended is a small price to pay to live in a free society. We can bristle at an offense and still grasp that we do not want the offense criminalized.

It would be easy, in our preening gentility, to look down our noses at a Mohammed cartoon contest. But we’d better understand the scope of the threat the contest was meant to raise our attention to — a threat triggered by ideology, not cartoons. There is in our midst an Islamist movement that wants to suppress not only insults to Islam but all critical examination of Islam. That movement is delighted to leverage the atmosphere of intimidation created by violent jihadists, and it counts the current United States government among its allies.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

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.

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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.

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

***

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]

Terrorist Groups Take Advantage of South African Violence

82377795_dd6b3c8f-43f3-45a5-9f18-975676c3558eCSP, by Joshua Kraus, April 23, 2015:

In South Africa,  which is sometimes affectionately refereed to as a “rainbow nation,” gangs of black South African residents have taken machetes and torches to immigrants accused of taking scarce jobs and undermining an already unstable economy. According to the South African defense minister, this latest string of violence has killed at least seven people this month.

The anti-immigration violence is not new to South Africa. This type of bloodshed took place in 2008, killing 62 and displacing another 100,000 people. The world awoke to the type of atrocities that were happening in South Africa when Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave, a native of Mozambique, was photographed while being burned alive. His murder investigation was recently closed after a very questionable police investigation unsurprisingly resulted in no witnesses.

Both Islamic State affiliate Boko Haram and Al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab have referenced the riots in recent propaganda statements.  Boko Haram has threatened that if the South African government does not limit this violence and stop the inexcusable murdering of Nigerians, it will execute all South Africans residing in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and other surrounding countries. The embassies in those countries are being threatened as well.

Al-Shabaab has posted messages on social media sites with phrases explaining that “We (Al-Shabaab) will enter Durban” and “For all the foreign lives lost in SA (South Africa) there is a price to pay”.

Why have Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab insinuated themselves into the South Africa “xenophobia” story?

Recently, Kenya’s military and its people have waged character assassinations against the Somali people in retaliation for the attack on Garissa University that killed 148 people. Kenya sent a request to the United Nations to shut down Dadaab, one of the biggest refugee camps in Kenya for Somalia people. Kenyan security officials previously described Dadaab as a breeding ground for terror and a primary recruiting ground for Al-Shabaab in recent years. The camp’s house would force out more than 350,000 Somalia inhabitants back into Somalia. This perception of repression would only feed into the plight of the Somali people as their government has yet to defend them. Al-Shabaab is sure to take advantage of the maltreatment of the Somali people and form a tight knit community whose mission is to advance sharia law.

According to Aden Duale, a member of the Garissa Township National Assembly, Al-Shabaab is said to train in camps such as Daab and further conduct radicalization classes and suicide bombers from the camp. Both Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab’s advancement of protecting their own people from “xenophobia” can possibly lead to further destabilization of established governments due to the lack of respect for a class of people.

Jihadist organizations such as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab are using classic insurgency tactics to radicalize a group of people and create homegrown terrorism. The refusal by the Kenyan government to acknowledge homegrown terrorism only gives more precedence for Al-Shabaab to operate safely and securely in refugee camps.

This refusal to acknowledge homegrown terrorism can translate to the global jihad movement within the United States. Since 1991, the U.S. State Department has imported more than 100,000 Somali nationals directly from United Nations refugee camps into U.S. cities and towns. According to State Department estimates, they arrive at a rate of 5,000 to 12,000 per year.

Boko Haram Re-Brands as Islamic State in West Africa

Nigerian special forces prepare to fight Boko Haram in Diffa, March 26, 2015. The country's army has reportedly severed Boko Haram’s access to arms suppliers, forcing the insurgents to resort to less sophisticated weaponry. REUTERS/Joe Penney

Nigerian special forces prepare to fight Boko Haram in Diffa, March 26, 2015. The country’s army has reportedly severed Boko Haram’s access to arms suppliers, forcing the insurgents to resort to less sophisticated weaponry. REUTERS/Joe Penney

CSP, by Nicholas Hanlon, April 23, 2015:

There is a lot of relatively good news on the progress of the Nigerian army in it’s efforts to defeat Boko Haram.  Here is where all of the nit-picking about the differences between IS and Boko Haram will mean even less.  Boko Haram was lionized for it’s ability to take and hold territory.  However, because of it’s primary driver as an internationally connected Islamist group that is ideologically driven, it will adapt to a new menu of tactics that resemble Al Shabaab.  This is where the relationship beetween IS and Boko Haram becomes significant.

The signal is the re-brand as Islamic State in West Africa.  Analysts were hard pressed to see the tactical advantages that the allegiance between IS and Boko Haram could afford the West African jihadist movement in Nigeria.  The counter terrorism battle space in Nigeria will mutate as former Boko Haram fighters disperse and attempt to blend back in to the population.  The question of whether al Shabaab will also pledge allegiance to IS will arise with more frequency in the coming months.

As Boko Haram (now Islamic State in West Africa) is forced to shift tactics, Boko Haram’s pledge to IS will pay off.  When al Shabaab held territory they resembled Boko Haram.  When they control territory they raise money like a state.  When they are defeated militarily they operate like a terror group.  The make up and the mission of these groups do not change.  They all want to hold territory.  That factor does change.  When it does, each jihadist group adapts.

What al Shabaab Hopes for Your Town

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CSP, by Nicholas Hanlon, April 14, 2015:

After the recent large scale attack in Garissa Kenya that was preceded by an assassination in Uganda, two massacres in Mandera near the Somali border of Kenya, and a gratuitous made-for-film raid of Mpekatoni near the Kenyan coast, al Shabaab has now slain seventeen people at the higher education ministry in Mogadishu.  Early reports hint at a level of sophistication where the security wall was first compromised by a car bomb allowing armed Shabaab fighters to enter.

Jan2014Setting aside al Shabaab’s long held international connections with al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other groups plus their ability to recruit from as far away as the United States, take a moment to look at what this series of attacks says about a jihadist movement’s ability to strike the home front in a regional context.  Remember that Shabaab, Boko Haram, and IS have all held varying quantities of territory.  Al Shabaab was the first to lose major tracts of territory along with the resources and logistical advantages including the holding of major coastal port cities.

Al Shabaab began as an outgrowth of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia.  When, as a local Somali Islamist group they were defeated by the Somali government with the help of Ethiopia, factions of the ICU formed al Shabaab in 2006 and began to take large swaths of territory in the southern half of the country.  For a long time they controlled two strategically important ports, Kismayo and Barawe, where they could make a lot of money and import weapons and fighters.  Kenyan counter terrorism efforts along with the African Union mission, AMISOM, put boots on the ground, took ground in both cities and held it.  This was a strategic short term blow to the finances and logistical benefits enjoyed by al Shabaab.  Attacks in Kenya and Uganda showed an increasing diversity of tactics.  Al Qaeda style targeting and bombing, raids of armed gunmen, assassinations from motorcycle drive-by’s, and car bombs are all part of the al Shabaab play book.

Oct2014

Describing al Shabaab as a regionally focused group has it’s downsides.  Where al Shabaab saw defeat on the ground they were able to export the violent form of Jihad through out East Africa.  The bombing in Uganda that killed 76 World Cup fans in Kampala in 2010 had devastating consequences with an Al Qaeda-like signature that displayed the advantage Shabaab’s relationship with the group.  Al Shabaab has respectable propaganda and social media capability.  The group makes clear in their words, actions, and with their targets that they want Shariah law imposed and Christians and non-Muslims should either be submissive or dead.

It would be amiss to interpret the military defeat of al Shabaab in regions of Somalia as the main cause of their diaspora of diverse attacks across the region.  Yes, there is a cause and effect there but not one of such simplistic description.  Al Shabaab’s resilience and ability to adapt and survive is largely rooted in their religious ability to attach meaningfulness to killing.  Media and even regional officials often try to explain Shabaab’s recruitment of youth as exploitation of the poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised.  That is a tactic and a factor but not the answer to the equation.

Late last year, National Defense University issued a report on the rising Islamist threat in Tanzania.  Citing smaller scale and under-reported Shabaab attacks, Dr. Andre LaSage had this to say,

“Thus far, the attacks in Tanzania have been relatively unsophisticated.They have involved crude homemade explosives, handguns, and buckets of acid; they have been focused on poorly protected targets of opportunity;and they have not resulted in mass casualties. However, as events over the past few years in neighboring Kenya have demonstrated, today’s seemingly minor and manageable threats can evolve quickly into something far more lethal and intractable.”

Imagine being a Ugandan, Kenyan, Somali, or Tanzanian citizen.  Each of these societies are largely Western and share a very similar idea of what is normal with Europeans and Americans.  They have university, work, transportation, courthouses, and restaurants just like us.  They also live on the front lines of a religious war where some Imams recruit their children and raise them toassassinate parents to symbolize their coming conquest of the West.

After ascertaining scope and behavior patterns within East Africa, reconsider the international scope of this jihadist movement  and their threats to export the jihad to the U.S.  The regional pattern of al Shabaab’s adaptation will hint at the future behavior of Boko Haram and IS in the territories they hold in the near future.  Also keep in mind that these movements follow a message that is proliferated globally through the internet.  Al Shabaab has made clear that they want the experience of citizens in Bloomington Minnesota to resemble the experiences of citizens of Nairobi shopping at the Westgate Mall.  Al Shabaab, IS, Al Qaeda, AQIM, AQAP, and Boko Haram are all part of the global jihadist movement and all have made threats against the U.S.  What are now battlefronts in Africa will be the new normal if those who sign up for the global jihad have their way.

The Butchers of Islam

PersecutedChristians-2By Justin O. Smith:

Christians, Jews and other religious minorities, such as Yazidis, Turkmen and Shabak, are currently being systematically exterminated across the Middle East and North Africa, especially in Iraq and Syria. As the Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al Shabaab repeatedly boast of horrific attacks on these religious minorities, the Christians and other victims are far less concerned with meaningless “Religious Freedom Acts” signed by Obama (Aug 2014), than they are with simply surviving; they need righteous world leaders, who will fight the evil marching towards every nation worldwide __ the evil of the oppressive, totalitarian ideology of Islam.

On April 2nd, 2015, the international community witnessed 147 Christian students at Garissa University in Kenya singled out and murdered by Al Shabaab Islamofascist terrorists. And then on Easter Sunday, Islamic State fascist thugs destroyed the Church of the Virgin Mary in northeastern Syria, marking the latest in a long series of attacks against Christians during this decade.

Statistics from numerous sources, like Open Doors and PEW Research Center, show that Christians, who once represented 20% of the Middle East’s population have been reduced to 5% of the population in the Middle East. It is also safe to say that nearly three million Christians, in both Iraq and Syria, now number less than a combined total of 300,000, as they have fled or been slaughtered.

In January 2015, forty-five Christian churches were burned in Niamey, Niger alone, and two thousand people were murdered in the town of Baga, Nigeria, which was burned to the ground (BBC). According to Open Borders, an organization dedicated to “serving persecuted Christians worldwide”, roughly 3.2 million residents in Nigeria have left their homes, since the rise of the Islamic terror army of Boko Haram. For the same reason, thousands of Christians are evacuating Diffa, the border region between Niger and Nigeria, and seeking refuge at the military camps at Zinder.

Whenever Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and the Islamic State occupy an area, a common and terrible theme emerges, as they demand that the people identify themselves as Muslim or Christian, Allahu Akbar or Alleluia. A great number of these Christians truly live their faith, and they refuse to deny Jesus in order to save themselves. They die as martyrs for Christ.

In January of this year, David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, reported that 2014 was the most violent year of global Christian persecution. Curry also released the World Watch List, which named North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea and Nigeria the nations that are most hostile towards Christians. The overwhelming common thread in nine of these is the Islamic ideology.

Since July 2014, the Islamic State has demanded Iraq’s Christians must convert to Islam, pay extra taxes or be killed. The Islamic State has massacred and enslaved thousands of Christians and followers of the ancient Yazidi faith, murdered hundreds more from the Shabak religious minority, ransacked the tomb of Jonah in Mosul, destroyed a 7th Century Greek Orthodox Church in Tikrit, bombed a memorial of the Armenian genocide in Dair Alzour, Syria and beheaded 21 Coptic Christians in Libya.

These Islamic savages surpass the Nazis and Communists in their depravity. Islamofascist “soldiers” teach Muslim boys how to slice off the heads of the kafir, the infidels, the Christians and the enemies of Allah. They bury people alive and butcher little children. They have delivered hundreds of girls and women as sex-slaves and unwilling “brides”, torturing and raping them, as reported by the International Center for Investigative Reporting.

Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Ca) is personally troubled by these atrocities. She is a first generation American and a Chaldean Catholic, whose mother is Armenian and whose father is an Assyrian Christian from Iraq. She recently told the ‘Washington Examiner':

“We’re coming up to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide and when we look over our shoulders at history, we say ‘never again, we will never forget.’ So from both sides of the family, exactly what my grandmother described and all the elders of the family escaped is [again] taking place.”

Terrorized Christians and religious minorities unable to reach safety have been begging for help from anyone, and while some U.S. leaders have expressed the dire need to help them, so far, the vaunted international community has not acted forcefully enough to stop these Islamofascists from annihilating Christians and others. Their efforts have been small and futile, providing insufficient aid, as this new Holocaust is continuing to grow.

Kaldo Oghanna, an Assyrian Christian who helped train fellow Christians to combat these Islamic terrorists, told the Wall Street Journal, “No one has protected the minorities, and no one will in the future.”
Some experts, such as Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute, have called for “hard protections” and “safe zones” for people without the ability to protect themselves. Although $1.6 billion from the U.S. National defense Authorization Act has been allocated to aid Christians, ethnic minorities and their “local forces” in the Nineveh Plain and surrounding regions, this is far from fully addressing the broader scope of the problem, as the progeny of terrorists continue to ply the family trade across the globe.

How much longer will the world leaders continue to look the other way? When will the U.S. and Europe and the world’s Christian nations do something substantial and concrete to defend and protect our Christian brothers and sisters, who are persecuted, exiled and slain solely for being Christian?

On Veteran’s Day of 2011 at the Preserving Freedom Conference in Madison, TN,  Dr. Justin Akujieze revealed that the entire northern half of Nigeria had already been, in essence, conquered by the Islamists, as they have unilaterally declared Sharia Law without comment, debate or media discussion. At the same time, Muslims were committing genocide against the Christian Igbo tribes of Nigeria by burning them alive by the thousands, and these Islamofascists are now moving to control the entire country. As Dr. Justin appealed to those in the audience for their help in saving the rest of Nigeria from this Islamofascist onslaught, the emotion in his voice rang true, “Today is the last day and we must not wither. We must confront this head-on and together we will win.”

The Butchers of Islam have created a global crisis. They are an existential threat to families, human rights and religious communities in the United States and Europe too, not just in the Middle East and Africa, and as such, America and any other rightfully concerned nations must wage a relentless, vicious, intense war against them and brutally obliterate them wherever they are found: Destroy the destroyers of everything righteous, those lovers of Death, or continue doing next to nothing and watch Christianity in many regions become a footnote in history.

***

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…

New-York-state

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.

third-district-map

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.

2000px-Texas_flag_map

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:

 

Al-Shabaab Attack University in Kenya – Kill 15, Take Hostages

Kenya-Al-Shabaab-Attack--Mpeketon-IP_2

Update: Nearly 150 dead in Al-Shabaab school attack, Kenyan officials say

Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab has attacked a University in Kenya, reportedly killing Christians and allowing Muslims to go free.

Clarion Project, April 2, 2015:

Garissa University in Kenya has been attacked by the Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab. At least 15 people have been killed and 65 injured. An unknown number of hostages have been taken by the terrorists.

Four critically wounded people have been airlifted to hospital in the capital Nairobi.

At press time Kenyan security forces had laid siege to the University and were engaged in a shoot-out with the militants. Of th 815 students on campus, 550 remain unaccounted for.

Gunmen attacked before dawn on Thursday morning local time. Several hours later Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses reported that the militants were moving through the campus dormitories and shooting anyone they thought to be Christian. Joel Ayora, a witness to the attack said that the gunmen burst into the morning Christian prayers and opened fire, before they “proceeded to the hostels, shooting anybody they came across except their fellows, the Muslims.”

It is reported that Al-Shabaab then took Christian hostages, allowing Muslim students to leave.

One survivor, Japhet Mwala, told AFP We were sleeping when we heard a loud explosion that was followed by gunshots and everyone started running for safety.”

“There are those who were not able to leave the hostels where the gunmen headed and started firing. I am lucky to be alive because I jumped through the fence with other students.”

In reponse to the attack, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the expedited recruitment of 10,000 police recruits whose enrollment was pending.

He ordered the inspector general of police to ensure that the recruits “promptly report for training at the Kenya Police College, Kiganjo. I take full responsibility for this directive. We have suffered unnecessarily due to shortage of security personnel. Kenya badly needs additional officers, and I will not keep the nation waiting.”

Al-Shabaab has long been waging an insurgency against the government in Somalia. It targets Kenya since that country sent troops to Somalia to aid the government.

Yet in February Al-Shabaab released a video threatening to shift its attack to the USA and the UK. It specifically said it would target malls, in a copy of the the 2013 Westgate mall attack.

Despite the loss of Al-Shabaab’s leader to a US air strike in September 2014, the group carried out an attack on a Kenyan bus in November of that year, killing 28 people, again separating and killing non-Muslims.

al Shabaab Assassinates Ugandan Prosecutor of 2010 World Cup Bombing Case

Part-PAR-Par8135717-1-1-0CSP, by Nicholas Hanlon, April 1, 2015:

Ugandan prosecutor Joan Kagezi was in her car with her children when men tailing her by motorcycle drove by and shot her twice.  She was the chief prosecutor in the al Shabaab case involving 13 men connected to the 2010 suicide bombing that killed 76 people who were watching the World Cup.  One American was killed by the al Shabaab attack.  The U.S. has recently shared intelligence with officials in Kampala about fears of an attack.  Security precautions are being taken for the coming Easter holiday.  Citizens are being warned to be vigilant and avoid large crowds.

It is important to understand that al Shabaab is almost always identified in media as ‘al Qaeda linked’ because of training by al Qaeda veterans who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as formal allegiance.  Al Shabaab represents the same threat as al Qaeda but more importantly, they are significant players in the global jihad movement for several reasons.  First, al Shabaab is wired in to al Qaeda’s networks across Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Central Asia.  Second, al Shabaab has been highly successful in recruiting from the United States and has threatened the U.S.  That means they have trained fighters with U.S. passports that can travel internationally.  Third, their North American training capability is useful to IS as well.  Finally, al Shabaab was the first group to receive and train the Boko Haram faction Ansaru which connects them to the most deadly jihadist sub-group in the world.

In a recent interview, CIA director, John Brennan, committed to the narrative created during the 2012 presidential campaign that this is the season of al Qaeda’s demise.  The interviewer, Chris Wallace pushed director Brennan on the question citing that groups like IS are symptoms of al Qaeda.  Wallace suggested that groups like IS are merely offshoots with different names and to pretend that tactical victories against ‘al Qaeda central’ meant an end to the threat of militant Islamists was misleading.   Further it ignores the connections, relationships, goals, and ideals that al Shabaab, IS, AQIM, AQAP, Boko Haram, and the Taliban all share with al Qaeda. Brennan did not use the opportunity to correct the record.

To downplay the threat of al Qaeda ‘central’ as being largely defeated is no comfort to the family of prosecutor Joan Kagezi.  Mrs. Kagezi fought terrorism as the head of Uganda’s directorate of public prosecution’s anti-terrorism and war crimes division.  The battle space in combating terrorism in East Africa is unique because of this specific type of attack.  Global jihadist groups hold territory nearby, recruit in, and conduct small attacks and assassinations within civil Western societies fighting to build judiciaries with rule of law to uphold Western values.  How would the U.S. administration understand and characterize Islamist jihadi threats if American prosecutors faced the same risks as our partners in Uganda and Kenya?

Also see:

Will al Shabaab Join Islamic State?

1321364230CSP, by Nicholas Hanlon, March 18, 2015:

The past weeks of debate regarding the relationship of Boko Haram and IS paints a picture of the how Western analysts weigh relationships between Sunni Islamic movements.  Most analysis in the media weighed tactical considerations that proved to be superficial in the end.

The overarching predictor of behavior for the allegiance between Boko Haram and IS was their strict religious interpretation of Islamic Law.  This is why the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy so confidently predicted the acceptance of allegiance from Boko Haram by IS.

The tactical superficialities often discussed included egos among leadership in the groups, Arab racism toward black Africans, and propaganda ploys made in desperation.  All of these lines of inquiry are factors that merit assessment but ultimately they are symptoms.   Good intelligence analysis should not resemble an after action report.  It should predict behavior in order to prevent strategic surprise.

One of the symptoms or tactical superficialities that came into focus just before the alliance was the upgrade in Boko Haram’s media capability.  This led many to speculate that they had help and training from IS for their propaganda division.  The assistance could have as easily come from al Shabaab.  Al Shabaab has long had an impressive media capability but the latest video on their invasion of Mpeketoni in Eastern Kenya seems to be a leap forward none the less.  If the propaganda videos released by each group serve a purpose, it is to teach us about tactics and goals.  Emphasize the goals over the tactics and you will have a better handle on behavior.

It has been the over-emphasis on tactics that have cost us the big picture.  Again, it was strict religious interpretation which trumped racism that U.S. intelligence officials said would prevent an allegiance between Boko Haram and IS.  The Ansaru faction of Boko Haram for example came from the mind of Mokhtar Belmokhtar (of AQIM at the time).  The media picked up on Ansuru’s condemnation of Boko Haram’s horrific tactics.  If one were to be specific, Ansaru’s issue was with Boko Haram’s horrific treatment of it’s own members.  Not infidels generally.  In fact, by Belmokhtar’s design, Ansaru was meant to be a regional actor where Boko Haram was local.  Maaman Nur led Ansaru and connected with al Shabaab between 2009 and 20011.  Nur, like Abubakar Shekau, was a disciple of Muhammed Yousef.  Many of Yousef’s followers joined Al Qaeda after his death.

This is all to say that the things that divide these groups do not deter them from their long term goals.  There are now hints that Al Qaeda linked al Shabaab will be the next to pledge to IS.  We can continue to ask if tactical factors will cause significant divisions.  One of the big question that remains is whether alliances between these groups will strengthen them tactically.

Despite military success of western alliances in Nigeria, Somalia, or the Middle East, these allegiances will strengthen these Sunni Islamist groups.  In one sense, they already have because policy makers have alluded themselves that the different banners under which global jihadists fight are more significant than they seem.  Now, as they move toward one banner with four globally connected Jihadist groups holding territory (Taliban, Boko Haram, IS, al Shabaab) the threat will extrapolate.

Consider the ten thousand fighters from Western Europe living in democratic societies whose beliefs caused them to heed the call to battle once IS declared the Caliphate and gave them and accessible place to live out their belief.  Success is a great propaganda and recruiting tool.  Every new place they can paint the black flag of Jihad on the map, more will rally to their banner.

Also see:

Jihadi John Identified as Mohammed Emwazi

February 26, 2015 / /

Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988 and moved to the UK in 1994. He was raised in a middle class family in Queens Park, London, UK. He is also graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming in 2009. Emwazi’s family was at least considered lower middle class and some reporting states upper middle class. This puts him a far cry from the underprivileged stereotype that US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf calls underprivileged without opportunity individual.

Jihadi John aloneMohammed Emwazi AKA: Jihad John

Source: ISIS Study Group

Emwazi already had terrorist associations dating back to at least 2005 as a small group of people he was associated with had links to individuals that were linked to personalities involved in the attempted 21 July 2005 subway bombings in London. He became noticed after his association with Bilal el-Berjawi became known. Bilal el-Berjawi was already a known terrorism personality associated with Al Shabaab in UK circles before his death in a US drone strike in Somalia. Emwazi himself attempted to travel to Tanzania and is believed to have been attempting to join or train with Somalia based Al Shabaab.

Mohammed Emwazi also has an alias Muhammad ibn Muazzam which he was identified under in 2010 by the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html). This is also something that is associated with terrorist activity and he had done this while traveling to Tanzania in August 2009. The infamous Jihad John has numerous connections to terrorist personalities in Al Shabaab or sympathizers in the UK.

An associate of Emwazi trained with Al Shabaab in 2007 and was under the program TPIMS (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures). Ibrahim Magag was a known financier and forged passports. TPIMS is a program that involves restrictions including overnight residence at a specified address, GPS tracking, reporting requirements, restrictions on travel, movement and association, communication, finance, work and study. Magag was able to escape by taking a taxi. His whereabouts are unknown and is possible and likely he left the country. His ability to forge passports definitely could have assisted in the ability exit the country.

Police Launch Manhunt for ‘Terror Suspect’ Who Went Missing on Boxing Day…While Under Close Surveillance

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255394/Ibrahim-Magag-Police-launch-manhunt-terror-suspect-went-missing-Boxing-Day–close-surveillance.html

Ibrahim Magag, 28, absconded from a terrorism prevention and investigation measure noticeIbrahim Magag

Source: The Guardian

Two more associates were of high enough value to have been targets in US drone strikes in Somalia. Bilal el-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr were also associated with Mohammed Emwazi while he lived in the UK. Bilal el-Berjawi was a senior Al Qaeda operative in the Somalia region and fought with AL Shabaab. He had traveled between terrorist organizations in Africa and the UK at least five times before having his citizenship revoked in 2010. He and Sakr had traveled to Kenya in 2009, but were sent back to the UK under investigation and then Sakr fled the UK in October 2009.

Terrorist Who Radicalized ISIS Executioner Jihadi John Passed Freely Between UK and African Terror Hot Spots for Three Years

http://www.capitalbay.com/news/733232-terrorist-who-radicalised-isis-executioner-jihadi-john-passed-freely-between-uk-and-african-terror-hot-spots-for-three-years.html

261E8D3C00000578-2970392-Bilal_al_Berjawi_Capitalbay

Bilal el-Berjawi

Source: Capital Bay

Bilal was associated with a key figure in the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Bilal was a recruiter and trainer for Al Shabaab and likely a commander at the time of his death in January 2012 in the vicinity of Mogadishu. Mohamed Sakr was killed by another drone strike in Somalia in February 2012.

British Al Qaeda Member Killed in US Drone Attack in Somalia

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jan/22/british-al-qaida-suspect-drone-somalia

Mohamed Sakr-thebureauinvestigatesMohamed Sakr

Source: The Bureau Investigates

Emwazi’s computer programming skills are also something that sets him apart from the unskilled, uneducated individual Ms Harf talked about. His technical skills are likely involved in the production of the horrid execution videos that he stars in. He is more than the “star” of these gruesome productions, he likely is acting in a directorial capacity as well as editing the final production. There is a strong possibility that he is directly associated with Ahmed Abousamra that is a key figure in the Al Hayat Media Center. Jihad John is more like a public spokesperson than he is anything else. That is why he appears in the videos so frequently or does voice overs for them.

There is a high probability that if Jihad John is located that key figures within Al Hayat Media Center may be in close proximity such as Ahmed Abousamra making Jihad John an even higher value target. Abousamra is a central figure in the social media and propaganda machine of the Islamic State and they likely collaborate in some fashion on the productions.

The Man Behind the ISIS Media Curtain Ahmad Abousamra

The Coalition Forces should stop being concerned with bringing him to justice through a court system and should be more concerned with his direct elimination. He has been located on more than one instance by an armed unmanned aerial vehicle which could have launched a hellfire missile to kill the terrorist spokesperson. Mohammed Emwazi is not a criminal he is a terrorist combatant regardless if he takes part in actual fighting. It is highly doubtful he takes place in any actual combat as their other spokesman Abu Mousa who was killed in combat at Taqba Air Base in Syria.

Taqba Air Base and The Death of Abu Mousa

The Islamic State isn’t likely to take the chance of losing their posterchild for recruiting and propaganda in combat action as they lost Abu Mousa shortly after his remarks about flying the flag of the Islamic State over the White House. He died like a week later. Jihad John may play tough guy on the screen but he is likely not such a tough guy off the screen.

He was earlier identified as former British Rapper Abdel-Majed Bary shortly after the first execution video came out of American journalist James Foley. Several images reportedly showed Bary holding images of him holding a severed head in Raqqa, Syria where the Islamic State had massacred Syrian military personnel and placed 50 of their heads on a fence in town center. There was some speculation that this was not the same person as in the execution videos as Jihad John has a lazy left eye. Sometimes so lazy it looks as if he can’t keep it open.

Connections to Emwazi before his move to Syria in 2012 were to Al Shabaab figures and likely the organization itself prior to the harassment he was supposed to have endured on his trip to Tanzania. The connections to Abousamra and Islamic State came in 2012 after he joined the terror organization in 2012. As we have pointed out in previous articles the Islamic State makes assessments of recruits based on not only their potential fighting skills, but also their technical skills. Emwazi’s computer technical skills likely scored him a non fighting position within the organization and has made him a death cult start within its ranks and to potential new recruits. A spokesman for CAGE had tried stating that Emwazi was driven to radicalization due to harassment by MI5, but as we have shown his ties to known terrorist personalities date back to as early as 2005, but he came up on the radar in 2009.

Jihad John Connections

Mohammed Emwazi connections

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Foley Executioner Identified as abdel-Majed Abdel Bary

Links to Related Articles:

British Muslims on Safari Stopped by MI5

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html

ISIS Militant ‘Jihadi John’ Identified, US Officials Say

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/middleeast/isis-jihadi-john-identity/index.html

al Shabaab Calls for Attacks in the West

Published on Feb 22, 2015 by EnGlobal News World

Group behind Somali mall attack calls to target the West. Reaction from former FBI special agent Tim Clemente

 

Watch the new Al Shabaab video at Jihaology.net: “The Westgate Siege – Retributive Justice”

 

CSP, by Phil Kittock, Feb. 23, 2015:

One day after a double-bombing in Mogadishu, al-Shabaab released a video calling for attacks on malls in the West including the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The video addressed the deadly 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Kenya which killed over 60 people and lasted four days. At the end of the video, a masked figure asks:

“If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world?”

He goes on to name several western malls, before encouraging viewers to “hurry up, hasten towards heaven and do not hesitate.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has said that US intelligence has not yet identified a credible threat, but urged shoppers to exercise caution in light of the video. The Mall of America has implemented heightened security, according to their statement. However, the lack of a credible, organized threat does not preclude the possibility of a “lone wolf” attack on any of the aforementioned sites or others throughout the West. A lone gunman or small group could wreak havoc in a soft target such as a major shopping mall before being taken down by law enforcement personnel. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has the largest Somali population in the US, and has been a recruiting ground for al-Shabaab in the past. However, US officials currently do not believe that extremists within the country are likely to respond to this video with an attack.

This threatening video serves as evidence that al-Shabaab will continue to pursue both local objectives in Somalia as well as global jihad against the West. The group emerged as a militia aligned with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Mogadishu in 2006 and splintered off as an independent organization after Ethiopian forces dismantled the ICU. Under former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab announced its formal relationship with al-Qaeda. Despite this shift towards a balance of international and national interests, most of al-Shabaab’s attacks have come in East Africa- particularly in countries involved in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which has collaborated with Somali forces to drive al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu and the key port of Kismayo. Godane was killed in September of 2014 but it appears that his successor, Ahmed Umar, is continuing al-Shabaab’s dual mission.

The death toll from al-Shabaab’s latest major attack has reached 25, with around 40 wounded. Two bombers struck a Mogadishu hotel on February 20th – one using a vehicle to deliver explosives to the front gate and another who detonated their device inside. An al-Shabaab spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack which killed the deputy mayor of Mogadishu and two lawmakers.

*****

American Malls Are Threatened by Somalian Terrorists — and the DHS Secretary Is Warning Shoppers of the Danger, The Blaze, by Zach Noble, Feb. 23, 2015:

It’s a chilling, very specific message — and it had Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warning shoppers of the threat.

After Somalia-based terror group al-Shabab released a video calling for attacks on shopping malls throughout the U.S., U.K. and Canada, Johnson took to CNN Sunday morning to advise caution.

“If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson told CNN’s Gloria Borger. ”There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it’s the environment we’re in, frankly.”

The Minnesota Mall of America was one of the malls listed by name in al-Shabab’s Saturday video, and has promised to boost security measures.

As CNN noted, al-Shabab could have special pull in Minneapolis due to the city being home to America’s largest Somali population.

The call to shopping mall violence harkens back to al-Shabab’s 2013 terror attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya — an attack in which several Americans were reported to have participated.

In 2013, For the Record reported that terror group al-Shabab could be planning an attack on The Mall of America:

 

****

Al Shabaab Threatens Mall Attacks in the US, Canada and UK, by Jerry Gordon, at NER:

In NER articles in 2009 and 2013 we drew attention to the possible US Mall attack scenarios.  After the devastating 2013 Westlake Mall episode, we wrote:

Could a Nairobi type Swarming attack happen in the US?

Because there were allegations that there may have been émigré Somali Americans in the Westgate Mall attack, that raises serious questions from counterterrorism agencies in the US whether returning Jihadis could undertake a Nairobi type swarming attack on a mall here. In May 2013, two returning Al Shabaab US recruits were convicted in a Minneapolis Federal court and given lengthy sentences on charges including in one case, conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure.

A CNN report endeavoring to answer this “what if” question chronicled a series of actions at American Malls, some of which have been thwarted, but others have not. It noted these:

In the past few years, federal prosecutors say they have thwarted two planned attacks on malls, each of which would have been carried out by single attacker:

–Nuradin M. Abdi, a Somali citizen living in Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced in 2007 to 10 years in prison after admitting he sought terrorist training in Ethiopia to carry out attacks, including a never-attempted attack on a mall in 2002.
–Derrick Shareef of Rockford, Illinois, was sentenced in 2008 to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to plotting to set off grenades at a Rockford shopping mall. Shareef was a convert to Islam who was recorded saying he wanted to kill “infidels.”

But attacks which have succeeded in causing casualties at American malls in recent years have been carried out by young lone gunmen with no apparent cause to promote:

–A 19-year-old man killed eight people and then himself at an Omaha, Nebraska, mall in December 2007.
–An 18-year-old man killed five people before he was killed by police at a mall in Salt Lake City, Utah, in February 2007.
–A 22-year-old man killed two people and then himself at a mall near Portland, Oregon, in December 2012.

“Soft targets always attract the terrorists because they’re usually not defended,” said Lt. Col. Rick Francona, CNN’s military analyst. “It’s a very effective way of causing a lot of panic, a lot of damage very quickly and achieving the objective of terrorizing people.”

One possible target could be the giant Mall of America (MoA) complex in Bloomington, Minnesota. It lies within easy reach of the largest Somali émigré community in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul with more than two dozen Al Shabaab recruits, 10 of whom have been killed.

The CNN article noted what precautions the MoA has taken against this possibility:

“I think that if you’re looking for a hundred percent safety, you should probably wrap yourself in bubble wrap and never leave home,” said Doug Reynolds, security director of the Mall of America.

A strategy to minimize the damage a lone attacker or an armed group could do before authorities arrive can be seen twice a month at the giant mall in Bloomington, Minnesota, which is visited by 43 million people a year.

A voice comes over the public address system and announces that everyone, customers included, should take shelter in back rooms of the mall’s stores. Employees lock doors and lower security gates.

“If something bad should happen here, we don’t want our response to start with law enforcement will be here and will protect you,” Reynolds said. “We want to know what can be done before law enforcement gets here.”]

The Al Shabaab Nairobi type swarming attack is eerily reminiscent of the Black Friday swarming attack scenario we discussed in our June 2009 article, Foot Soldiers of Islam involving returning Al Shabaab US recruits engaged in an action not unlike the Nairobi Mall attack.  We noted:

We saw in the tragedy in Mumbai, India, [on November 29, 2008], the devastation, death and destruction wrought by a ‘swarming attack’ of a limited number of Kashmiri and Pakistani extremists. Counter terrorism experts and the FBI consider such swarming attacks as a high risk in America.

[ . . .]

The casualties from such orchestrated swarming attacks could be devastating and the economic impacts, significant. Currently, we don’t have local counter terrorism forces trained in weapons and tactics to combat Mumbai-type swarming attacks in high risk communities in this country.  We need to make that an important counter terrorism priority, including penetration of such local Jihadi networks.

****

At Clarion Project, Ryan Mauro analyzes the new al Shabaab video in terms of the group’s desire to compete with the Islamic State, their desire to attack within the United States and ability to do so:

Al Shabaab calls for attack on Mall of America in new video

Published on Feb 22, 2015 by EnGlobal News World

Fox News, Feb. 22, 2015:

A new video from Al Shabaab purportedly shows the terror group calling for an attack on Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn.

According to Fox 9, the mall is one of three similar targets the terror group specifically names, including West Edmonton Mall in Canada and the Oxford Street shopping area in London.

The video purportedly shows 6 minutes of graphic images and the terrorists celebrating the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed more than 60 people.

The narrator, his face wrapped in a black-and-white kaffiyeh-type scarf and wearing a camouflage jacket, spoke with a British accent and appeared to be of Somali origin. He accused Kenyan troops in Somalia of committing abuses against Somali Muslims.

He ended the video by calling on Muslim men to attack other shopping malls in Western countries.

An image of the Mall of America is shown in the video, alongside its GPS coordinates. The mall says it is ramping up its security in response.

“We will continue to monitor events with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” Mall of America said in a statement. “As always, we take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be. We will continue to follow the situation, along with law enforcement, and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations.”

Jim Kallstrom, the former assistant director of the FBI’s New York office, said the FBI has a “huge job in front of them.

“You look at the Mall of America, you look at all the malls then you start to backtrack and say you know it would be nice if we knew what comes and goes into the country,” Kallstrom told Fox News on Sunday. “We don’t have a clue.”

The Department of Homeland Security and FBI issued a joint statement Sunday saying that both agencies were aware of the video.

“In recent months, the FBI and DHS have worked closely with our state and local public safety counterparts and members of the private sector, to include mall owners and operators, to prevent and mitigate these types of threats,” the statement read.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on NBC’s Meet The Press that “there needs to be an awareness.

“We’re in a new phase now, and I’m afraid that this most recent video release reflects that,” Joshnson said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week.

Al Shabaab, Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, claimed responsibility for a Friday attack on a hotel in Somalia’s capital that killed 25 people and wounded 40, the country’s government said Saturday.

One Islamic extremist rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of the Central Hotel, and another went in and blew himself up, a statement from Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke’s office said.

Government officials were meeting at the Central Hotel at the time, and the statement said Mogadishu’s deputy mayor and two legislators were among the dead. It was unclear whether the government’s report of 25 dead included the two bombers.

Despite the loss of key strongholds in Somalia, Al Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, continues to stage attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere.

The group, designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department in 2008, has close ties to Al Qaeda through its senior leaders. It has attracted several radical volunteers from Minneapolis and Americans began traveling to Somalia in 2007 to join the group.

Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, condemned the Friday attack and said it would not derail efforts by his government to restore peace to Somalia, which is recovering from decades of war.

This is the second attack on a hotel in Mogadishu in less than a month. On Jan. 22, three Somali nationals were killed when a suicide car bomber blew himself up at the gate of a hotel housing the advance party of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited the country days later.

Al Shabaab controlled much of Mogadishu during the years 2007 to 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia’s capital and other major cities by African Union forces.

In Kenya, the government dismissed the Al Shabaab video.

“They’re using propaganda to legitimize what cannot be legitimized. When you lead a group to go and attack a shopping mall and kill innocent shoppers that cannot be legitimized, those were not soldiers,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said.

“Muslims also died in the Westgate attack. It’s in our interest to ensure Somalia is stabilized because the instability affects us. The video is cheap propaganda trying to re-write history and to get more support from those support them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Also see:

al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and ISIS: Recruiting and Taking Ground

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By Nicholas Hanlon:

The recent interplay between al Shabaab and the African Union military mission in Somalia offers new data on the role of ground troops, the holding of territory, and Islamist recruiting.   After conventional ground forces deprived the al Qaeda linked group of its last stronghold in Baraawe, al Shabaab retaliated with a failed assassination attempt on the Somali president in Baraawe.  To a more tragic effect, they succeeded in killing thirteen innocent civilians in Mogadishu with a car bomb yesterday.  The loss of Baraawe was a big loss for al Shabaab.  They once enjoyed control of two major port cities where they could earn money in exports and bring in weapons and new recruits unchecked.

It is important to keep in mind that as far back as 2007, the FBI was mobilizing to counter al Shabaab’s successful recruiting of Americans among the Somali refugee community.  In 2010, fourteen people were indicted for trying to support al Shabaab.  Individuals among them came from California, Alabama, and Minnesota.  One of the attackers at Westgate Mall in Kenya last year was believed to be from Kansas City, Missouri.

It also helps to keep in mind that al Shabaab was started by lieutenants of Osama Bin Laden.  Now, ISIS internet recruiting strategies are being compared to Al Qaeda’s as next-generation in technical innovation.   Why? The giant terrorist recruiting boon has long since begun.  That fact overshadows the differences between the groups and highlights their overarching unity of purpose.

Harken back to when the pillar of our now president’s foreign policy debate was that Gitmo caused terrorist recruiting.  If only we could close down Gitmo, we could stem terrorist recruiting world wide.  Another re-hashing of counter recruiting strategy also emerges.  Namely, did invading Iraq serve the cause of terrorist recruitment on a grand scale?  Would another boots on the ground campaign amplify recruiting once again in Syria?

Consider the basic elements at work: 1. Globalized social media with a propaganda capability 2. Freedom and ease of individual travel  3. Porous borders and poorly governed territory

Now apply those elements to each case regarding Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and al Shabaab in Somalia.  These categories clearly do not represent the complexity or all of the scenarios involved in the current threat matrix but do serve for an acceptable base line comparison.

In Afghanistan al Qaeda has good propaganda instincts but it is first generation stuff and there is physical distance between terrorist strongholds and a communications infrastructure.  Freedom and ease of individual travel is made difficult by remoteness and lack of transportation infrastructure.  The low level of governance, however, falls in the plus column.

In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is not only the benefactor of al Qaeda and former al Qaeda, they have more travel infrastructure and communications infrastructure.  It is much easier for Americans and Europeans to travel in and out, gain battle experience, and receive training before they return home.  Add to their globalized propaganda capability a free microphone from HBO’s Vice.  Their ability to take territory and govern speaks for itself.  But here is the twist.  Upon return, their media capability extrapolates as it already had been doing among the Somali jihadists.

Al Shabaab in Somalia had success early on with recruiting and importing foreign fighters due to the absence of an opposing force on the ground and control of vital seaports.  The freedom of individual travel beget effective globalized social media even without great communications infrastructure.   The FBI remains deeply concerned about those who have joined the jihad in Somalia carrying out attacks in the U.S. after returning.

What does all of this say to the debate about putting boots on the ground?  Does military intervention not play right in to Islamist strategy?  To be fair, let us quickly paraphrase the Iraq invasion strategy.  The idea was that it is better to fight terrorists with voluntary soldiers on foreign soil than to leave them unchecked and able to mobilize over seas to then launch attacks on U.S. soil.

It may sound simplistic but the ground force operations in Iraq and Afghanistan gave us an intelligence capability and a special forces capability we would have never had otherwise.  Without it, we would have never gotten Bin Laden and a lot of other bad guys.  That capability is no where near what it was since before the Iraq withdrawal.   Further, the U.S. had the un-articulated strategic advantage of new strike capabilities in a theater where we needed more geo-strategic leverage.  That’s gone too.

For the sake of argument, however, let’s say that the Iraq invasion did bring more terrorists out of the woodwork then would have ever otherwise confronted the U.S. unprovoked.   As Sam Harris has recently highlighted, the same ideas animate the overarching actions of all three groups; al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and ISIS.  It is a strategy for global dominance.  In Somalia, early al Shabaab had an ideological enemy, the Siad Barre military regime, long before U.S. foreign policy provided the foil.   His rise had to do with the Soviets whose foreign policy also provided the foil for Bin Laden’s early propaganda successes.

It will  help Islamist propaganda generally when they can use a Western or secular foreign policy or ideology as a foil.  Letting them determine when and where to fight is to concede that jihadists will name the tune that the West will dance to.  As the list of no-good options grows, there is healthy debate and a lot of good reasons why we should not invade  Iraq for a third time.  But a recruiting coup is not one of them.  The factors listed above can account for a robust propaganda and recruiting capability for ISIS, al Shabaab, and al Qaeda.  Further, thanks to social media, the viral effect is in effect.  That ship has sailed and Western leaders are in more dissarray than ever as to what to do about it.

Baraawe reminds us that taking territory away from Islamist terrorist groups can deprive them of money, weapons, and new recruits in the short term.  Iraq teaches us that if we don’t hold the ground taken from Islamist groups, they will take it back.  Neither case address the blood lust or sense of righteousness for their cause in the long run.  Yet their ideas can draw fighters to their banner with or without a U.S. presence on the ground.  A counter ideology capability for the West will not likely emerge in the American political climate.