FBI Sting Nets Two Chicago Area ISIS Supporters

IPT, by John Rossomando  •  Apr 13, 2017

Two Chicago area men face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of providing material support to ISIS Joseph D. Jones and Edward Schimenti, both 35, were arrested Wednesday morning. They tried to provided ISIS cellphones and personnel, an FBI affidavit alleges.

The supplies were given instead to an FBI informant. Jones, aka “Yusuf Abdulhaqq,” and Schimenti, aka “Abdul Wali,” thought the phones would be used to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Jones told an undercover FBI employee he declared his allegiance – or bayah – to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

They also worked to help the informant travel overseas to fight for ISIS and encouraged him to get into fighting shape, the affidavit said. Jones and Schimenti told the informant to be careful and avoid law enforcement detection.

The sting began in September 2015, when Jones met an undercover FBI employee. The meeting took place inside the Zion Police Department, where Jones was being interviewed about a friend’s recent murder. Both Jones and Schimenti expressed support when the undercover later said he wanted to join ISIS.

Other undercover agents tricked Jones and Schimenti into thinking their new friend did make it to Syria.

A year ago, Jones and Schimenti posed for pictures holding an ISIS flag at the entrance to the Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Ill. Jones sent the picture to another undercover FBI agent with whom he communicated online. ISIS supporters also posted the image after a fourth undercover FBI employee asked Jones’ permission to share it via social media.

Jones also made numerous statements endorsing violent jihad on his Google+ account under the name “Yusuf Abdulahad,” the complaint said. Among other things, Jones called moderate Muslims “weak minded material loving sellouts.” He also called jihad the “best deed” and praised martyrdom.

Schimenti made similar posts using the Google + account “Ed Schimenti.” “Kuffar [unbelievers], we are coming to slay you,” Schimenti wrote in an April 2015 post.

In February, Schimenti and Jones met the informant for a workout at a Zion gym. When the informant said the workout would help prepare for fighting, Schimenti responded, “Right, right, right…it’s about that strength and that endurance.”

Jones and Schimenti worked with the informant last month to collect cellphones.  They believed the phones would be sent to ISIS and used as bomb detonators.  Last week, the two drove the informant to O’Hare Airport, thinking he was traveling to Syria to fight for ISIS.

Jones said he was ashamed not to be going, too. Schimenti said he wanted the informant to “drench that land with they, they blood.”

CAIR Whips Pre-Election Hysteria and Fear Against FBI

shiblyIPT News
November 7, 2016

Federal law enforcement officials reported concern Friday over vague threats of an al-Qaida terrorist attack that could come today in an attempt to disrupt Tuesday’s U.S. elections. Three states – New York, Virginia, and Texas – were identified as potential targets.

So it makes sense that FBI agents in eight states reportedly wore out some shoe leather during the weekend, knocking on doors of people with family connections to Afghanistan or Pakistan – both operating bases for al-Qaida. One of those questioned reportedly is a youth group leader. Others were doctors.

No one was arrested.

To the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), this is an “outrageous and … borderline unconstitutional” “sweep” of American Muslim leaders.

The Dallas Morning News, Washington Post and Time magazine all published stories on the FBI action, offering little in the way of push-back to CAIR’s narrative.

The FBI is “harassing” Muslims in Oklahoma, CAIR’s state director Adam Soltani wrote on Facebook, Time reported.

CAIR-Florida director Hasan Shibly heard from six people contacted by the FBI, the Post story said. CAIR’s Texas office heard from 17 people. The stories lamenting this alleged FBI outrage, therefore, offered two dozen examples nationally.

CAIR officials sounded the alarm on social media, urging Muslims not to say anything to the FBI without a lawyer present. The organization offered to provide counsel to those who needed it. CAIR’s campaign then attracted the media coverage.

Calling it a “sweep,” as Shibly did, usually connotes mass arrests, not knocks on people’s doors. The Post at least placed the word in quotes.

This raises a question: What is the FBI supposed to do when it learns terror plots may be in the works? The news stories don’t say. They do quote CAIR officials expressing their outrage.

“The FBI actions … to conduct a sweep of American Muslim leaders the weekend before the election is completely outrageous and … borderline unconstitutional,” Shibly told the Post. “That’s the equivalent of the FBI visiting churchgoing Christians because someone overseas was threatening to blow up an abortion clinic. It’s that preposterous and outrageous.”

No, it’s not at all like that. There is no foreign terrorist network advocating American abortion foes to attack clinics. ISIS and al-Qaida have spent years advocating random, homegrown terror attacks in online videos, social media and in glossy publications.

It’s a disturbingly effective message, proven successful by the number of people who have tried to leave the country to join ISIS, or who have been arrested trying to do so, or who have plotted to carry out attacks.

Horrible attacks in just the past year show that individual actors responding to the call to jihad can create huge casualty counts. Omar Mateen killed 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, pausing in his slaughter to call 911 and pledge allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people at an office Christmas party in San Bernardino last December.

And in September, 29 people were injured when a homemade bomb went off in a Manhattan dumpster. A second bomb was found nearby. Investigators later found five additional unexploded bombs in a trash can in Elizabeth, N.J. near a transit station.

CAIR officials insist they are not trying to hinder the FBI. They say they merely are ensuring people know about, and use, their constitutional right to have counsel present for any questioning. But CAIR’s long record of sowing fear against the FBI casts doubt on that assertion.

482Its “Know Your Rights” lectures have long included claims of tales of FBI agents breaking the law and willing to do anything in order to snare innocent Muslims. FBI agents are depicted as sinister forces lurking outside Muslim homes in images carrying the message “Build a Wall of Resistance: Don’t Talk to the FBI.”

Indictments of terror suspects involving informants and undercover agents are always dismissed by the group as entrapment, though no jury or court has agreed. A December promotional page touting an “entrapment workshop” depicting the FBI as a spider out to snare the Muslim community in its web remains active on CAIR’s Philadelphia office website.

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Last year, when authorities in Boston overheard a terror suspect they had been monitoring say he was going to go out and start stabbing police officers, CAIR spent days casting Usaama Rahim’s subsequent death as unjust despite video showing Rahim lunged at officers ordering him to drop a military grade knife.

No one would have learned that fact from reading any of the stories parroting CAIR’s outrage, unless he or she conducted independent web searches. Likewise, readers would not know that the FBI broke off outreach communication with CAIR in 2008, after an investigation placed the organization and its founders in the middle of a Muslim Brotherhood-created Hamas support network in America.

“[U]ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner,” an FBI official explained in 2009. The policy remains in effect 7½ years later.

Once upon a time, the Morning News had CAIR’s number, investigating and exposing radical Islamist activity supporting Hamas in north Texas during the 1990s. The Posthas never devoted a story to the evidence that led to the policy.

The FBI declined to comment, the two newspapers reported. But missing from the stories were perspectives from retired law enforcement officials, at the very least, and an explanation about how the Bureau works in situations like this. This context would have been a service to readers, offering balance to CAIR’s talking points.

People in eight states are being targeted for questioning, the Post reported. “Several of the states — including Florida and Pennsylvania — are viewed as crucial swing states heading into the presidential election Tuesday,” the story said, underscoring Shibly’s claim that this is some kind of pre-election intimidation campaign.

But other states, especially Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, are not considered competitive Tuesday. No CAIR official presented anything to support the organization’s allegation that voter intimidation is in play. Yet, the Post and a story on Fusion.net included it.

Fusion’s story argued that the FBI is somehow ignoring threats of violence from white nationalists and militias, a claim belied by recent arrests.

If the FBI started arresting Muslim Americans without cause, CAIR’s campaign of fear and hysteria might make sense. But pursuing information about a possible terrorist attack, in swing states and decidedly red states, is not sinister.

It’s their responsibility.

Islamists’ Double Standards on FBI’s Use of Informants

trappedIPT NewsOctober 18, 2016:

American Islamists routinely criticize law enforcement sting operations involving Muslim terrorism suspects as “entrapment” and condemn the use of “agent provocateurs.” But the role of an FBI informant last week in thwarting a planned bombing attack by a militia group targeting the Somali Muslim immigrant community in Kansas failed to evoke a similar reaction.

This time, Islamists applauded FBI agents for the successful undercover investigation against three Kansas men who wanted to blow up a mosque and an apartment complex in Garden City that housed a large number of Somali immigrants. The men were alleged to be part of a militia group that called itself “the Crusaders” and championed “sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs.”

The investigation started with a tip from a confidential informant who heard “Crusaders” members talking about attacking Muslims, an FBI affidavit said. The informant later recorded similar conversations, including one in June in which defendant Patrick Eugene Stein allegedly talked about targeting Garden City apartment buildings.

“I mean I wouldn’t be against if I could get a hold of some RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades), I’ll run some RPG’s right through…I’ll blow every goddamn building up right there…boom…I’m outta there,” Stein said, according to the affidavit.

The investigation also included an undercover FBI agent, who offered to sell the suspects automatic weapons.

By all accounts, it appears law enforcement did save the people of Garden City from a horrific act of terrorism.

But when informants and undercover agents use similar tactics against radicalized Muslims hoping to carry out attacks in the United States, the response is dramatically different.

“Watch how a paid FBI Agent Provocateur trains a mentally disturbed youth to commit disgusting acts of terrorism and provides him with weapons to do so,” Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Tampa Director Hassan Shibly wrote in a Facebook post. This comment followed the conviction of Sami Osmakac, who was convicted in 2015 of plotting to attack multiple targets in Tampa using a car bomb, assault rifle and other explosives.

Similarly, CAIR’s Michigan Director Dawud Walid dismissed any case involving informants and sting operations, saying the FBI “has recruited more so called extremist Muslims than al-Qaida themselves.” Other CAIR officials say the FBI gins up cases against innocent Muslims to fool the public. CAIR’s Philadelphia chapter even offered classes on the issue, promoting them with a graphic depicting the FBI as a spider trying to catch innocent Muslims in its web.

“What the FBI came and did was enable them to become actual terrorists, and then came and saved the day,” CAIR-San Francisco’s Zahra Billoo said in 2010. The FBI “is creating these huge terror plots where they don’t exist.”

In those cases, investigations also started with tips, or from seeing social media postings in which the suspects expressed a desire to wage jihad.

In a Facebook post last year, CAIR-LA chief Hussam Ayloush wrote, “…FBI-paid informants hired to entrap feeble-minded young Muslim men. Both sources of such hatred and violence are bad news.” In an earlier Twitter post he posited, “Is the FBI now going to send informants to entrap, radicalize, then arrest young Jewish Americans joining Israel’s terrorist army?”

But in the Kansas case, no concerns have been expressed about the use of an informant.

Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, wrote that she was “literally physically sick to my stomach” upon learning of the plot. She also reposted the tweet: “Thank you to law enforcement for thwarting #Kansas terrorist plot. Glad to hear that the community is safe. #KansasPlot”

1872Seeking enhanced protection for Islamic institutions following the thwarted plot, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad “thanked state and federal authorities for their efforts in this case.”

During a radio interview, CAIR Kansas chapter leader Moussa Elbaoumy expressed gratitude toward law enforcement for being “able to thwart this plan before it even came to the point where it put anybody’s life in danger or property in danger.”

Dalia Mogahed, a pollster and former White House adviser, also expressed thanks to law enforcement for foiling the Kansas plot. In a Twitter post she drew a distinction between the use of informants in investigations where there was “credible evidence” against cases where informants were “sent to lure mentally ill into crime they wouldn’t otherwise commit.”

Mogahed at least was consistent in showing the reflexive opposition Islamists express toward counterterrorism investigations that involve sting operations and informants.

Ironically, in the same CAIR news release detailing the Kansas bomb plot and expressing relief is a link to a Detroit Free Press article, “Use of Undercover Informants in Muslim Communities Sparks Concern.” The release mentions an April lawsuit filed against the FBI and other federal agencies by CAIR’s Michigan chapter “saying the Muslim-Americans from Michigan and other states were being pressured to become informants.”

Law enforcement saved lives in Kansas by infiltrating a group of terrorists plotting to attack innocent Somali Muslims, and stopping them before they could act. That’s easy to recognize. But it also should be easy to see that, while the pronouns and ideologies may differ, the tactics used here are the same as those used in cases against Muslims seeking jihad.

Jihadist Tactics 101 – Going on the Dole

imamby Patrick Dunleavy
IPT News
October 17, 2016

Milking the system for all they can get now appears to be a strategy employed by radical Islamic extremists. While counter terrorism investigators were busy searching for the funding terrorist organizations used to plan attacks and get out their message of violence against all non-believers, there is one place nobody thought to look: the social welfare line.

We now know that some of the individuals involved in the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels were supported by benefits supplied by Europe’s social welfare net.

Some of the money came from unemployment claims and some came from student assistance claims submitted by the terrorists while they were planning the attacks.

“We’ve identified that the benefit system is vulnerable to abuse for terrorist financing purposes,” Tom Keatinge, director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London said. And then he posed the question, “What are we going to do about that?”

One of those who received benefits was Anjem Choudary, the radical Islamic preacher who for more than 20 years proselytized and recruited people to a radical form of Islam that encourages jihad as a necessary tenet of the faith. He did it on street corners, mosques, and in front of television cameras.

Choudary received more than £25,000, or roughly $40,000 a year, in social benefits.  He had the audacity to call those payments “Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.”  He described it to his flock of potential jihadists as a form of jizya.

According to the Quran and the Hadiths, the jizya is a per capita yearly tax historically levied by Islamic states on certain non-Muslim subjects permanently residing in Muslim lands under Islamic law. Choudary taught that milking the social welfare system was another form of collecting the payment that was owed to Muslims.

Sly like a fox, he avoided prosecution for years because no direct contact between him and a terrorist organization could be proven. But then British authorities uncovered a video of Choudary pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. He was convicted of providing material support to a terrorist organization and was sentenced to a mere 5½ years in a specialized maximum security unit.

A similar case is taking place right here in the United States. Suleiman Anwar Bengharsa has been an Islamic cleric in the Baltimore area for more than 10 years. During that time he has drawn FBI attention for his fiery sermons, which, like Choudary’s, walk right up to the legal line of incitement. But it has yet to be proven that he crossed it.

1871Bengharsa founded the Islamic Jurisprudence Center, which calls for the death of homosexuals. He has also been implicated in the case of Sebastian Gregerson, a Muslim convert who was arrested in July for possessing explosive devices. According to the New York Times, an FBI affidavit from last year that was mistakenly filed publicly said that Bengharsa gave Gregerson $1,300 in June 2015. Gregerson, who also goes by the name Abdurrahaman Bin Mikaayl, then used the money to buy grenades and other weapons.

The reason for them, according to the agent who wrote the affidavit was clear: “Based on the totality of the aforementioned information and evidence, there is reason to believe that Bengharsa and Gregerson are engaged in discussions and preparations for some violent act on behalf of the Islamic State.”

And yet Bengharsa, like Choudary did for so many years, has avoided being charged with any crime.

Bengharsa is a former civil servant employed by both the federal government and the state of Maryland. He worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce as an international trade specialist, a position that paid over $80,000 a year.

Bengharsa resigned in 2006 after admitting to plagiarism, records show. He filed for unemployment compensation, which was contested by the Department of Commerce and upheld by a D.C. administrative judge. From there Bengharsa applied to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to be a prison chaplain. He worked in the state prison system until 2009 when he filed for worker’s compensation, alleging he was hurt lifting a box of books.

The more alarming fact is that someone like Bengharsa, who holds radical Islamic views and preaches a message of hate, was even considered to work in the prison environment.

Authorities have known for quite some time that prisons are fertile soil for recruiting potential Islamic terrorists, and that one of the catalysts in the radicalization process is the presence of clergy or religious volunteers holding extremist views. Bengharsa’s dismissal from that sensitive position should have occurred before he was able to apply for a financial benefit from Maryland taxpayers. The social safety net was designed to help those in our society who truly need a hand up. Not a radial Islamist who wants a handout.

IPT Senior Fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School

With The Terror Threat Growing, Europe Changes Course

Europe mapby Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
August 31, 2016

Sixteen years ago, when Dutch commentator Paul Scheffer published his “Multicultural Drama” declaring that multiculturalism in the Netherlands had failed, the response was swift and angry. Critics across Europe called him racist, bigoted, nationalistic. Others dismissed his views as mere rants and ramblings of a Leftist in search of a cause.

Not anymore.

With over 275 people killed in 10 Islamic terrorist attacks since January 2015, Europeans harbor no more illusions about the multiculturalist vision: where immigrants from Muslim countries are concerned, that idealist vision has more than just failed. It has produced a culture of hatred, fear, and unrelenting danger. Now, with European Muslim youth radicalizing at an unprecedented rate and the threat of new terrorist attacks, Europe is reassessing its handling of Muslim communities and its counterterrorism strategies and laws.

Among the changes being considered are a reversal of laws that allow radical Muslims to receive handouts from the very governments they seek to destroy; restricting foreign funding of mosques; and stronger surveillance on private citizens.

Chief among the new counterterrorism approaches is a program to coordinate intelligence data among European Union countries – a tactic that has not been pursued with any regularity or such depth before now. But following the November attacks in Paris, the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD initiated weekly meetings among intel agencies from all EU countries, Switzerland, and Norway, with the objective of sharing information, exchanging new clues, insights, and suspect alerts, and discussing improvements to a Europe-wide system of counterterrorism and intelligence.

Through these meetings and the improved shared database, it is now possible for each country to contextualize its intelligence and understand links between individuals and various groups from one city to another – and so, between radicals and radical groups as they pass through a borderless EU.

Concurrently, EU members are now beginning to share information about web sites and even details about private citizens where needed. Most countries had been reluctant to make such exchanges, citing both privacy concerns and the need to protect their sources. Other cooperative efforts include an EU initiative begun in February 2015 to counteract Islamic extremist propaganda. The project received a major €400 million boost in June, indicating the high priority Europe now places on fighting recruitment.

Earlier this month, Europol began a new effort to screen refugees still awaiting placement in Greek asylum centers. According to a report from Europa Nu, an initiative between the European parliament and the University of Leiden, Europol agents “specifically trained to unmask and dismantle terrorists and terror networks” will be dispatched to the camps to try to prevent terrorists from infiltrating the flood of refugees to Europe.

Some EU measures, however, have been based more in politics than counterterrorism, including efforts to crack down on the ability of radical Muslims to benefit from welfare programs. British citizens, for instance, reacted with outrage when it was discovered that the family of “Jihadi John” had received over £400,000 in taxpayer support over the course of 20 years. In Belgium, Salah Abdeslam, the terrorist accused of participating in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, pulled in nearly €19,000 in welfare benefits from January 2014 and October 2015, according to Elsevier. And Gatestone reports that more than 30 Danish jihadists received a total of €51,000 in unemployment benefits all while battling alongside the Islamic State in Syria.

Such concerns have also spread to the United States. Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, introduced the “No Welfare For Terrorists Act.”

“Terrorist victims and their families should never be forced to fund those who harmed them,” he said in a statement. “This bill guarantees this will never happen.”

But not all of Europe’s new approaches to the terror threat are being coordinated out of Brussels. Many more, in fact, are country-specific, such as England’s decision to follow an example set earlier by the Netherlands and Spain, separating jailed terrorists and terror suspects from other prisoners. The measures follow others the country adopted after the July 7, 2005 bombings of a London underground and buses, to criminalize “those who glorify terrorism, those involved in acts preparatory to terrorism, and those who advocate it without being directly involved,” the New York Times reported.

In fact, prisons worldwide, including in the U.S., have long been viewed as warm breeding grounds for radicals and potential terrorists. Ahmed Coulibaly, the gunman at the Porte de Vincennes siege in January 2015, was serving time for a bank robbery, for instance, when he met Cherif Koauachi, one of the Charlie Hebdo attackers. Both converted to Islam there. It was in that same prison that the two encountered Djamel Beghal, an al-Qaida operative who attempted to blow up the American Embassy in Paris in 2001.

Hence many experts now argue in favor of isolating those held on terrorism-related charges as a way to stop them from radicalizing their fellow inmates.

Yet British officials have until now resisted creating separate wings for terror suspects, arguing that doing so gives them “credibility” and makes it harder to rehabilitate them. But a recent government report on Islamist extremism in British prisons forced a change in thinking, in part by noting that “other prisoners – both Muslim and non-Muslim – serving sentences for crimes unrelated to terrorism are nonetheless vulnerable to radicalization by Islamist Extremists [sic].”

Similarly, France, the site of the worst attacks of the past two years, also balked at first at the idea of separating terrorists from other prisoners, arguing that doing so “forms a terrorist cell within a prison.” But the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 2015 changed all that. Now, officials are even going further, looking at other potential sources of radicalization: the mosques.

Shortly after the Bastille Day attack in Nice, Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced plans to ban foreign financing for French mosques as part of an effort to establish a “French Islam,” led by imams trained only in France. France hosts dozens of foreign-financed mosques – many sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Morocco – which preach Salafism, an extreme version of Islam practiced in the Saudi Kingdom and the root of much radical Islamist ideology. And according to a new report on counter-radicalization, about 300 imams come from outside France.

That same report also calls for “regular surveys” of France’s 4-5 million Muslims, according to France 24, in order “to acquire a better understanding of this population in a country where statistics based on religious, ethnic, or racial criteria are banned.”

Both proposed measures have been met with resistance. The “surveys,” as even the report itself notes, are a means of circumventing laws against gathering information on the basis of religious criteria – and so, go against democratic principles. And many French officials also oppose the ban on foreign funding for mosques, arguing that French government intervention in places of worship contradicts separation between church and state. Besides, they claim, radicalization doesn’t take place there anyway.

But Dutch authorities and counter-extremism experts are not so sure. The announcement earlier this month that Qatar would finance an Islamic center in Rotterdam, for instance, set off alarms even among Muslim moderates, including Rotterdam’s Moroccan-born mayor Ahmed Marcouch. There are good reasons for this. The Salafist Eid Charity, which sponsors the project, has been on Israel’s terror list since 2008, according to Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. Moreover, in 2013 the U.S. Treasury Department accused the charity’s founder, Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aymi, of providing funding for al-Qaida and its affiliates, and named him a “specially designated global terrorist.”

Plans for the center sound much like those of the now-abandoned plans for New York’s “Ground Zero mosque,” with sports facilities, prayer space, tutoring for students, Islamic child care, and, reports Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, imam training.

Yet the center’s prospective director, Arnoud van Doorn, a convert to Islam and former member of the far-right, anti-Islam political party PVV, insists that any fears about the project are unfounded. “Our organization has nothing to do with extremism,” he told the NRC. “We want only to provide a positive contribution to Dutch society.”

Notably, though, France’s proposal to ban foreign mosque funding and the Qatari backing of the Rotterdam center point to some of the deepest roots of Europe’s radical Islam problem, and, despite all the new initiatives now underway, the greatest challenges to ending it. When Muslim immigrants came to Europe in the 1970s, they carved prayer spaces wherever they could: the backs of community grocery stores, in restaurants and tea rooms. But these soon became too small to handle the growing Muslim population. Mosques – real mosques – would have to be built.

But by whom? The Muslim communities themselves were too poor. Western governments, wedded to the separation of church and state, could not subsidize them with taxpayer funds. And so the door was opened to foreign – mostly Saudi – investment, and the placement of Saudi-trained and Saudi-backed imams in European mosques. Europe had, in essence, rolled out the welcome mat for Salafism.

Now they want to roll it in again. But is it too late? Even as Western intelligence is now uniting to fight radical Islam, Islamic countries are pooling together in Europe to expand it. The result, as Manuel Valls told French daily Le Monde, is that, “What’s at stake is the republic. And our shield is democracy.”

Hence as the number attacks against Western targets increase, many Europeans are coming to understand that preserving the core of that democracy may mean disrupting some of the tenets on which it’s built, like certain elements of privacy, for instance, and religious principles that violate the freedom that we stand for . It is, as it were, a matter of destroying even healthy trees to save the forest. But in this tug-of-war between the Islamic world’s efforts to shape the West, and Western efforts to save itself, only our commitment to the very heart of our ideals will define who wins this fight.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Why is Virginia a Haven for Would-be Jihadists?

jihad bby Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
July 18, 2016

What is it about Virginia?

Already this year, six men from the “Cavalier State” have been arrested on terror-related charges – two of them in July alone. Another man has joined the Islamic State in Syria. Two of those charged were stopped from making a similar trip.

These most recent arrests, one on July 3, the other on July 8, were based on charges of planning to provide material support to ISIS. Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, a former member of the National Guard who was arrested July 3, allegedly discussed planning an attack against U.S. military in the homeland inspired by fellow Virginian Nidal Hasan’s 2009 shooting at Fort Hood. According to court documents, Jalloh quit the Guard and later attempted to obtain funds and weapons for a domestic attack after being inspired by Anwar al Awlaki’s videos on YouTube.

Five days later, Virginia law enforcement arrested Haris Qamar, following an extended FBI sting operation. According to an FBI affidavit, Qamar made statements to an informant such as, “By-bye, DC, stupid a— kufar [infidels], kill ’em all,” and posted to his Twitter account a prayer for “strength to the mujahedeen to slaughter every single US military officer.”

Earlier arrests this year – two in June and one in January – involved men planning to join the jihad in Syria, rather than waging domestic battles. In one case, Mohamad Jamal Khweis, who had already joined the Islamic State, surrendered to Kurdish forcesin Iraq in an apparent effort to escape the hell of life in the new caliphate. Now awaiting sentencing in the United States, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Why does this keep happening in Virginia? What makes its young Muslims more susceptible to the radical messages from Awlaki and ISIS social media?

Virginia has proved to be an active center for radical Islamist activity over the years and has bred more than its share of terrorists since 9/11. It was at the Hamas-linkedDar al Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, for instance, that terrorist icon Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American whom counter-terrorism officials say inspired hundreds of other Muslims to take arms in violent jihad, once served as imam. Among his disciples: Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan; Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, convicted in 2005 of collaborating with al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush; and several of the 9/11 hijackers.

And it was in Virginia that, in the still fragile and bewildered aftermath of 9/11, “Beltway snipers” John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo shot and killed more than 12 people, including an FBI analyst, in October 2002.

While internet and social media remain powerful weapons in the terrorist recruitment arsenal, personal connections remain the most potent tool. Honor student Ali Shukri Amin, charged with soliciting donations for ISIS, is also suspected of helping another Virginian, Reza Niknejad, travel to Syria.

While none of the recent cases implicate specific mosques, the influence of Dar al Hijrah and some of its imams appears to have been widespread.

To some extent, this could be thanks to its current imam, Shaker Elsayed. In 2002, hetold a conference hosted by the Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle for North America that deciding whether suicide bombers were martyrs was “an in house business” for Muslims.

In a dramatic speech available online since 2013, Elsayed rants against the West and calls for “the power of faith” and “the power of armament.” In the post-9/11 world, he observes, even world leaders have “bowed down” to the Western pressure. “We the Muslim masses should never bow down except to Allah!” he says, “and this will give us our dignity back.”

But other Virginia religious leaders have gone further. Ali al-Timimi, a cancer researcher, was the “spiritual leader” of a group of 11 men convicted of terrorism in 2003 and 2004, Al-Timimi is now serving a life sentence for recruiting Muslims to travel to Pakistan and train for holy war.

Shortly after 9/11, according to the New York Times’ coverage of his trial, al-Timimi invited a group of young Muslim men to dinner, where he told them they had a religious duty to fight with the Taliban against American forces. Prosecutors described that statement as “treason,” calling al-Timimi a “purveyor of hate and war.”

More than 10 years after his conviction, al-Timimi remains a figurehead among radical groups in Virginia and the Capitol district. The Peace and Justice Foundation, which defended al-Timimi and his followers, refers in online documents to a government conspiracy, while numerous web sites offer recordings of al-Timimi’s lectures. In addition, a Facebook page devoted to his appeal with more than 2,000 “likes,” has built a community in his support. (Followers even raised $12,000 for his mother’s medical care.)

The Saudi-sponsored Islamic Saudi Academy, which shut down abruptly last month,faced criticism for its textbooks that promote Wahhabism, an extreme version of Islam practiced by the Saudis. The textbooks contained passages “that extolled jihad and martyrdom, called for victory over one’s enemies, and said the killing of adulterers and apostates was ‘justified,'” the Washington Post reported. Those passages were found in school textbooks two years after U.S. officials, shocked by the texts in use in 2006, ordered they be revised. Pre-revision books included statements like, “It is said: the apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews. The swine are the unbelievers of Jesus’ table, the Christians.”

The school’s 1999 valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted in 2005 for supporting al-Qaida and planning to assassinate the president. (Notably, he also taught Islamic Studies at Dar Al Hijrah.)

As Seamus Hughes of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University’s Center or Cyber & Homeland Security told Fox News, “Northern Virginia has a disproportionate number of people that are drawn to this.”

Ramy Zamzam is a poster child for this observation. He was among five young men who disappeared from their northern Virginia neighborhood in late 2009, only to be arrested by Pakistani authorities who caught them trying to cross into Afghanistan to join jihadists there.

“We are not terrorists,” he said outside a hearing. “We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism.”

Muslim groups expressed their horror over the incident and promised a program aimed at de-radicalization.

It’s not clear that any such plan ever emerged. If it did, it’s clearly not working.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Prosecutors: ISIS Ebook Helped Inspire Aborted Attack on Pamela Geller

1(480)IPT, by John Rossomando  •  Apr 22, 2016

An Islamic State (ISIS) ebook, “How to Survive in the West: A Mujahid’s Guide,” may have contributed to a plot by two accused Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists from Boston to behead free-speech advocate Pamela Geller, federal prosecutors say. Boston policekilled a third conspirator on June 2 before they could carry out their attack against Geller.

David Dawoud Wright, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim and Nicholas Rovinski answered ISIS’s call to commit terrorist acts in Western countries beginning in January 2015, a superseding indictment issued Thursday said. The three were inspired by the terrorist organization’s online magazine Dabiq and also looked to “How to Survive in the West” for guidance in forming a sleeper cell after it appeared in March 2015.

Wright wrote organizational documents for a “Martyrdom Operations Cell” in April 2015. He also researched firearms, tranquilizer guns and law-enforcement capabilities. His search queries included: “what is the most flammable chemical;” “Which tranquilizer puts humans to sleep instantly;” and “how to start a secret militia in [the] US.”

Most of these topics are also found in “How to Survive in the West.”

Rahim communicated with several ISIS members abroad, including Junaid Hussain, also known as “Abu Hussain al-Britani.” Hussain was a British hacker who helped ISIS recruit jihadis and identify targets in the West prior to his death in a drone strike last August.

By May, the plotters wanted to behead Geller, who was organizing a draw Muhammad contest in Garland, Texas. Geller was targeted for murder in a May 6 ISIS fatwa. Hussain told Rahim to kill Geller because she had insulted Muhammad, and Rahim passed along Hussain’s instructions to Wright. He also told Rahim to carry a knife if the “feds” tried to arrest him.

The plot moved away from Geller and the group allegedly discussed attacking closer to home. Rahim was killed by police in June after intercepted conversations indicated he was about to attack police officers. Hussain hailed Rahim as a “martyr” on Twitter.

Independent of this plot, Geller was targeted by two other ISIS-inspired terrorists, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi. Both men were killed by a Garland traffic police officer during a shootout.

“How to Survive in the West” also includes instructions to kill anyone who depicts Muhammad in a manner Muslims find blasphemous.

“Allah is asking us; why don’t you fight a people who broke their covenant of peace (with the Muslims) first, then reviled our religion (by promoting insulting pictures of Prophet Muhammad) and started (Arabic: bada’*) the attack against you first?” a passage from How to Survive in the West said. [Emphasis original.],” “How to Survive in the West” says.

Disturbingly, Rovinski continued to support ISIS from behind bars after he was arrested. Prosecutors say Rovinski reaffirmed his support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in August. He also tried to recruit other prisoners to commit terrorist acts.