Following the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a new report illustrating the significant increase of U.S. terrorist activity, inspired by foreign terrorist organizations such as ISIS.
The ISIS Impact on the Domestic Islamic Extremist Threat, provides analysis of terrorist activity between 2009 and 2015. Some of the report’s key findings:
- “A total of 80 U.S. residents were linked to terrorism motivated by Islamic extremism in 2015, representing a nearly 200 percent increase from the previous year. The majority of those linked to terrorism claimed to have supported ISIS.”
- Between 2009 and 2015, the highest number of terror arrests took place in New York, Minnesota and California.
- “In 2015, 80 U.S. residents were linked to terror plots and other activity motivated by Islamic extremism, the most ever recorded, and up 180% from 2014. The vast majority acted in support of ISIS.”
- “In 2015, for the first time, nearly as many Americans were killed by domestic Islamic extremists as by white supremacists.”
- Women are increasingly becoming involved in Islamic terrorist activity.
Additionally, fewer (only 68%) of those who allegedly provided material support to terror groups had attempted to travel abroad to join terrorist organizations. Hence, there are now more terror-linked individuals who opt to remain in the U.S. and provide support financially, by way of recruitment and/or by plotting domestic attacks.
Continued access to new and emerging technology has significantly boosted terrorists’ ability to reach, recruit and mobilize a new generation of terrorists. The following are examples, according to the report, of individuals who become radicalized online, used the Internet to recruit others or collaborated on the Internet to plot attacks:
- Enrique Marquez, “arrested in December for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists had initially aided Syed Rezwan Farook and Tafsheen Malik in acquiring some of the weapons they used in the San Bernardino shootings. He had also allegedly plotted an earlier attack with Farook that the two did not carry out. Reports and court documents indicate that Farook had played a primary role in Marquez’s radicalization, using online propaganda materials to teach his associate extremist ideologies. Marquez allegedly watched accessed extensive online propaganda materials including videos, lectures by AQAP propagandist Anwar Al-Awlaki, and AQAP’s English-language online propaganda magazine, Inspire.”
- Joshua Ray Van Haftan was arrested in April for attempting to join ISIS. He had allegedly viewed massive amounts of terrorist propaganda online and had also been active in terrorist circles on Twitter and Facebook. Van Haftan had also ‘liked’ the Facebook page for Ansar Beyt al Maqdis, which later became the ISIS affiliate in Egypt.
- Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi “were killed in April for attempting to shoot attendees of a Draw Mohammed cartoon contest at a Texas community center. Simpson had maintained at least 8 Twitter accounts, which he used to network with ISIS supporters and share extremist ideas.” Hassan had posted tweets on Twitter advocating for an attack on the Texas event.
- Ahmed Mohammed el Gammal was arrested in August for providing material support to terror. He allegedly recruited another individual to join ISIS. An Arizona resident, via Facebook, he encouraged a college student in New York to radicalize. Following that, El Gammal met with the student in person, in order to solidify their relationship, and then assisted him in traveling to join ISIS.
- Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, “arrested in December for providing material support for terror and aiding individuals in pursuit of traveling overseas, allegedly had no fewer than 57 Twitter accounts on which he disseminated ISIS propaganda and advocated violence against the U.S. and its citizens. According to court documents, Aziz allegedly used his Twitter accounts and other electronic communication services to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for ISIS on at least three occasions. He also allegedly posted a hyperlink containing the names, addresses and other identifying information of members of the U.S. military, together with calls for violence against them. Individuals also used the internet to facilitate their terrorist activity. In these cases, the internet served as a resource to fundraise, channel money or goods, purchase weapons, surveil locations for domestic plots, and learn how to conduct attacks.”
- Six U.S. residents “arrested in February in Illinois, Missouri and New York attempted to provide resources to ISIS. The group used Facebook and other social media sites to coordinate purchases, funds and supplies intended for ISIS. They also used the website PayPal to wire money transfers.”
- Joshua Ryne Goldberg, “arrested in September, used the internet both to radicalize and to engage in a plot. Goldberg, a self-described radical free speech advocate, maintained a very active pro-ISIS Twitter feed on which he claimed to have inspired the shooting at a Draw Mohammed contest in Garland, Texas in May 2015, and that he was developing a network of attackers worldwide.”
- Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas, “arrested in February, engaged with online propaganda materials for years prior to using the internet to study bomb-making techniques. Siddiqui had corresponded with Samir Khan and published an article in his online propaganda magazine, Jihad Recollections. Velentzas was friends on Facebook with Tairod Pugh, arrested in February for providing material support to ISIS. Siddiqui had corresponded with Mohammed Osman Mohamed, who attempted to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010. The two also watched videos by Anwar al-Awlaki and ISIS propaganda videos online and accessed bomb making instructions from Inspire Magazine,” and The Anarchist Cookbook.
The ADL report only details those who were caught, of course. So, while investigators have their hands full, dealing with an abundance of terror-related cases in the U.S., an increasing amount of terror-linked individuals are choosing to stay in the U.S. to engage, plot and attempt attacks.
FBI Director James Comey warned late last year that his caseload of ISIS suspects has exploded to more than 900 in all 50 states.
Jim Hanson, Executive Vice President of the Center for Security Policy, in an interview with Chris Wallace, on Fox News, spoke about the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in radicalization in the U.S.:
“But there’s a larger civilization jihad that the Muslim Brotherhood is perpetrating in America. They have a plan. They are using the Muslim Student’s Associations that they have formed, they are using mosques where they buy the land where they import the Imam and front groups to go ahead and push that agenda.”
“They, the Muslim Brotherhood through a number of front groups, one of which is the North American Islamic Trust, have bought property and put in place most of the mosques in the United States. So they buy them, they set up front groups to go ahead and get them staffed. They import the Imams to do a lot of the preaching and they bring in the traveling Imams. So this is an operation where they are setting up to be able to preach jihad and radicalize people under the cover of religious freedom here in the United States. It’s a cunning plan.”
An open border and the proposed arrival of more unvetted refugees only increases the risk of more attacks in the U.S. Add to that the inability of the U.S. government to counter terrorism online. Most of the discovery and reporting of terror activity online is done by volunteers such as GhostSec, CtrlSec and various other individuals involved in #OpISIS. But, the amount of terrorist activity online, including on the Darknet, is voluminous. Thwarting this Internet activity reduces terror recruitment–which impacts terrorists’ ability to fight and carry out attacks.