A mass transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees began earlier this month. At least 22 of the 59 Guantanamo Bay detainees are expected to be transferred prior to January 20 and some have been moved already. Included in these transfers are zealots who have threatened to bomb and behead US citizens.
There is often limited supervision in the countries Guantanamo detainees are sent to and the recidivism rate is high. Previously freed detainees that have returned to the jihad include at least four members of the group which claims it carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Others in the group being released include an accused senior Al Qaeda bomb-maker, a senior Al Qaeda financial manager and two intended 9/11 hijackers–all of whom have been held at Guantanamo for more than a decade.
They will likely add to the growing list of violent activity planned in various parts of the world–particularly in the West.
Several threats have surfaced over the past month or so and these are threats specific to the US and parts of Europe. The following are just a few of the dangers uncovered recently:
- Ben Wallace, UK Minister of State for Security, has warned that ISIS is planning to use chemical weapons on Britain. Wallace pointed out that ISIS already has the ability to manufacture mustard gas and they have used it in the Middle East.
- Wallace also indicated that Al-Qaeda is regrouping and becoming more dangerous. He noted that there are traitors and if it’s difficult for an Al Qaeda operative to get in the front door, then they will attempt to work through someone who is on the inside.
- In the 5th issue of the Islamic State digital magazine Rumiyah, ISIS propaganda media outlets recommend that lone wolf attackers utilize fire as a weapon of terror. Specific areas in the United States are suggested, such as First Baptist Dallas. The magazine advises that First Baptist Dallas is “a popular Crusader gathering place waiting to be burned down.” The article also provides a lists of hospitals, nightclubs, schools and Shia mosques as targets. The article ends with, “Arson attacks should in no way be belittled. They cause great economic destruction and emotional havoc and can be repeated very easily.”
- There’s a guerrilla warfare training compound, in Hancock, NY. The compound is the headquarters for Muslims of the Americas, a group that follows a radical cleric in Pakistan. According to national security expert, Ryan Mauro, “There is actually a place there called Islamburg. They have a sign that says ‘Welcome to Islamburg.’”
Increasing Concern Over Jihadist Activity on Telegram Channels
Telegram promotes itself as a secure app and due to its massive popularity with jihadists, it has become a major obstacle for law enforcement officials
One of the app’s features, the secret chat, has been used for spreading propaganda, inciting violence, recruitment, plotting attacks, providing instructions on bomb making and fundraising. It was recently used by ISIS supporters to draw up plans to target US and British nationals and to collaborate on a plan to target the US embassy in the UK. According to MEMRI, “Highlighting the popularity of Telegram among jihadis, ISIS released the 30-minute audio recording of the most recent speech by leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi via the platform.”
Global Intelligence Insight (GII), a cyber intelligence organization based in London, UK, has years of experience in tracking down threat actors on the internet. The agency is now collaborating on some cases with Ghost Cyber Intel, a private intelligence agency which specializes in counterterrorism, cybersecurity, black ops and threat actor tracking. The following are some recent observations of GII regarding jihadist activity on Telegram:
- An increase in incitement of lone wolf attacks against US citizens. This is occurring, in particular, on invitation-only channels.
- A pro-ISIS invitation-only channel has been disseminating information related to carrying out lone wolf jihadist attacks globally.
- Jihadists on Telegram have been distributing a book entitled, “Advice for those doing Hijrah.” Hijrah is the Arabic word for emigration.
- Pro-ISIS invitation-only channels are continuously issuing threats against US citizens.
The pro-ISIS movement on Telegram continues to expand its reach. For example, one ISIS-supporting group has been recruiting translators for pro-ISIS videos they plan to release in 12 languages.
Additionally, MEMRI reports that, “on January 2 and 3, 2017, a Telegram channel which frequently calls for lone wolf attacks in the West and periodically provides various methods for launching such attacks, posted several threats to the U.S. along with instructions on building pressure cooker bombs and manufacturing chemical weapons. On January 3, the channel published a poster that included cursory instructions on manufacturing a chemical weapon. The channel noted that the dissemination of ‘disease[-inducing] and chemical gases completely paralyzes life in vital [enemy] areas.’ Later, on January 09, 2017 Pro-Al-Qaeda Telegram Channel Launches Campaign inciting Terror In Russia, USA and France.”
There was a spike in terror attacks around the globe in 2016. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) has said that, “what’s clearer than ever is that Islamist terror has been franchised to thousands of followers, who are using everything from sophisticated explosives to their own cars to attack innocent people, as we’ve seen in Nice, Berlin, and this weekend in Israel. Alarmingly, there were more ISIS plots against the West in 2016 than any year since the group was formed. That is why our New Year’s resolution must be to go on the offensive—to protect our people, our values, and our way of life. If 2016 was remembered as a ‘year of terror,’ then 2017 should be remembered as the year we fought back.”