ISIS and AQIM – Highlights, April 16-25, 2015
By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Sunday, April 26th, 2015 @ 10:33PM
The following are highlights of ISIS and AQIM global activities:
* April 25, 2015 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a classified warning about a potential attack by the Islamic State over the targets in the United States.
* North Carolina: On April 21, 2015, a sixteen-year old boy was arrested by the FBI in North Carolina, for participating in a plot “to attack an unnamed North Carolina military base, shooting soldiers on the base at random,” then travel to the Middle East to join ISIS. The teen was recruited by a radical Muslim man.
* Minnesota: On April 20, Federal prosecutors charged six Minneapolis men for repeatedly attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS. The six were recruited by “American Abdi Nur, who succeeded in reaching Syria and then spent months encouraging his friends back in Minneapolis to join him in fighting with ISIS.
A senior law enforcement official said this reflects a growing trend of a “peer to peer” network model of terror recruitment, particularly amongst radicalized individuals within the Somali-American community. Rather than large facilitation networks or a hierarchy of recruiting historically seen in terrorism cases, the official said there’s a shift toward diffused, unorganized networking through social media and in groups of friends.
“This isn’t going away in the short term,” the official said, adding that this is a significant case because some of the individuals knew they were on the radar of law enforcement and still tried to proceed. A separate law enforcement official told CNN there are other ongoing investigations into recruiting and travel of individuals to Syria from Minnesota.”
* “On April 13, 2015, ISIS issued a video entitled “We will burn America,” in which the organization warns that it will carry out an attack against America like the attack on the World Trade Center. In the video, ISIS calls on its supporters to operate as lone wolf terrorists on American soil. The video shows the attack on the World Trade Center and says that the operatives are now much stronger and have more resources than before and could “burn” the United States once again. The end of the video includes a number of beheadings (including that of US citizen James Foley) and the burning of the Jordanian pilot (KP, Afghani News Agency, April 13, 2015).”
Spotlight on Global Jihad, published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, included the following:
* Australian police in Melbourne arrested two youths suspected of planning to carry out an attack using knives or swords during Memorial Day ceremonies in Australia and New Zealand (scheduled to take place on April 25, 2015). The planned attack was apparently inspired by ISIS (AFP, April 18, 2015).
* Australia and Iran have agreed to share intelligence about Australians fighting in Iraq. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that the agreement would help both countries in their efforts in the war against ISIS. Under the agreement, Australia will have access to intelligence collected by Iranian operatives in Iraq. According to Ms. Bishop, Australia began to look for ways to share intelligence with Iran as long ago as 2014. The matter became more important after the attack in December 2014, when an Iranian refugee took 18 people hostage in a café in Sydney. The foreign minister said that the agreement with Iran would be of assistance in the war on terror because she believes that Iran has the information that the Australians are looking for, and is willing to share it with them (BBC, April 20, 2015).
* Asif Malik, 31, and his partner Sara Kiran, 29, residents of Berkshire, Britain, disappeared with their four young children some two weeks ago. Asif Malik is a former member of Al-Muhajiroun, an organization that is banned in Britain. He is close to organization leader Anjem Choudary, a prominent figure in Britain who encourages Moslems to join the ranks of the jihadists in Syria and Iraq. [Choudary was born in Britain (1967) to a family of Pakistani descent, studied medicine at the University of Southampton (but it is unclear whether he graduated and was certified as a doctor), attended law school and became a lawyer. Subsequently he headed the Society of Muslim Lawyers. He was assistant to jihadi cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad (who now lives in Lebanon and keeps in touch with him), who founded Al-Muhajiroun, an organization that is banned by the British authorities. He later helped found Al-Ghurabaa, another organization that is banned. In 2008, he established Islam4UK and became its spokesman. The organization was shut down by the British authorities in 2010. He has criticized Britain’s activity in Iraq and Afghanistan and has praised Osama bin Laden. In May 2012, he visited the Netherlands to promote the establishment of Sharia4Holland, an organization encouraging foreign fighters to go to Syria (www.militantislammonitor.org, July 12, 2013).] The family was photographed by security cameras boarding a ferry in Dover. From there the family travelled through Europe by train until they arrived in Istanbul, from where they apparently departed for Syria (The Mirror, April 19, 2015).
* Further to Turkey’s efforts to block the flow of operatives travelling through Turkey to Syria, Turkish authorities deported eight British citizens, four of them children, from the airport in Antalya, after they tried to enter Syria illegally to join the fighting. Another Briton, the son of Labour Party activist, was also deported from Dalaman Airport (World Bulletin, April 15, 2015).
* A couple, both Spanish citizens, were arrested in Turkey on suspicion of being ISIS operatives. The couple, a man of Moroccan descent and a woman from Spain, lived in Spanish Morocco. They regularly encouraged operatives to travel from Spain to Syria and join ISIS (Zaman, April 18, 2015). The foreign fighters who join ISIS include Spanish nationals from the Spanish region on the northern coast of Morocco.
* Turkish authorities recently stepped up their counterterrorism measures against jihadi operatives who enter Turkey. These measures apparently make it harder for the foreign fighters to join the ranks of ISIS. But so far, they have failed to stop the flow of operatives who join ISIS and other jihadi organizations in Syria and Iraq.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – New Threats
* The southern Yemen-based jihadi terrorist organization, AQAP, which is led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, seeks to take control of Yemen, harm the Saudi regime and turn Yemen and Saudi Arabia into countries that are run according to the Salafist-jihadi perception. AQAP sees the US as a central enemy and has tried several times, unsuccessfully, to harm US aviation. The Americans have designated AQAP as the most active and dangerous of all the Al-Qaeda branches. The attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo (January 7, 2015) was carried out by two Moslem brothers of Algerian extraction affiliated with AQAP.The organization issued a video expressing solidarity with the attack and calling on jihadists to carry out additional attacks in France (although AQAP did not officially claim responsibility for the attack).