Friday, February 16, 2024

U.S. Citizen Charged with Providing Material Support to Isis And Receiving Military-Type Training at Isis Fighter Camp

Harafa Hussein Abdi Joined ISIS fighters in Somalia in 2015 and Threatened to Attack New York City in the Name of ISIS

A complaint was unsealed today charging Harafa Hussein Abdi, 41, of Minneapolis, with providing and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and receiving and conspiring to receive military-type training from ISIS. Abdi, a U.S. citizen, was recently taken into custody overseas and was transported to the United States yesterday. Abdi will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie Figueredo in Manhattan federal court later today.

“As stated in the complaint, Mr. Abdi left his country to join ISIS, trained as a fighter and actively aided the group’s propaganda efforts to spread its vile ideology,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “There is no higher priority for the National Security Division than to protect Americans from terrorist organizations and we will work tirelessly to find and hold accountable those who would join these groups to do our people harm wherever they may be.”

“As alleged, Harafa Hussein Abdi, a citizen of this country, traveled from Minnesota to join a group of ISIS fighters in Somalia,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “While training with ISIS fighters in Somalia, Abdi allegedly carried an AK-47, threatened to attack civilians in New York City, and encouraged others to carry out such attacks. Our law enforcement partners have relentlessly pursued this investigation to ensure the disruption of Abdi’s alleged plans to wage terror on our shores and bring Abdi to an American court to face justice. No matter how long it takes, this office is steadfast in its commitment to investigate, disrupt and prosecute terrorist threats against Americans.”

“Abdi allegedly trained in an ISIS camp, encouraged others to fight on behalf of ISIS, and sent social media messages  about committing violent acts in New York City,” said Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “The FBI works tirelessly to protect the American people against acts of terrorism and will hold accountable all those who break our laws and endanger our citizens. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners both here and overseas to uncover and disrupt terrorist activity.”

As alleged in the complaint, Abdi, moved from Minnesota to Somalia in 2015. Once there, he joined a group of ISIS fighters at an ISIS training camp in the Puntland region of Somalia. During his time with the group, Abdi regularly carried an AK-47 assault rifle and received training on how to use it. In addition, Abdi worked in the ISIS group’s “media” wing, where he filmed footage for distribution by a pro-ISIS media outlet.

In social media communications during his time at the ISIS camp, Abdi described how he had left the United States and joined the “Islamic state.” Abdi also stated that he had made “hijra,” an Arabic term used by ISIS supporters to refer to traveling overseas to join ISIS and engage in jihad. Abdi also sent a photograph of himself carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, as depicted below:
Photo of the defendant carrying an AK-47 assault rifle

In or about January 2017, Abdi sent an audio clip of rap lyrics in which he expressed support for ISIS and described multiple acts of violence, including shooting and bombing individuals in New York City. Specifically, Abdi stated, “hollow tips put a hole in your Catholic vest, and chop his head off let it rest on his Catholic chest.” Abdi further stated, “We going to carry on jihad”; “Fly through America on our way to shoot New York up. They trying to shut this thing. We ain’t going. We going to come blow New York up.” Abdi sent the audio clip to at least 20 other social media users and included messages with the audio clip, such as “Fighting back the kuffar who’s at war with Muslims if [that] is not islam then I don’t know wats Islam.”

Abdi left the ISIS camp in 2017 after his relationship with the ISIS group’s leadership deteriorated. After being jailed by the group, Abdi escaped and traveled to East Africa, where he was arrested by law enforcement authorities. In subsequent Mirandized interviews with FBI personnel, Abdi admitted that he had joined the training camp, which was affiliated with a known ISIS leader in Somalia. Abdi also identified himself in an ISIS propaganda video that he helped to film at the training camp in which Abdi carried an AK-47 assault rifle, promoted ISIS and urged others to join and fight on its behalf. In the video, Abdi said, “We thank almighty God for making us His soldiers and chose us to be among the Khilafa troops,” and “So do not stay behind, brother, and get on this caravan…. Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil.” Abdi also admitted that he was trained on and regularly carried an AK-47 assault rifle and practiced shooting the AK-47 in the Somali wilderness outside the camp.

Abdi is charged with (i) conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; (ii) providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; (iii) conspiring to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison; and (iv) receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine or both.

The FBI’s New York Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the case. The National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, Justice’s Department’s Office of International Affairs, FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, the FBI’s International Operations Division and the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection provided assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas S. Bradley for the Southern District of New York is prosecuting the case, with assistance from Trial Attorney Kevin Nunnally of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Tragic Loss: Three Army Reserve Soldiers Remembered for Their Sacrifice

The Department of Defense has sadly announced the passing of three dedicated Army Reserve soldiers who were actively supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, aged 46, hailing from Carrollton, Georgia; Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, aged 24, from Waycross, Georgia; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, aged 23, representing Savannah, Georgia, tragically lost their lives on January 28, 2024, in Jordan. Their passing occurred when a one-way unmanned aerial system (OWUAS) tragically impacted their container housing units. An investigation into this incident is currently underway.

These valiant soldiers were proudly assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, located at Fort Moore, Georgia.

For further information regarding Sgt. William J. Rivers, Spc. Kennedy L. Sanders, and Spc. Breonna A. Moffett, members of the media are encouraged to reach out to Lt. Col. Addie Leonhardt, the Chief of Public Information at the U.S. Army Reserve Command Public Affairs Office in Fort Liberty, North Carolina. Lt. Col. Leonhardt can be contacted via phone at 910-570-8337 or on mobile at 910-622-3654. Alternatively, you may reach out via email at addie.l.leonhardt.mil@army.mil. Our thoughts and condolences are with the families and colleagues of these brave soldiers during this difficult time.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Intersection of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Domestic Terrorism: Preparedness, Challenges, and Resilience

The threat of domestic terrorism poses a significant challenge to the safety and security of communities across the United States. Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) have emerged as a vital component of local disaster response efforts. This essay explores the intersection of CERT and domestic terrorism, focusing on preparedness, challenges, and the role CERT plays in enhancing community resilience in the face of such threats.

Preparedness for Domestic Terrorism

  1. Training and Education: CERT programs provide essential training to community members on disaster preparedness and response. This training can be adapted to include recognizing signs of domestic terrorism, understanding the threat landscape, and knowing how to report suspicious activities to law enforcement.

  2. Communication Skills: CERT members are equipped with effective communication skills, which can be crucial in disseminating information during an act of domestic terrorism. They can serve as vital conduits between first responders and the community, helping to manage panic and coordinate responses.

  3. Medical Support: CERT training often includes basic medical skills. In the event of domestic terrorism, CERT members can provide immediate medical assistance to victims before professional responders arrive, potentially saving lives.

Challenges at the Intersection

  1. Recognizing Threats: Identifying domestic terrorism threats can be challenging, as they often involve radicalization within the community. CERT members must be trained to recognize signs of extremist ideologies and behaviors.

  2. Security Concerns: Engaging CERT members in counterterrorism efforts raises security concerns. Balancing community engagement with the need to prevent potential insider threats is a delicate task.

  3. Communication and Coordination: Effectively integrating CERT into counterterrorism strategies requires seamless communication and coordination with law enforcement agencies. Establishing protocols for information sharing and response procedures is crucial.

CERT as a Pillar of Community Resilience

  1. Building Trust: CERT programs foster trust between community members and responders. This trust can be invaluable in encouraging reporting of suspicious activities related to domestic terrorism.

  2. Rapid Response: CERT members are often among the first on the scene in disaster situations. In the context of domestic terrorism, their quick response can mitigate casualties and provide initial support.

  3. Community Healing: Beyond immediate response, CERT volunteers can play a crucial role in community healing and recovery after a domestic terrorism incident. Their familiarity with the community can provide comfort and support to victims.

Conclusion

The intersection of Community Emergency Response Teams and domestic terrorism underscores the importance of preparing communities for multifaceted threats. While CERT programs traditionally focus on natural disasters, their adaptability makes them a valuable asset in combating domestic terrorism. By incorporating counterterrorism training, addressing challenges, and emphasizing community resilience, CERTs can contribute to enhancing overall security and preparedness, ensuring that communities are better equipped to respond to a wide range of emergencies, including acts of domestic terrorism.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Deciphering the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU): Origin, History, Tactics, Goals, Notable Events, Individuals, and Future Potential

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has played a significant role in the landscape of global terrorism, particularly in Central Asia. With its origins in the early 1990s, the group has evolved, adapting its tactics and objectives over time. This article unravels the complex story of the IMU, examining its origin, history, tactics, goals, notable events, key individuals, and potential future trajectory.

Origin and History

The IMU was founded in the early 1990s, emerging from the discontent and radicalization within Uzbekistan and neighboring Central Asian states. Initially, it aimed to establish an Islamic state in Uzbekistan, governed by strict interpretations of Sharia law. Over time, the group expanded its focus to include broader regional and global jihadist goals.

Tactics

The IMU has employed a variety of tactics to achieve its objectives:

  1. Guerrilla Warfare: The group has engaged in guerrilla warfare, launching attacks against Uzbek security forces and other perceived enemies.

  2. Infiltration and Safe Havens: IMU fighters have infiltrated into neighboring countries, seeking refuge in remote mountainous regions, making them difficult to target.

  3. Suicide Attacks: The group has carried out suicide bombings and targeted assassinations to achieve its goals.

Goals

The IMU's goals have evolved over time:

  1. Initial Objective: The establishment of an Islamic state in Uzbekistan.

  2. Regional Jihad: Expanding its influence across Central Asia and supporting broader global jihad.

Notable Events

  1. 1999-2001 Insurgency: The IMU was involved in a series of clashes with Uzbek forces, creating instability in the Ferghana Valley.

  2. Afghanistan Conflict: The group allied with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, fighting alongside them in Afghanistan during the early 2000s.

Notable Individuals

  1. Tahir Yuldashev: As a founding member and leader of the IMU, Yuldashev played a pivotal role in the group's activities.

  2. Juma Namangani: Another key leader, Namangani led IMU fighters in various conflicts.

Future Potential

The IMU's future trajectory remains uncertain but is influenced by several factors:

  1. Regional Dynamics: Changing dynamics in Central Asia, including security cooperation among neighboring states, can impact the group's operations.

  2. International Counterterrorism Efforts: Continued efforts to combat terrorism globally may hinder the IMU's ability to operate and access resources.

  3. Radicalization: The group's ability to radicalize and recruit individuals may contribute to its resurgence.

  4. Alliances: The IMU's alliances with other extremist groups can shape its future activities and potential threats.

Conclusion

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan's history, tactics, objectives, notable events, key individuals, and potential future trajectory paint a complex picture of a group that has been a significant actor in Central Asian and global terrorism. As security dynamics continue to evolve, understanding the dynamics of the IMU remains essential for countering the persistent threat of extremism in the region and beyond.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Terrorism QuickBrief: Exploring the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU): Origins, History, Notable Events, Individuals, Purpose, Goals, and Future Threat

The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) is a lesser-known extremist organization that has gained attention for its activities in Central Asia and beyond. With a history rooted in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse, the group's origins, notable events, key individuals, purpose, goals, and potential future threat demand closer examination. This article delves into the intricate story of the Islamic Jihad Union.

Origin and History

The Islamic Jihad Union emerged in the early 2000s, originating from the remnants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The IMU's collapse due to counterterrorism efforts led to the formation of the IJU, with the aim of establishing an Islamic state in Central Asia and overthrowing secular governments.

Notable Events

  1. Terrorist Attacks: The IJU is linked to several significant attacks, including suicide bombings and assassinations targeting government officials and security forces in Central Asia.

  2. Transnational Activities: The group expanded its activities beyond Central Asia, engaging in attacks and collaborating with other extremist organizations in regions such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Notable Individuals

  1. Najmiddin Jalolov: Also known as Abu Yahya al-Libi, Jalolov was a prominent IJU leader known for his influence and role in shaping the group's strategy.

  2. Tahir Yuldashev: One of the founders of the IJU, Yuldashev was instrumental in its establishment and connection to global jihadism.

Purpose and Goals

The IJU's primary purpose is to establish an Islamic state based on its interpretation of Sharia law in Central Asia. Its goals include overthrowing secular governments, expelling foreign influences, and spreading its extremist ideology.

Future Potential Threat

  1. Regional Destabilization: The IJU's activities have the potential to destabilize Central Asian countries, contributing to insecurity and regional conflicts.

  2. Global Connections: The group's ties with other extremist organizations, including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, could lead to collaborations that amplify its reach and impact.

  3. Radicalization and Recruitment: The IJU's ability to recruit and radicalize individuals, particularly in vulnerable communities, poses a persistent future threat.

  4. Terrorist Financing: The group's involvement in criminal activities and fundraising networks could provide resources for sustaining its operations.

Conclusion

The Islamic Jihad Union's origin, history, notable events, individuals, purpose, goals, and future potential threat underline its significance in the evolving landscape of extremism. As Central Asian nations and the international community continue to address the challenges posed by extremist organizations, understanding the dynamics of the IJU is essential for shaping effective counterterrorism strategies, preventing radicalization, and maintaining regional and global security.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Terrorism QuickBrief: Unraveling the Story of Indian Mujahideen (IM): Origin, History, Goals, Notable Actions, Events, and Potential Future Threat

The Indian Mujahideen (IM) has marked its presence as a homegrown extremist group with a history of coordinated attacks across India. Its emergence, evolution, goals, and actions reveal a complex network operating within the Indian subcontinent. This article delves into the origin, history, goals, notable actions, events, and the potential future threat posed by the Indian Mujahideen.

Origin and History

The Indian Mujahideen emerged in the mid-2000s as a result of the ideological radicalization of a segment of Indian Muslim youth. The group is believed to have links with the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Lashkar-e-Taiba. IM adopted a violent approach to promote its extremist ideology, targeting civilians and security forces alike.

Goals

The primary goal of the Indian Mujahideen is to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law within India. The group sees itself as a defender of the rights of Indian Muslims and seeks to challenge the Indian government's authority through violent means.

Notable Actions

  1. Serial Bomb Blasts: IM gained notoriety through its involvement in several coordinated bomb blasts in various Indian cities, resulting in numerous casualties.

  2. 2008 Delhi Serial Blasts: One of the most devastating attacks attributed to IM, the 2008 Delhi blasts targeted crowded markets, leaving a trail of destruction.

Notable Events

  1. Batla House Encounter: In 2008, a controversial police encounter in Batla House, Delhi, resulted in the death of two IM members and the arrest of another.

  2. Banned Organization: The Indian government banned the Indian Mujahideen in 2010, recognizing its threat to national security.

Potential Future Threat

  1. Recruitment and Radicalization: The Indian Mujahideen's ability to radicalize and recruit disaffected youth remains a significant concern, potentially fueling future attacks.

  2. Network Resilience: The group's elusive network and connections could facilitate its resurgence despite law enforcement efforts.

  3. Soft Targets: The IM's strategy of targeting densely populated areas and public spaces increases the potential for mass casualties and fear propagation.

  4. Collaborations: Potential collaborations with international extremist groups might amplify IM's reach and capabilities.

Conclusion

The Indian Mujahideen's presence underscores the challenges of combating homegrown extremism. Its origin, history, goals, and actions paint a portrait of an organization willing to employ violence to achieve its objectives. The potential for future threats requires continuous vigilance, efforts to counter radicalization, and enhanced intelligence sharing to ensure the safety and security of India and its citizens. Understanding the complex dynamics of IM is vital in addressing the persistent challenge of domestic terrorism and safeguarding national stability.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Terrorism QuickBrief: Hurras al-Din: Tracing Origins, Evolution, Objectives, Tactics, Key Events, Notable Figures, and Future Challenges

Hurras al-Din, an extremist organization operating in the complex landscape of Syria, emerged as a significant player in the global jihadist scene. Established in response to shifting dynamics within the Syrian conflict, the group's evolution, goals, tactics, and impact warrant closer examination. This article delves into the origin, history, objectives, tactics, notable events, key figures, and potential future challenges posed by Hurras al-Din.

Origin and History

Hurras al-Din, which translates to "Guardians of the Religion," was formed in early 2018 as an offshoot of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), itself an evolution of Jabhat al-Nusra. HTS's pragmatic approach clashed with more hardline elements, leading to the emergence of Hurras al-Din. The group pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and aimed to reassert the Salafi-jihadist ideology in Syria.

Goals and Objectives

Hurras al-Din's primary goal is to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law, founded on its strict interpretation of Islamic principles. The organization seeks to remove foreign influences from the region and expand its influence, not just within Syria but also across the broader jihadi landscape.

Tactics

The group employs a mix of conventional and guerrilla tactics:

  1. Military Operations: Hurras al-Din has engaged in armed confrontations against various actors in Syria, including the Syrian government forces and rival armed groups.

  2. Terrorist Attacks: The organization has carried out suicide bombings, assassinations, and targeted attacks against military and civilian targets.

  3. Ideological Messaging: Hurras al-Din disseminates propaganda through online platforms to attract recruits, promote its ideology, and inspire sympathizers.

Notable Events

  1. Clashes with HTS: Hurras al-Din's formation led to clashes with HTS, resulting in internal strife within the jihadist community in Syria.

  2. Interactions with Global Jihadism: The group's allegiance to Al-Qaeda illustrates its intention to be part of the broader global jihadist movement.

Notable Figures

  1. Abu Hammam al-Shami: As Hurras al-Din's leader, al-Shami has played a crucial role in shaping the group's ideology and strategy.

  2. Sami al-Uraydi: A prominent figure within the group, al-Uraydi has issued statements outlining the organization's stance on various issues.

Potential Future Threat

  1. Competing Factions: Hurras al-Din's rivalry with other Syrian factions, including HTS, could lead to intensified conflict, contributing to overall instability.

  2. Regional and Global Impact: The group's affiliation with Al-Qaeda and its potential for expanding influence beyond Syria could pose a broader threat to regional and global security.

  3. Attracting Foreign Fighters: Hurras al-Din's hardline ideology could attract foreign fighters and contribute to the radicalization of local populations.

Conclusion

Hurras al-Din's emergence in the Syrian conflict highlights the complexities of extremist dynamics within the region. While its goals align with establishing an Islamic state, its tactics, interactions with other groups, and global affiliations illustrate its potential to impact regional and international security. As the situation in Syria remains fluid, understanding the origin, evolution, tactics, and potential future challenges posed by Hurras al-Din is crucial for addressing the ongoing threat of extremism and violence.