The Canadian government warned that roughly 60 "extremist travelers" have returned to Canada, in a new report outlining major threats from terrorist organizations including the Islamic State and Hizballah.
The report states that "a violent act of terrorism could occur in Canada," corroborating similar assertions from some U.S. officials who have warned about Islamic State operatives and sympathizers residing in the U.S.
"Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, more than 36,500 extremist travelers from over 100 countries, including at least 6,600 individuals from Western countries, have travelled to Syria," the report said.
The few that returned to North America pose a major threat to both Canada and the United States.
Since 2002, the Canadian government has charged more than 40 people with terrorism-related offenses – 16 of whom were charged since January 2015. One of the suspects "maintained contact with terrorists in Iran and Afghanistan while working to recruit other men and raise money to finance a proposed attack [in Canada]," the report said.
The suspect returned to Canada with the motivation and expertise to finance and train a terrorist cell in the country's capital, Ottawa.
While the Islamic State remains the primary focus of Canadian counterterrorism officials, the government report also refers to the Iranian sponsored Hizballah as "one of the world's most capable terrorist groups" and a "threat to Canadian interests."
According to the report, "Hizballah has networks around the world, including in Canada, and uses the networks for recruitment, fundraising and procurement."
Unlike the Canadian government, the Obama administration has not released data concerning the estimated number of Islamic State affiliated individuals in the U.S.
Click here to read the full report from the Canadian government.
Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service announced Tuesday that it busted Hizballah terrorist cells operating in the West Bank planning to conduct attacks against Israelis. Nine alleged operatives were arrested over the last several months.
Members of Hizballah's Unit 133 external operations branch used social media services, especially Facebook, to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank.
"The Hizballah organization has recently made it a priority to try to spark terror acts, doing so from far away, while attempting to not clearly expressing its involvement," read a Shin Bet statement.
Funded by Hizballah, terrorist cells prepared explosives to conduct suicide bombings and attack Israel Defense Forces (IDF) patrols in the West Bank.
A Shin Bet investigation found that cell ringleader Mustafa Kamal Hindi was recruited though the "Palestine the Free" Facebook page featuring anti-Israel Hizballah posts. Hindi then recruited other operatives for a shooting attack against the IDF. Each of the cell members were between the ages of 18-22 and hailed from the West Bank town of Qalqilya. Security forces arrests the cell members in June.
One of the members, Mehmed Daoud, has ties to Hamas. A different operative purchased the material required to build a suicide bomb, while another was tasked with building the explosive device. Another terrorist focused on garnering intelligence about IDF patrols in the area. The group also began training with rifles for shooting attacks.
Gaza-based Hizballah operative Mehmed Fa'iz Abu-Jadian also used Facebook to recruit three other Palestinian men from the West Bank to carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Abu-Jadian recruited Usama Nu'af Sid Najm, 36, and ordered him to use a computer encryption program to communicate with Hizballah members in Lebanon.
Najm was paid $900 to recruit others and facilitate a suicide attack, the Shin Bet said.
Najm also coordinated with a member of the Syria-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to form a division in the West Bank. These details show that terrorist organizations with different ideological and religious objectives can cooperate effectively to attack their common enemy – the Jewish state.
Click here to read more details about other Hizballah attempts at recruiting Palestinians for terrorist attacks.
In January, a Shin Bet investigation revealed that Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah's son, Jawan, recruited terrorists in the West Bank via social media. Through encrypted email exchanges with a Hizballah handler, cell ring leader Muhammad Zaghloul received instructions for conducting suicide-bombing attacks and offered a plan to kill an IDF officer. Zaghloul admitted that the cell conducted surveillance of the officer and requested $30,000 to purchase arms to kill him.
The operatives received $5,000 from Hizballah, which covered the purchase of a sub-machine gun and magazine. The plot to shoot Israeli soldiers was likely in its execution phase since the two terrorists were arrested in possession of the firearm.
Unit 133 continues trying to build networks among Palestinians, but has failed to secure a major presence in the West Bank. Those efforts are likely to continue despite the arrests.
A special envoy to the United Nations (UN) wants international humanitarian organizations to cease assistance transfers to Gaza, "as long as Hamas is in control."
Recent reports detail how Hamas is diverting millions of dollars intended for Gaza's civilians in order to rebuild the organization's terrorist capabilities.
"The enemy of the people of Gaza is Hamas, not Israel. Hamas has hijacked the coastal strip and rules over its people with an iron fist," UN Special Envoy Laurie Cardoza-Moore said Thursday. "For decades, the leadership of Hamas has robbed its people of aid money...The time has come to halt all aid money into the Gaza Strip as long as Hamas is in control."
Cardoza-Moore's strong message comes shortly after Gaza-based UN employee was indicted for laundering charitable donations to improve Hamas' naval capabilities. Earlier this month, Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service reported that Hamas funnelled tens of millions of dollars from World Vision, a U.S.-based international charity.
The terrorist group reportedly siphoned 60 percent of the charity's resources in Gaza to reconstruct Hamas' tunnel network and military installations, in addition to purchasing weapons intended to kill Israelis. This translated to roughly $7.2 million each year.
The money was intended to help in civilian reconstruction efforts for Gaza's population, including building greenhouses, enhancing agricultural projects, helping fishermen, and promoting mental and physical health initiatives.
Instead "these [funds] were all used as a pipeline to transfer money to Hamas," Shin Bet said.
Hamas terrorists also falsely listed their children as injured to collect money intended to help children in Gaza who were actually wounded.
"If the international community wants to help the impoverished people of Gaza, they must work to free them from Hamas...It is unacceptable that hundreds of millions of dollars are likely being directly transferred to the coffers of an international terrorist organization in the name of Christianity and humanity. No church or humanitarian organization should send a single cent to Gaza as long as it is run by a band of murderous terrorist bandits," said Cardoza-Moore.
Since the end of the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, several reports emerged documenting how the terrorist group prioritizes killing Israelis over serving its population. The latest investigations uncover important details on how Hamas exploits legitimate charitable organizations globally to finance its terrorist capabilities at the expense of needy civilians and societal development.
Jabhat al-Nusra's July 28 announcement of its new name and avatar, the Fateh al-Sham Front ("The Victory in Al-Sham Front"), does not mean the terrorist group has formally split ties with al-Qaida, an Israeli intelligence report warns.
Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as the Nusra Front) pledged allegiance to al-Qaida in 2013.
In a video aired first on Al Jazeera, Abu Mohammad al-Julani announced "complete cancellation of all operations under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra" and said his group "has no affiliation to any external entity," signaling a split from al-Qaida. The move is designed to make it difficult for the U.S.-led coalition and Russia to carry out air strikes against the terrorist group following its break with al-Qaida, the report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) said.
The U.S. and Russia recently agreed to cooperate in fighting against the al-Nusra Front in Syria.
Fateh al-Sham may find it easier to collaborate with other Syrian rebel organizations fighting to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime. Other rebel groups were unwilling to collaborate with Jabhat al-Nusra for fear of becoming targets of airstrikes because of the terror group's affiliation with al-Qaida.
But the split seems more cosmetic, the ITIC report said, noting that "Fateh al-Sham Front continues to adhere to Al-Qaeda's Salafist-jihadi ideology (as reflected in the charter published by the Fateh al -Sham front)."
Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to have blessed the move from Jabhat al-Nusrah to Fateh al-Sham. During his announcement, al-Julani praised and thanked al-Qaida leaders for their support. "Your blessed leadership constituted and still constitutes a model for preferring the interests of the Muslims over the interests of each individual organization," a translation of the announcement read.
New video reportedly shows Hizballah conducting drone airstrikes targeting radical Sunni Islamist positions in southern Aleppo.
Though it appears that Hizballah failed to inflict significant damage, the bombings illustrate the terrorist organization's growing capabilities and ability to utilize sophisticate technologies for offensive operations.
This is not the first time Hizballah reportedly used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to conduct an attack.
In 2014, the terrorist organization deployed an attack drone to kill at least 23 fighters from the al-Qaeda linked group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra.
Before then, Hizballah repeatedly deployed UAVs over Israeli airspace, primarily for reconnaissance and testing air defense systems. In one case, a Hizballah drone allegedly transmitted images of Israel's nuclear energy facility – Dimona – to its state sponsor Iran.
The latest UAV development underscores the threat Hizballah poses in a future conflict with Israel. While the group is suffering battlefield losses, it is gaining invaluable experience and learning from Russia's top-tier military. The group is also exploiting the chaos in Syria to facilitate the transfer of advanced and sophisticated weaponry from Iran, including anti-aircraft systems that would inhibit Israel's freedom of navigation over Lebanese and Syrian airspace.
Hizballah has also used advanced Iranian-made anti-tank missiles in Syria. Though it is bogged down in Syria's civil war, the terrorist organization continues to invest heavily for the next confrontation with Israel. This includes militarizing many Shi'ite neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and consolidating a base of operations against Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Access to advanced weaponry and training has increased Hizballah's confidence for a future battle. The group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, bragged about Hizballah's ability to kill tens of thousands of Israelis with Iranian-supplied precision-guided missiles, threatening to target "ammonia tanks" that hold over 15,000 tons of gas in Haifa.
Hamas diverted "tens of millions of dollars" from World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian charity, to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure, Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service said Thursday.
The terrorist group reportedly siphoned 60 percent of the charity's resources in Gaza to reconstruct Hamas' tunnel network and military installations, in addition to purchasing weapons intended to kill Israelis. This amount translated to roughly $7.2 million each year.
Israeli security personnel arrested World Vision Gaza operations manager Muhammad Halabi on June 15. On Thursday, Halabi, also an alleged Hamas operative, was indicted on several charges related to the case.
The investigation revealed that Halabi was recruited to infiltrate World Vision in 2005 for the purposes of stealing funds to help Hamas.
The alleged scheme exemplifies "the cynical and crude way in which Hamas takes advantage of funds and resources from international humanitarian aid organizations," a Shin Bet statement said.
World Vision defended Halabi and denied the accusations. As of one of the largest humanitarian and charitable organizations worldwide, World Vision receives most of its support from the United Nations and Western governments.
Millions of dollars were intended to help in civilian reconstruction efforts for Gaza's population, including building greenhouses, enhancing agricultural projects, helping fishermen, and promoting mental and physical health initiatives.
Instead "these [funds] were all used as a pipeline to transfer money to Hamas," Shin Bet said.
The alleged scheme involved Hamas operatives, posing as World Vision employees, filing fake proposals for World Vision- financed projects in Gaza, before money laundering the cash straight to Hamas and its military wing.
For example, Halabi launched an initiative to build greenhouses to hide terrorist tunnel sites, while a proposed project intended to help Gaza's fishermen ended up using the money to improve Hamas' naval capabilities.
Hamas terrorists also falsely listed their children as injured to collect money intended to help children in Gaza who were actually wounded.
Moreover, Halabi used tens of thousands of dollars from the charity's finances to buy weapons in the Sinai during ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi's reign.
For more information and examples about how Hamas diverted legitimate charitable funds from World Vision click here.
According to Israel's investigation, 40 percent of the funds allocated for civilian projects – about $1.5 million per year – were transferred to Hamas' terrorist units in cash. Approximately $4 million per year intended for helping needy civilians in Gaza were also diverted to Hamas for the purposes of enhancing its terrorist capacity.
Money was also reportedly used to pay the salaries of Hamas personnel, while some senior leaders pocketed large sums for themselves.
Since the end of the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, several reports emerged documenting how the terrorist group prioritizes its fight against Israel over the wellbeing of its population. This latest investigation uncovers important details on how Hamas exploits legitimate charitable organizations worldwide to finance its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of needy civilians and societal development.
A Palestinian terrorist planned to bomb the Jerusalem light rail last month with an explosive device containing poisonous material, Israeli police said Tuesday.
Ali Abu Hassan – a civil engineering student from a village northwest of Hebron – infiltrated Jerusalem on July 15 armed with three pipe bombs forming a large explosive. The terrorist doused nails and screws fitted on the explosive with rat poison to maximize the carnage.
Hassan researched how to make a bomb that would inflict "the most, and most effective, damage" and "even carried out test explosions with a number of bombs in order to check them before entering Israel," said the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency.
The investigation revealed that Hassan originally intended to attack a restaurant, but changed his target after seeing numerous civilians boarding Jerusalem's light rail. A security guard notified police after checking and discovering the explosive in Hassan's bag after boarding the train.
An Israeli court on Tuesday charged Hassan for building a weapon, attempted murder, and conspiracy.
Another major terrorist plot this year also involved the use of rat poison.
In June, Palestinian terrorists opened fire on a Tel Aviv café, killing four civilians and injuring 15 others. According to the indictment, the terrorists also planned to contaminate knives with rat poison and stab Israelis, going so far as to buy the poison, but never executed that part of the plan.
These incidents mark a significant development concerning the recent wave of Palestinian terrorism targeting Israelis. While most individual terrorist initiatives involved rudimentary means for attack – including stabbing and vehicular attacks – these high profile cases show that an educated Palestinian with the motivation to kill Israelis is capable of producing relatively sophisticated terrorist means that can maximize casualties. More importantly, the use of rat poison may signal the emergence of a new trend in which Palestinians seek to exploit unconventional attack methods, including chemical and biological agents, to inflict greater damage and spread fear throughout Israeli society.
An Arabic-language newspaper published in London, Ontario featured a blatantly anti-Semitic article titled: "The Question Which Everyone Ignores: Why Did Hitler Kill the Jews?", Canada's National Post reports.
The article in the latest Al Saraha accused Jews of facilitating Germany's "economic collapse" in the 1920s and encouraging "promiscuity...homosexuality...every type of sexual deviance." It also grossly underestimated how many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust – a common claim among anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers of various stripes.
According to the article, "This Jewish propaganda succeeded until it became prevalent throughout the media that six million Jews were victims of Hitler, even though the total number of Jews in Germany was less than a quarter of this figure that they say Hitler burned!"
Al Saraha is distributed widely across Middle Eastern restaurants and grocery stores in the Canadian city of London. An Ontario provincial government-funded agency focusing on immigration promotes the newspaper as reading material for immigrants.
London police are now looking into whether the article, which reprinted after originally appearing in an Egyptian daily, constitutes hate speech or free speech according to the criminal code.
A member of the Arab-Canadian community contacted B'nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights and advocacy organization, about the article. Michael Mostyn, chief executive of B'nai Brith, expressed concern that only one person saw fit to report the article.
"We have new immigrants coming into our country all the time and I think, as Canadians, we want to always ensure that these new immigrants learn the language of tolerance...Canada is the place where, while we may have our own opinions back home, and we may have our own prejudices back home, we don't import those to Canada," said Mostyn.
The Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, condemned the article in an e-mail to B'nai Brith Friday.
"I want to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the statements in the al-Saraha article that deny the Holocaust and express anti-Semitic and homophobic views. Statements like these, filled with hatred, prejudice and lies, have no place in our society...I assure you that our (Ontario Liberal) caucus will no longer purchase advertising space in this publication."
This case shows that radical Islamist incitement is not confined to the Middle East – hate rhetoric of this sort also exists in the West. Some counterterrorism experts argue that these types of sentiments also serve as incubators for domestic radicalization processes.
Instead of promoting peaceful coexistence, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has decided to honor yet another Palestinian terrorist who killed numerous Israeli civilians.
The PA unveiled a statue Sunday of terrorist Ahmad Jabarah Abu Sukkar who orchestrated a deadly bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 and injured over 60 Israelis in 1976, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports.
Abu Sukkar was released after serving 28 years of a life sentence as part of an Israeli goodwill gesture to the PA in 2003.
Senior Palestinian officials – including the director of the PA's Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, and the governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh, Laila Ghannam, – participated in the terrorists' commemoration.
Karake proclaimed that "this monument is intended to implant in the minds of sons and daughters that we are continuing to be loyal to the path of the Martyrs," the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported.
"Ahmad Abu Sukkar is a real man, a fighter, and a man who left his impression on everyone and who was a school for giving, resolve, and courage. We are proud of him as one of the symbols of the Palestinian national struggle..." Karake said.
The presence of these senior officials reinforces the fact that the Palestinian government openly glorifies people for murdering innocent Israelis, while encouraging future generations of Palestinian youth to emulate terrorists.
Earlier this month, members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee agreed to explore options to stifle a PLO program that pays monthly salaries to convicted terrorists. Palestinian affiliated organizations, including the PLO, are continuing to exploit a loophole in U.S. foreign aid that enables the Palestinian government to pay terrorists and their families. Coupled with systematic indoctrination and glorification of terrorism, generous financial payments contribute to existing incentives among Palestinian youth to attack and kill innocent Israelis.
In a speech aired on YouTube on Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cancel the terrorist commemoration to avoid promoting violence among Palestinian youth.
"Rather than dedicate a statue to a mass-murderer, I ask that you consider honoring a champion of co-existence. This will help educate future generations to love peace over war, compassion over violence," said Netanyahu.
In the wake of Thursday night's shooting death of five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest, pro-ISIS hackers posted thousands of what it says are Dallas Police Department records on their Telegram social media channel.
These records, listed in Excel spreadsheets, include the names, addresses and races of thousands of people it claims were arrested by Dallas police officers. Also posted were 12,619 alleged records showing the names, ranks, and salaries of what it claims are Dallas police officers. The Dallas Police Department has approximately 3,500 officers, so many the list could be bogus, or many of the people named may no longer be employed by the department.
In addition, the list does not include the names of fallen officers Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarippa, Lorne Ahrens, and Brent Thompson, casting further doubt on its legitimacy. Two people named Michael Smith, the fifth officer killed, do appear, but it is not known whether either entry is the same Michael Smith.
The United Cyber Caliphate, which posted the material, is known for hijacking web sites and posting kill lists of individuals in the U.S. and elsewhere for lone jihadists to hunt down; however, analysts do not believe it has direct ISIS ties. French authorities believe the group may have ties to Russia's hacking apparatus.
Many of its kill lists amount to taking credit for work done by other hackers. It distributed a kill list of more than 4,000 people last month showing their names, addresses and emails. Over half of these people were American, and an Excel spreadsheet with the same names could easily be found online, according to Vocativ. An FBI source concurred, saying that the pro-ISIS hackers lack sophistication.
In many cases, the United Cyber Caliphate's information is outdated.
Nonetheless, intelligence and law-enforcement officials take the lists seriously.
A garbled message, United Cyber Caliphate appears to hope to take advantage of racial tension as a catalyst for further violence. "In a Country warble of Freedom in the Media Are all the 'Black' Criminals ? Or it's just #America is the Terrorist? Speaking of racism Look at the Race chart from #Dallas Police Station and see the ratio of the 'White VS 'Black& Latino.'"
Dallas native and former FBI Assistant Director Oliver "Buck" Revell told the Investigative Project on Terrorism this list needs to be taken seriously in the light of last night's events.
"Potentially there are people looking for a trigger, and even though this may be erroneous this makes for a dangerous circumstance and something to be aware of," Revell said. "People are looking for something to do, and there were plenty of indications of that last night. This needs rigorous attention."
Revell is concerned that extremists even of a non-jihadist nature could use the information to cause harm.
"This should not be ignored, and we need to take as much action as we can," Revell said.