A New York man pleaded guilty Wednesday to plotting an attack on American police and soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Jose Pimentel (a/k/a Muhammad Yousuf), a Dominican convert to Islam living in Harlem, wanted to use homemade pipe bombs in the attack.
According to the original criminal complaint, Pimentel's website, .trueislam1.com, advocated violence against Americans. For example, an article titled, "Why Usamah Ibn [sic] Laden is the Leader of the Believers," said that "People have to understand that America and its allies are all legitimate targets of warfare. This includes, facilities such as army bases, police stations, political facilities, embassies, CIA and FBI buildings, private and public airports, and all kinds of buildings where money is being made to help fund the war."
In recorded conversations with a government informant, Pimentel discussed targeting Americans using explosive devices, including killing returning marines and soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. He suggested buying bomb components from Home Depot. "That is what I really want to get into because it's so cheap and it could do a lot of damage," Pimentel said in a September 2011 conversation. "[A]nd then that's something worth going to jail for, you know. Like, if you get caught because you blew up half of a side of a police station."
A month later, he said Muslims in the West "don't have any excuse for not blowing shit up, and being, doing like how we do bro. At the end of the day, you know what I'm saying, when you can make a bomb with like 20 to 30 to 40 dollars."
Pimentel is the second person prosecuted under New York State's anti-terror law passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Ahmed Ferhani, who plotted to blow up New York synagogues, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to terror-related charges.
"Manhattan continues to be the symbol of much that terrorists hate about the United States, so we remain a principal world target for terrorist attacks, both at home and from abroad," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said in a press release announcing Pimentel's plea.
Pimentel's sentencing is scheduled for March 25. His plea deal proposes a sentence of 16 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. He has already served two years in jail.
A radical Syrian cleric who spent January on a U.S. fundraising tour has erased a 2001 fatwa endorsing suicide bombings from his website.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) uncovered Sheikh Mohammad Rateb Nabulsi's fatwa last month, during his visit to raise money for two Syrian-American groups. Nabulsi visited 15 cities around the country throughout January as part of the "Syria: A Nation In Need" tour that was co-sponsored by the Syrian American Council (SAC) and Shaam Relief.
Nabulsi's April 23, 2001 fatwa drew a distinction between those who commit suicide out of a sense of despair and the "Fedayeen" who "presents himself as a sacrifice for his religion and his Umma."
He extensively cited two prior fatwas written by other radical clerics in support of his position. Nabulsi also said that "all the Jewish people [in Israel] are combatants" who can be targeted by suicide bombers.
"They do not have a career that a military rank does not encounter: doctor, pilot, engineer, for example, is a tank commander. Every civilian, citizen," he wrote. "They do not have a regular army; they have a reserve army, and all the people can fight, so this is essentially an entirely aggressive entity from A to Z. This is the Sharia ruling."
The fatwa was still available on his Arabic website when the IPT report was published Jan. 14. A more recent review of his website revealed that it had been taken down.
Evidence of the fatwa's existence can be found in an Arabic Google search. Its title appears in the search, but clicking on the link leads to a blank page. The entire fatwa can still be found on an Arabic discussion group page.
There seems to be no explanation for the fatwa's disappearance. If Nabulsi's views have evolved, and he no longer believes that suicide bombings can be justified theologically, he has not said so. Rather, this appears to be a poor attempt to hide his own radical ideology.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) waged a new attack Tuesday on anti-Islamist Muslim Zuhdi Jasser, asking that a federal commission investigate Jasser's financial supporters.
Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, also serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). CAIR and other Islamist groups tried to block that appointment in 2012. Now, CAIR wants the USCIRF to investigate Jasser's donors, who also give to other groups CAIR doesn't like. The AIFD received $45,000 from the Abstraction Fund from 2010-12, a letter from CAIR's Corey Saylor said.
The New York-based fund also gives money to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the Middle East Forum and Jihad Watch. All, Saylor claimed, play an "active role in spreading anti-Islam prejudice."
"At issue here is the reasonable concern that arises regarding Dr. Jasser accepting financial support from anti-Muslim groups while he is serving on a commission advocating for religious freedom," Saylor wrote.
What a load of nonsense. As we have shown, CAIR and others toss around accusations of "Islamophobia" as a means of stifling criticism and deflecting attention from their own shady records. Jasser is a devout Muslim who repeatedly points out that Muslims are freer to practice their faith in the United States than anywhere else in the world. He calls out the victimization narrative promoted by CAIR and other Islamist groups.
In response to CAIR's attack Tuesday, Jasser posted a link to a 2011 IPT report showing CAIR solicited money from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad praised Gaddafi's rambling, 100-minute speech to the United Nations General Assembly for having "an impact in the hearts of many people in the world." Awad later sought financial help from Gaddafi to underwrite a program to give away 1 million Qurans to government officials and the general public in America and to help start up a new foundation.
In addition, State Department records obtained by the IPT show CAIR solicited huge donations during 2006 trips to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Despite that, CAIR continues to label information about its foreign financial support as "Internet Disinformation."
"CAIR's operational budget is funded by donations from American Muslims," its website says. (To see a debunking of CAIR's "disinformation" claims, click here.)
Tuesday's letter was CAIR's second to the USCIRF about Jasser in the past month. It also took statements Jasser made during a recent television appearance to argue that he would "deny religious rights to Muslim military personnel." In fact, Jasser – a Navy veteran – said that during his service "I was able to practice my faith, fast, pray, and I never saw the need for" new policies allowing for beards, turbans and other religious garb for active duty military members.
It's fine to debate that point. But CAIR's ongoing campaign to strip Jasser of his position shows they don't want debate. They want a monopoly on determining what is acceptable for American Muslims to believe.
The Obama administration is debating whether to target an American member of al-Qaida for a drone strike, according to U.S. officials.
The Justice Department has not finished building a case against the alleged terrorist, who is said to be actively planning terrorist attacks against Americans overseas. President Obama's new policy states that American suspected terrorists abroad could only be killed by the military, as opposed to the CIA. This policy shift creates a dilemma for the administration since the suspected terrorist is located in a country that refuses American military action on its soil.
One of the U.S. officials revealed that the Pentagon recommended proceeding with a drone strike in spite of the potential domestic implications of killing an American without formal charges. The suspect is allegedly located in a well-fortified, remote area that would entail a risky military operation, if it involves U.S. troops.
The Justice Department's efforts to build a case against the suspected terrorist is similar to the case constructed against U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by drone in Yemen in 2011. Awlaki's assassination took place long before the institution of the new targeted killing policy. An official said that the president could make an exception to his policy, despite the potential objections of the country in question.
As many as 3,000 Syrian refugees may qualify for asylum in the United States even if they have provided support to terrorists, Politico reports.
That's because the Obama administration filed two exemptions to immigration laws that won't automatically reject applicants "who provided 'insignificant' or 'limited' material support for terror groups, the report says.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman defined that as "insignificant in amount or provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, family or humanitarian interactions, or under significant pressure."
She offered hypotheticals involving support for relatives who were part of terrorist groups or business owners who serve militants.
The change should not affect people considered to be a threat, a DHS official told Fox News.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., called the move "deeply alarming."
"We need to tighten security standards for asylum, not relax them even further," Sessions said.
But the move drew praise as "much needed – and long-awaited" – from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The existing policy spits out "deserving refugees ... for actions so tangential and minimal that no rational person would consider them supporters of terrorist activities."
But Sessions also took issue with the way the policy was enacted – without consultation with Congress and announced with a notice in the Federal Register.
"This action endangers our national security and defies duly-enacted law." he said. "This and other administrative actions bypassing Congress and plain law must end."
A federal appeals court upheld the convictions and sentences of individuals involved in a North Carolina terror cell that plotted to wage violent jihad overseas. A federal jury convicted Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi on terrorism-related charges in October 2011. The men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 45 years.
The three appealed their sentences citing lack of sufficient evidence, their First and Second Amendment rights, and the use information gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Fourth Circuit Court rejected their claims stating, "The laudable efforts of law enforcement and the prosecutors have ensured that, on this occasion at least, we will not be left to second-guess how a terrorist attack could have been prevented."
Court records and evidence presented at the trial showed that members of the North Carolina terror cell sought to engage in violent jihad and die as martyrs. Daniel Patrick Boyd, the ringleader of the terror cell, had traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1989 and 1992 to receive military-style training. He joined with mujahideen forces to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
Several of the defendants also traveled to Israel in June 2007 with the desire to die "as martyrs in furtherance of violent jihad." After failing to get into the country, the men returned to the United States, where they scouted potential targets for attacks, including the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va.
Boyd pleaded guilty in February 2011 and subsequently testified against several of his co-conspirators. He received a prison sentence of 18 years. Boyd's two sons, Zakaria and Dylan Boyd pleaded guilty to conspiring to providing material support to terrorists and received prison sentences between eight and nine years. Another defendant, Anes Subasic, was tried separately on immigration and terrorism charges and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker applauded the Fourth Circuit decision saying, "[It] not only affirms the convictions and sentences of these individuals, but it affirms the dedication of the many agencies involved in this investigation and prosecution to protect our nation from harms both foreign and domestic."
A University of California, Berkeley professor is requiring 100 students to create Twitter accounts and post comments about "Islamophobia," anti-Islamist Muslim activist Tarek Fatah reports.
In his Toronto Sun column Wednesday, Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, describes the "panicked message" he received from a Berkeley student taking a class taught by Hatem Bazian. Bazian directs the school's Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project.
Though the Twitter posts are a part of the student's grade, he wrote that it felt unethical because "he's basically using us as unpaid labor to work on his agenda."
Most of the students are not Muslims, Fatah writes.
The class has Islamophobia in its title, Bazian wrote in response to questions from Fatah. It "is designated as an American culture community engagement scholarship class … Students are asked to send at least one posting per week on something related to the course content, be it from the actual reading or anything they read or came across."
Bazian also serves as chairman of American Muslims for Palestine, a group which has repeatedly defended Hamas and featured speakers who say their ambition should be to challenge Israel's legitimacy as a state. During one conference, Bazian explained that universities are "the front line [for the Palestinian cause] moving forward, the front line. Why? Because this is the next generation."
Fatah points out that none of the student Twitter posts he has seen so far "challenged the validity of the term" Islamophobia. The term has been applied to everything from vandalism at mosques to terrorism-support investigations to criticism of American Islamist political groups.
Bazian widened the definition last summer, to cover Muslim political opponents. In a column for Al Jazeera, Bazian criticized the Egyptian army for forcing President Mohamed Morsi – the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for office – and for statements and imagery used to criticize the Islamist group.
The arm "unleashed a deliberate 'Othering' campaign against the Brotherhood and its supporters that was highly Islamophobic, deploying a barrage of anti-Muslim tropes to achieve the desired outcome," Bazian wrote. Millions of Egyptian Muslims took to the streets in the days and weeks before the military stepped in, demanding Morsi's ouster. Their criticism was rooted in policy failures and a perception that Morsi placed entrenching Islamist power above the needs of the masses.
Fatah remembers the flack Middle East Forum Director Daniel Pipes took in 2002, when he launched "Campus Watch" to document "the mixing of politics with scholarship." But Bazian's required Twitter assignment shows that Pipes, "the scholar of Islam, with a dozen books to his credit, was right to be concerned."
Two leading advocates of direct American involvement in Syria's civil war say the Obama administration may be considering taking a greater role.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., say Secretary of State John Kerry made blunt remarks during a bipartisan meeting Sunday indicating a more aggressive U.S. policy may be in the works. The meeting with McCain, Graham and 13 other members of Congress took place at a Munich hotel.
Afterwards, the senators briefed three reporters about their off-the-record meeting with Kerry.
Al-Qaida's presence is creating a threat that is growing "out of hand," Kerry reportedly said.
"[Kerry] acknowledged that the chemical weapons [plan]is being slow-rolled, the Russians continue to supply arms, we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy," Graham said.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that Syria was becoming an al-Qaida haven and that Jabhat al-Nusra, its Syrian branch, wants to strike inside the United States.
Approximately 26,000 extremists tied to al-Qaida and its jihadist allies now are on Syrian soil, Clapper said. Thousands of foreign fighters including Europeans and some Americans have been attracted to the Syrian battlefield.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has been fighting rival jihadist factions, including al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, in recent weeks. The lslamic Front has been painted by some Western intellectuals as the "best hope" for defeating the ISIS despite its close cooperation with al-Nusra. It has an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 fighters under its control.
ISIS's tactics have proven to be enough for al-Qaida, too. It announced Sunday in jihadi forums that the terrorist group's general command had "no connection with the group."
The U.S. has provided arms to the "moderate" Syrian rebels in larger amounts than ever before, The Telegraph reported last week.
"Our sources in the area confirmed that there are light arms coming in," said Dan Layman, from the Syrian Support Group, a U.S.-based group that has been involved with providing "nonlethal" aid to the former Free Syrian Army, said.
"The amount of weapons is bigger than it has been before, and is having a significant effect on the offensive to push the regime out of the southern parts of the country and from the suburbs of Damascus."
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki rejected McCain and Graham's account, saying "at no point during the meeting did Secretary Kerry raise lethal assistance for the opposition."
A Somali cabdriver was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for his role in a broader San Diego-based conspiracy to provide material and logistical support to the Islamic terrorist group, al-Shabaab.
Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud from Anaheim was the last of four defendants to be sentenced in connection with the conspiracy that sought to transfer funds to al-Shabaab through a now- defunct hawala or money-transmitting business system in San Diego, the Shidaal Express.
Mohamud's co-defendants included Basaaly Saeed Moalin, also a cab driver, Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, an imam at a local mosque visited by members of the local Somali immigrant community, and Issa Doreh, who worked in the hawala that helped transfer money to al-Shabaab.
A federal judge sentenced all three individuals to prison terms ranging from 10-18 years in November.
Court records and evidence presented during a three-week trial that ended a year ago showed that Moalin, the group's ringleader, was in direct telephone contact with Aden Hashen Ayrow, a well-known leader of al-Shabaab between 2007 and 2008. In those calls, Ayrow asked for several thousand dollars and said that "it is time to finance jihad." Moalin also provided his house in Somalia to serve as an al-Shabaab safe house.
Ayrow died in a U.S. missile strike in May 2008.
During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller acknowledged Mohamud's crimes were of a milder nature than those of his co-defendants but added, "These offenses are still very serious."
A study of extremist groups in Sweden finds that Islamic extremists pose the biggest threat of terrorist violence.
The study looked at extremists on the far left and far right, but finds that an election year there, and a possible return of Swedes who have joined the Syrian jihad, increase the potential for violence. Sweden's national police agency, Säpo, reported that at least 75 Swedes have gone to Syria to join the fight against dictator Bashar al-Assad.
The report was presented Friday to Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson.
The country saw its first suicide bombing in 2010, carried out by a man who moved to Sweden as a child but reportedly became radicalized during his college years in England.
Sweden is home to cartoonist Lars Vilks, whose images of the prophet Muhammad were among those published in a Danish newspaper in the fall of 2005, prompting violent protests months later. This continues to make him an assassination target for Muslim extremists throughout the world. Communication intercepted by the FBI shows that American Colleen LaRose made killing Vilks "my goal till i achieve it or die trying." She traveled in preparation for an attack and even tried to contact the cartoonist, she admitted in a 2011 guilty plea.
And terrorists from Somalia's al-Shabaab group specifically threatened Vilks in a recruiting video.
"And I say to Lars Vilks, that where you are, if not today or tomorrow, know that we haven't yet forgotten about you." Drawing his finger across his throat, a Swede who joined al-Shabaab named Abu Zaid threatened, "Know what awaits you, as it will be nothing but this, slaughter… and to my brothers and sisters, I call you to make Hijra [emigrate] Inshallah, and if you can, kill this dog Lars Vilks. Then you will receive a great reward from Allah."