Six Minnesotans Held in Plot to Join ISIS

On Monday, federal officials, announcing their biggest Islamic State recruitment case to date, said there was, in fact, no recruiting mastermind. Instead, for the six men arrested, there was just the camaraderie of sharing an illicit ideology, plus advice and inspiration by phone and Internet from one of their friends, a young Minneapolis man who joined the Islamic State last year. All of those charged were Somali-Americans ages 19 to 21 from Minneapolis, where four were arrested on Sunday.

The F.B.I. is increasingly concerned about this model of radicalization by peers. The number of Islamic State recruits from the United States remains small in comparison with Western Europe, where more than 3,000 people are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the group. But law enforcement and intelligence officials have tried to disrupt the travel in part because they were concerned that Americans could train with the Islamic State and then return to the United States to carry out attacks.

Teenager accused of grooming vulnerable man in Lee Rigby-style plot

A teenage would-be terrorist “ruthlessly exploited” an impressionable young man in a plot to carry out a Lee Rigby copycat killing, a court has heard.

Kazi Islam, 18, is accused of grooming 19-year-old Harry Thomas with a combination of “flattery and threats” to buy the ingredients for a pipe bomb and to attack one or more soldiers with a knife.

 

A series of exchanges on BlackBerry Messenger and social media sites were uncovered when police raided the house in east London where Islam lived with his family, jurors were told. Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC said Islam had befriended Thomas in October 2013 by pretending to sympathise with him over a break-up with a girlfriend. He went on to incite Thomas to kill a soldier with stories of innocent children being murdered by military forces and even suggested he start calling himself Haroon rather than Harry. Islam denies the charges.

#Nietmijnislam faces difficulties finding place for meeting

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks an online initiative called #nietmijnislam (#notmyislam) arose spontaneously. The group distances itself from extremist Islam and favours dialogue, but found it really difficult to find a place for their first gathering in real life.

Acccording to one of the initiators Mostafa Hilali one of mentioned reasons for a organization in The Hague to annul the appointment was ‘controversial persons’ being related to #nietmijnislam. Their source was GeenStijl (a website known for its’ inflammatory and sarcastic way of bringing ‘news’, without taking political correctness and journalistic principles into serious consideration). Later on the organization denied the reason being a fear for radical Muslims and explained that Hilali was spoken to by someone who was no part of the decision process. Another argument is that safety cannot be guaranteed.

Lodewijk Asscher, minister Social Affairs, regrets the difficulties #nietmijnislam faces, stating that an initiative like #nietmijnislam is just what is needed in a time wherein a lot of people are afraid of terrorism. Asscher emphasizes the importance of an ongoing dialogue on religion and tensions in the rest of the world.

In the end #nietmijnislam was able to arrange a meeting with help of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Work.

Hackers black out French TV5, hijack websites to back Islamic State

The hackers briefly cut transmission of 11 channels belonging to TV5 Monde and took over its websites and social media accounts. The message on the TV5 Monde website read in part “I am IS” with a banner by a group that called itself Cybercaliphate.

The Islamic extremist group has claimed complex hackings before but the seizure of the French network appeared to be a new step in its information warfare tactics.

Both the website and social media accounts were hacked and warnings posted against French participation in air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. All 11 channels went black for three hours until prerecorded programming was directed to fill viewers’ blank screens, said TV5 Monde Director General Yves Bigot.

“For the moment, we are unable to produce our own programs,” Bigot told France-24 television, calling the attack “unprecedented in the history of television.” He said one television channel had been restored but it would be hours, possibly even days, before the entire network was again functional due to the need to scour the systems for residual infection.

The hackers also temporarily controlled TV5’s Facebook page and other social media accounts. For two hours before the network recovered those sites, an image of a masked militant filled the page under the title “Cybercaliphate.”

Another post warned that French President Francois Hollande committed “an unforgivable mistake” by joining Western forces in attacking Islamic State,  adding that the offensive is  “a war that serves no purpose.”

Imams try to ‘reclaim the internet’ with Haqiqah magazine

Haqiqah – “the truth” or “the reality” – is a new online magazine launched with the aim of “reclaiming the internet” from extremists. It has been created by British Muslim scholars who say they want to do more to educate young people about the reality of extremist movements. They say it is a direct response to the threat of radicalisation from groups such as Islamic State.

IS extremists have widely used social media to spread their message.

More than 100 imams gathered in London for the launch of the magazine, which has been started by the website Imams Online. ‘We will eventually drown out the violent voices’ says Shaukat Warraich, Chief editor, Imamsonline.com.

“Someone has to reclaim that territory from ISIS, and that can only be imams: religious leaders who guide and nourish their community,” according to Qari Asim, senior editor at imamsonline.com. “But now that we live in a digital mobile world, some young people are not coming to the mosque so we must reach out to them – and this is the Muslims’ contribution to combat radicalisation on the net,” he said. He termed the magazine a call to all Muslims to “log on, get informed, and share the magazine with all your friends and family online”.

British Islamic State fighter ‘calls for Muslims to kill Theresa May’

A British Islamic State fighter has called on Muslims in the UK to “hunt down” and “kill” Theresa May in a Lee Rigby-style terrorist attack. The militant, who is thought to have fled to Syria while on bail, said the Home Secretary must be run over, tied to the back of a car and dragged through the streets of London.

The chilling threats have been posted on Twitter by Abu Abdullah Britani – believed to be Abu Rahin Aziz, a former credit control operator from Luton.

The 32-year-old, who has links to hate preacher Anjem Choudary, had been handed a 36-week jail sentence for stabbing a football fan in London. Messages on the Britani account also call for other politicians to be targeted, adding that they will be easy to find because they will be out campaigning for the General Election. Britani has even posted some of the newly-leaked names and address of American soldiers. The tweets follow Mrs May’s plea for law-abiding Britons to expose extremists in their communities.

France tries man for trying to help girl join ISIL

Riad Ben Cheikh is accused of aiding a 14-year-old runaway girl trying to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by arranging her travel. He is currently on trial on terrorism charges. The girl made contact with an ISIL recruiter using Facebook and he convinced her to join him in Syria after promising to marry her and teach her to fight. Ben Cheikh reportedly booked a hotel and paid for her transportation to the airport where she was detained while trying to board a flight to Istanbul.

France has increased its surveillance and crackdown on ISIL and Al-Qaeda supporters since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. European countries have struggled to manage an increase in its residents traveling to the Middle East to become foreign fighters.

Jihadist Video Threatening French “massacres”

In an online video called “Message of the Mujahid” (Message of the Fighter), the Islamic State continued to call for attacks against the members of the coalition conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

 

This time the threat comes from a Frenchmen who presents himself as a jihadist. The video has yet to be authenticated by French authorities and the Minister of the Interior refused to comment. However Romain Caillet, a research specialist on Islamists, revealed that this jihadist has previously appeased in a video documenting the life of foreign fighters in Raqa, Iraq.

 

In the recent video the man speaks in a heavy Southern France accent and addresses France and its government, “We are going to give a message to France regarding the strikes in Iraq and Syria. We have warned you, you are at war against the Islamic State. We are people whose victory is assured by God,” he declared.

 

“Look what’s happened throughout the world, they have gathered against us. Why? Because we defend Islam and we want to enforce the law of Allah. We defend the blood of Muslims. They have gathered against us to kill us. It’s not us who are criminals (sic), it’s the cowards who drop bombs from the sky…We will take revenge for all the brothers you have killed…You think you’re safe…Whether in France or in all countries…We will appeal to all the brothers living in France to kill any civilian…You will never be safe. You will regret it,” he repeated.

 

The second part of the message is in Arabic. This is the second time that France has been directly threatened by the Islamic State after the kidnapping and assassination of Hervé Gourdel.

 

Toy Gun Affair With Images of Islam, Auchan Apologizes

A toy gun sold in the French supermarket Auchan has sparked debate. The gun features a logo that resembles a star and a crescent moon, symbols generally associated with Islam or Muslim-majority countries.

The toy gun was sold for one euro and was reportedly distributed in the Paris area. The gun resembles an AK-47. Numerous Internet users tweeted their outrage, prompting the distributor to promise to remove the product from store shelves.

French supermarket Auchan apologizes to customers after marketing a toy AK-47 with a crescent moon and star, symbols associated with Islam. (Image from Auchan circular)
French supermarket Auchan apologizes to customers after marketing a toy AK-47 with a crescent moon and star, symbols associated with Islam. (Image from Auchan circular)

Video: Frenchman suspected of taking children to fight jihad

A French woman has reported that her 3-year-old daughter, Jana, was kidnapped by her father and taken to Syria to fight alongside jihadists. The girl’s mother suspects that her ex partner Eddy Leroux and his new girlfriend Jihane took her daughter. She expected Jana home in August and filed a report after she received no contact from Leroux.

Friends of Eddy and Jihane report that the couple has become increasingly radicalized in the last few months, “with one daughter no longer allowed to dance or swim.”

“There is a real danger,” said Prime Minister Manuel Valls. “It is the greatest threat we have faced for decades. It is a threat to our interests and our citizens.”

European countries, especially France, are worried that radicals within their territories will leave to fight in Syria and return to “launch attacks at home.” The French government is expected this week to propose new legislation that will prevent “aspiring jihadists” from leaving French territory.

The government has already instituted anti-terrorist measures in April which include monitoring of “Islamist websites” and can extend as far as revoking French nationality. A hotline was also started so that friends and family of suspected jihadists can call and report if their friend or family member is travelling abroad.