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MIAC Report: American Radical Islamic Converts

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  • 8/14/2019 MIAC Report: American Radical Islamic Converts


    Matt Blunt Mark S. James James F. Keathley Van GodseyDircclot, DPS Colonel, MSHP Dircctor, MlAc

    MiAC ALERTNovember 4,2008AMERICAN R,ADICAL ISLAMIC CONVERTS (ARtrCS)l(note: much of this irfornatjon has beeil excerpled from a U.S. Depatunenl of HoDleland documeDl thalis UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY/LAW ENFORCEMENT SENSITIVE)Arrerican Radical Islamic Conveil (ARIC) js a new term that the U.S. Deparhnent ol llomeland Secu-rit), ir usino to descr'be a loose knit group of militant Muslim converts olemtirg throughoul the UnitedStates and probably Missouri. Other countries also host individuals that shde the same or similar ide-ologies.ARICs are potentially violert because they believe in a radical form of ls1am called Salafism, aud be-cause they believe government and society are hostile to them or their beliefs. They adopt militantlslamism for a variety ofreasons, but generally harbor many of the same resentments towad the UnitedShtes as t}eir Muslim-bom counterpails based on:- U.S. foreign poticy in the Mjddle Easl, especially the Imq and AfghanistcD wrrs.- U.S. support for Israel.'U.S. suppoil for authodtarian regimes in Arab and Muslim couDtries that they view as

    rcpressive and corupt.Many ARICs consider their opposiiion to be part of a justifled defense of lslam, and tend to direct theiranger toward 1oca1 symbols of authorit), and American power, including 1aw enforcement agencies, mili-tary bases, and other institutions they perceive as being oppressive to Muslims.ARICS are not a unified grcup with a strategic set of goa1s, and usually do nol have regular meetirgtimes or places. However, they may meet wilh and share the ob.iectives of the imDediate communily,netwolt, mosque, or gang lo which they belong; often adopting tbe politics and cause of whomever in-troduced them to Isiam or of the militants with whorn the)' interact.ARICs typically share a number of comnon characteristics, including:

    - They are generall), men but may inciude women and even children, especialll'teenag9$.

    - Tlrey are usually in their twenties or early thirlies.- Most ARICs have criminal hislodes, but a numbet ate "notmal" college oruniversity students.- Many have received trainiDg in the rnaflial arLs and in the use of firearms.- Most have advanced sldlls in computers and inlonnatjot lechnology- Many have served in the U.S. militarl'.- Some have aligned themselves with al-Qaeda or other intematjollal Islamist militanl

    organizalions, or expressed supPofl for theil violent pirilosophiesWhile il is important to understand the threal Potential posed by ARICs, it is also importanl to keep inmind the differences between ARICS and tltose Arnericans who converl to Islam in a ge:ruine belief tbat


  • 8/14/2019 MIAC Report: American Radical Islamic Converts


    it will betrer their']ives. ARICs represent a ninorjly among AlnericaD Muslin converts iD lbe UniledStates.

    Groups with a kuown Missouri presence or having Missouri meflbers. and ill which some membershave aclopted a violent or sal^fist ideology are:Neu, Black Panther ParlyNation oflslamUnited Nuwaubian Nation oI Moo$Nrtioial Blacl Uniled FrontVoorrsh Scien.e Temple of Alner.cl

    Jarnaat al-Fuqra ( aka. Muslims of the Anericas)IdeologyWhiie they rnay nol have a single i.leology, Dany adhele to a militanl Sdafi variant of Sunni Islam.Salafism is a fun.lalnentalisl outlook thal shesses stl-iltgent personal, social. and religious purification,and is believed to emulate whal foilowers inleryret to be the early example of the Prophet MohammedSalafis rejecr westem ideologies such as capilalism and social iustice. ancl have a lileral belief of theQuran and hadlth (sayings ol the Prophel). They advocate recreation of the golden age of the first fourdescendants of the Prophet, restoration of the caliphate (lslamic governnenl that leads aid unites theMuslim world), and creation of a stale governed by theil radical interpretatiou of sharia (Islamic law)These ilgid views appeal to those who believe in a radical form ofjihad, and a violent rcstoration of thecaliphate. The Madrid tmin bombings in 2004 and the London tenor atlacks in 2005 werc cailied out byconvefis to this type of extremism.Typicaliy, ARICS are not Muslim by bfth, but are U S citizens. legal U S residents' or illegal imrnj-grants who have embracecl salafism. The Srealest majorit)' ofARICs are African Americans' $'ith cau-casians and Hispanics makng up the remainder. Salafism is also attractlve lo those who are seeldng away out of personal crisis or lrying to overcome problems such as drug or alcohol abuse.African Americans in particular are drawn to Islam's notjon of spiritual "leversjon, " since it may confera sense of Doral superiority as well as spirituai empowermeDt. As the descelldants of slaves flom pafisofMuslim west Africa who adopted the chdstiail beliefs of thgir owners, many Aflican Amelicans to-day regard reverting to Islam to be an assertio! of their ethnic and cuhural ideDtit), as well as a symbolicbreak irom the legacy of slaver)' These lactors may explain wh1' 6any mnlastream African-AmericanMuslim convefis, as well as many African-Amerjcan ARICs, also ideiltjfy with activisi Sroups such asthe Neq, Black Pantber Party, the NalioD oI Islam, etcRecruitmentTypical avenues utilized by Americans to convert to radical lslam are pdsons' mosques and studentMuslim community cenlers, and the Intenet.Prisons can serye to connect militant lslam atrd crirniiality. The harsh pdson enviaonnrenl is conducjveto religious convercion, and tencls to have a profound influence in shqping aD extremisl outlook and tlleadopritn of miijtancl', q41ile the preachiilg of u'hal js linou'n as "Prison Islau" disLorts I(orailc teachingand prornoles vidence ancl gang loyallJ'. A close-kni1 community and sense olbrotherhood amoDg Mus-lim prisoners also provjdes a sense of secuilt)' and support-as well as much needed protection fromprison gangs-Ior those who ma)'feel vulnerable lD additioD, Muslirn pdsoners often develop Detwotkslhar contil'ue {o.uppon lormel inmile\.


  • 8/14/2019 MIAC Report: American Radical Islamic Converts


    Prison mdicalization prilnadly occurs through anti U.S. sermons provided b)' contracl, \'olunleer, orstall imans, radlcalized inmates who gair religious iDfluence, and extrernisl medlaJam iyyat Ul-lslam As Sqheeh (JIS), an IslaDic leroljst grouP u'as slailed in 1 997 in zr Czrlifornla prisorbl, I(evin lames. James and three other JIS Drelrbers plotted 10 boDb U S govemmcnt and nilitary [acilities, and Israeli institutions in the Los Angeles area in the fall ol 2005. ln an effort to convert itscrirninal behavior into a foiln of service to ils radical lsiamisl ageDda: its nembers also robbed 1 1 gasslatiois in the Los Angeles area ir furtherance ol "the duty of JIS menbers to lalget for violent atlackany enemies of lslam."JaDes also authored a maniiesto known as the "JIS Protocol" as weil as other malerial thar outiines thegroup's ideological stance aild provides taclical and operational dilectjon, to its rnembers inside aDd oLil-srde ofprison. The docurnents, which contain lengthy criticism ofthe United Stales, call on JIS's fol-lowers to wage vlolentjihad against what James calls the "enemies" oflslam, or nonbelievers (jnfidels),including the United States. Moreover, according to local security officiaJs. JIS members were oon-Dected to a wider militant cuiture within the Califomia pdson syslem.Jose Padilh, a 37 year old lllspanic u,ith a history ofpetty cljme and tjes b s[cet gangs. v"as rmpris-oned iI 2002 by U.S. authorities in Chicago on terodsrn charges rclated to his alleged association withtenorist groups both in the United Stales and abroad. He convefied to Islam after serving time in theFlorida's Broward Counq, jail in I 992, aDd is bellcved to have been radicaiized before allegedly plottiDgto delonate .i dirl), bombRichard Reid (the shoe bomber tvho failed) is thought lo have been radjcalized ir a British prisonDuring the sentencing hearing he openly stated that he was an lslamic fundamentalist and declaredhimself an enemy of Uniled States aod was a foilower of Osama bin Laden and A]-QaedaBased on a rccetrl estimates, numbers of islamic prisoners and parolees in Missouri range from I 4.000to almost I 7.000, ancl while the exlenl oI radicalization or conversiot to ! Sllafi folm of Islam is un-)ilown- the potential 1'or our prisonr kl produoe ARiCs is a matler of coDcernMoEques, Colleges and Utriversitl' Campuses are another avenue for the production of ARICs. Whiletbe majodty of Amgdcan mosques aDd lslamic studies centers do not fostel oI espouse radical lslamism,therc are mosques and Islamic studies canters whose imams have prornoted reli.rious and political mili-taDcy and the virrues of violence ir ciosed circles, if not openly Such imams likely count on a gtoup ofdedjcated followerc 10 whom they can espouse their radical teachings iil the moi controlled enviion-menl of study groups or other social settings. WithiD these environments, cleics and other charismaticradicals are best able to influence convefts.

    Mosques and Study Centers arc important places u'here radical eleme11ts can atlractconverls and iDlroduce them to theil militant agendas. Although ladical preachers are oftenhjghlighte.i for $eir lole in inspiring militancy, aspiring militants do nol need to lool( toextremisl clerics for support. lll this sense, mosclues serve as social venues where militantscan meet regularly and develop close bonds, often ln netwod(s completel)'separate fromclerics and other worshippers. This is the case even in mainstreaD Muslim mosques, slncemdicals may attend such a mosque desplte its naiusleam outlookOne expeil, however, beiieves the potential for radicalization in American mosques is serious A De-cember 2005 issue of the Jerusalem Posl, references a statement by Yehudil Barsfty, Director oI the


  • 8/14/2019 MIAC Report: American Radical Islamic Converts


    American Jewish Committee's Djvjsion on Middle Easl an.l Internalional Teflorisln Ms Barsky saidover 80 percent oI the nosques in the unitecl states "have been ]'aclicttlizerl b), SaudJ money and urflu-ence.",In 1989. The Islamic Anerican ReliefAgeDcy was direcll)' lirlked to Al Qaeda teraodsl Zayid Khalilq,ho was a fun.lraiser Ior the 1ARA while a stu.lent and direclor of the MLrslim s[dent Association alcolLrrnbiii utrjveNity in Missouil. I(halil was accuseil olpurchasing the cell pholes, which wele used b)'Osama Bin Laden issue the directive to Peryetrate the I 998 simuitaneous bornbirlgs of the US embassyin Kenya and Nairobi. A statemenl issued b)' John Snow, tile Secretar)' of the TreasLlry s^ys' "the inter-natioi;l offices oI IARA were providing direcr finanoial supporl to Usama bin Ladel, a] Qaeda, Hamasand other telTorisl grouPs.'

    Internet, The Inteoet is also a venue for the radicalizalion of young, computer-sa\/vy Westemers-both male and female-s,ho identify with an lsiamic extremist ideology. Also the oldel genelation ofsupporters and sympathizers of vjolenl Isl4mic extrcmism, in the post.9/ I I eDVi ronment of increasedlaw-enforcement sciuiiny, have begun to use the Intenet for radicaiization, recruitmenl, and materialsuppoit activiries.The Intemet allows participants to actively engage in exchaDging extremist propaganda aDd rhetoriconiine, which may facilitaG the violelt tslamic extlemist cause. These online activities fultber ARIC in-doctrilation, create links between extremists located around tbe wolld, serve as spdngboards for futuleteraorlst activities, aDd as ARIC recruitmentchannels.

    Many Muslims, ilcluding ARICS, believe the colcept of violent struggle or jihad is justified ard evenpart of the duty of their adopted faith ARlCs also may view Vjolenl jihad as an idealistic adventureihrough whicir they can $uppofl those they perceive to be oppressed b)' the United States ln some cases'this concept appears to have been a key-modv4ting faclor in tlleir decision to convefl to IslamEviclence exists that a1-Qaeda and ollter internatjonal terrodst olganizations are influencing the ARICcomDurity. Itr a May 5, 2007, videotape, Dr' Ayman d Zawal'ij tried to recruil Aftican-AmericanMuslims and othem in the United States b)'comParing Malcolm X, and the Anerican civil rigbtsmovemert to al-Qaeda's struggle. A1-Zawahiri portrayed ir1-Qaeda as a movemeDt dliven by social in-justice ancl as an anti-imperlalist force thal is intenl on assisting "al1 the weak and oPpressed in NorthAmerica aDd Soutlt Ameilca, ir Africa, and Asia, ard all over the world "


  • 8/14/2019 MIAC Report: American Radical Islamic Converts


    Tbe M usljrn concepl ol "CovenaDl of Securjty," js an Islatric belief that dissuadcs followersfrontactsoIviolenceagajnstthegoverrnnenLolthelrhonlelald,andprobablyilflrrenoesARICs Thistheor),stales thal a coverarll exists belween a hosl governnenl and Muslims who:I locntil) Ihcrnselves ir. Mu\l nl..

    2) Maintain official Westeo torns of identificatlon1. Ar';cpt tovernnrenl hc'relits.4) Legall), enter the host country.

    As long as Musilms follos, these four practices. the llosl Sovernnent musl Suaranlee theil ilght 1o livewjthout fear oI anesl and lo practice thejl teligion. UDder this covenant, Muslins are prohibiled fromwaging vlolent jibad 4gainsl their hosts. However. ARICs and other radjc4l MIslilns may believe lhecovenanl has beeD breached by the U.S. Govennenl because 01 the PATRIOT Act and otiler domesticcounteilefforism initiatives.Objectives and StrategYARICS likely base their largeting decisions on the prospect of infljcting mass casualties ln this regard,the), may emplo), sone of the largeting patterns exhibiled b)' inlernatioial lerorjst organizalions, suchas al-Qaeda. This 1s a rnatler ol concarn because of al-Qaeda s abillty Lo inspire like{incled radicalswith no dircct links to its organizatjon to act in thef hone countries. However, curenl indications arethal ARICS are hampered b), iimited tlainlilg, resources, and finance ald thus are more likely to plan andattempt modest atlacks that lie withiil tbeil operational capability. Aocordingl)', their targets ma)'inciudebusy venues such as schools or mass transit facilities, which offer easy access to prospecllve targets aswell as to targets of symbolic significance, or they may perpetrate acts of violence against individualswho are perceived as enemjes or ivals. Theii abiljty to legitimately gain access to secure locations suchas airports or govemmeDt faciljties may aiso influence their choice of targets


    ARICS are not centered in one particular geograpiic location ol region ii the Unjted States, and it is ex'tremeiy difficult to ascefiain their strength. Since most ARICS are Ameilcan citizens or legai U S. rcsjdeDts, their presetce is diflicult to pinpojnt. Evidence indicates that ARIC acti !j t) can occur in lr ajorurbar centers, in rural towns or regionally.Trainine While ther.e is evjdence to suggesl thal some ARICS undelwent miljtar)' n ajning in camps inAfghanistan and other regiois during the I 990s, given incleased secudty awaleDess since 9/l I ald morestrjct tncking measul.es, it is likel)'that ARlcs are morc careful regarding theil lavel patlerns aDd othelactivities that may raise suspjcions.ARICs have been involveci in small-scale training sessions conducLed inside the UDited States. Thesesessions rypically inVolve groups of mer venturinS into secluded rural areas fol o\rellight camping tripsto undeilake exercises such as paintbali conpetitions that simulate baltlefield scenarios. These sessionsmay also seNe to cultjvate a sense of camararJerie and purpose amoDg radicals, especialiy ir anticipationof perpetraling aD attack.ARICs are also likeJy to prize the physical fimess promoted by extremists or Al Qaeda related trainingmanuals; accordingly, they are involved in martial arts and linless trailling Moreover, ARICS are ljkelyto tap open-source literature, such as weste0 militar), and lav, etforcement field and traitring nanuaisailcl other material for information on fireams, laclics, explosives, etc.

  • 8/14/2019 MIAC Report: American Radical Islamic Converts


    ThreatsCuraeni trends suggest thal ARICS will coillinue b pose a threat. The conlljcls it ijztcl aod Afghanistanand the failure ofradical lslaDjsts to topple regines in the Arab arld l\4uslim world thal are closell'aligDed to the United States and the Wesl arc luelirg a feelinS lor revenge againsl the United SlatesThese sentirnenls 4re likel),1o coDtinue to irlfluence the oullook ofARICSAlso, a successful att.lck against the urited states rctt4iDs I top pljorjty lor radical lslaDists, especjall),those who seelt inspiration fron Al-Qaeda. Siuce attackillg a lalget on U.S. soil is considered the uitj-DaLe achievemeDt, ARICS are likel)' lo continue to l'y to find wa1's lo attack the United StatesM&), ARICS continue to believe that the United States and the S/esl are engaged in a war againsl lslail,thus juslifyilg a vlolenl respolse in tbe rame of defendillg lslam However, as loDg as tlley have limjledresources ARICS M,ill likel),conduct business through local acts oI violence

    rAmerican Radical lslamic Convers (ARlCs) 27 ppU S. Depafrment ofHonelaDd SecurityHelios Global lnc.

    M6sswwm,M dm6wmmm&[email protected] @mmWsEs @@[email protected] of Drug & Crime Contol, P. O Box 568, Jetferson Ci1y, MO 651 02_0568Phone: 573-751 -6422 Toll Frce: 866-362-6422 Fax: 573-751-9950

    ,nd 'qntus, Mb'nn '@nbs, a d Dpzh*t at @bN arsfukrs arr, untuhl4adnE.nEJhJ'loBlfu'rrohldabndEdag'r.bshlhE1Me