While D.C. Downplays Risk, U.S. Sees Shocking Rise in Terror Arrests This Year
The arrest of two southern California men last week who were planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State brings the number of U.S.-based individuals involved in international terror-related cases this year to 40. (UPDATE: with the arrest of Houston-area Asher Abid Khan late Monday for supporting ISIS, the tally is now 41.)
This number highlights the metastasizing Islamic terror threat in the American homeland. At the current pace, by the end of June -- halfway through 2015 -- the number of cases will exceed the number from the past two years combined (48).
The Islamic State, as well as al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamic terror groups, have repeatedly called for supporters to conduct attacks inside the American homeland:
- After the U.S. began bombing ISIS targets last September, the group called for attacks in response.
- Just days after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January, a call for attacks targeting "intelligence officers, police officers, soldiers and civilians" was re-released.
- In March, the group released a "kill list" including the names, photos, and addresses of U.S. military personnel.
- This month, after the attempted terror attack in Garland, Texas, they claimed to have 71 trained operatives located in 15 American cities.
Recent evidence gives cause for concern. As I noted here at PJ Media, FBI Director Comey downplayed the number of Americans who had traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS and other terror groups before the midterm elections. He stated on 60 Minutes that "roughly a dozen" were fighting in Syria. But in February, senior officials corrected that number. They admitted that 180 had traveled to Syria. They also admitted that 40 had returned to the U.S. and posed a potential threat. FBI Director Comey then said they were investigating ISIS suspects in all 50 states.
Underscoring the failure to alert the public regarding the threat, concerned citizens have not been able to find a list of the 40 individuals arrested this year. Until now, a public list simply didn't exist.
Here they are: the 40 U.S.-based individuals charged in Islamic terror-related cases in 2015.
(This list will undoubtedly grow. I will update with new information as it becomes available.)
May 22: Muhanad Badawi, 24, and Nader Elhuzayel, 24, both of Anaheim, California, were arrested on Thursday for planning to travel to join ISIS. Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International airport trying to board a flight that included a stopover in Istanbul, presumably where he would have left the flight and tried to cross the Turkey/Syria border. Both were active on social media praising ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
May 14: Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, Texas, an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen who migrated to the United States in 2009, was arrested for lying to the FBI about his travel to Syria, where he planned to fight against the Assad regime. In March 2013 he was prevented from boarding a flight at Dallas Fort Worth International airport and was questioned by the FBI. The following month he transited to Mexico and flew to Turkey, returning in September 2013, when he was questioned again by the FBI. A July 2014 search of his computer found a pledge of allegiance to Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
May 3: Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Soofi, 37, both of Phoenix, Arizona, were killed in a gunfight with law enforcement outside a Garland, Texas community center where a "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest was being held. As I noted here at PJ Media, Simpson had been communicating with known ISIS operatives on Twitter, and had been known to the FBI since 2006 due to his association with convicted terror operative Hassan Abu Jihaad. Soofi grew up in Pakistan and moved to the U.S. as a teenager. The pair attended a Phoenix mosque with previous terror connections. (PJ Media live blog.)
April 23: Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, 24, of San Diego, California, was arrested on charges of lying to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI about his travels to Syria. As I reported here at PJ Media, Kodaimati was caught in a series of lies related to his work on behalf of a sharia court operated by Jabhat al-Nusra -- al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria and a U.S. designated terrorist organization -- and also about his role in mediating between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS in northern Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 19: Six men from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota were arrested in Minneapolis and San Diego for conspiracy and material support for terrorism for their plans to travel to join ISIS. Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19, Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19, Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, and Guled Ali Omar, 20, had been planning to travel to Syria for more than 10 months, and continued their plan even after several of their associates had been arrested. On May 19, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment with additional charges, including a previously arrested associate. It also stated that one of the men, Abdirahman Yasin Daud, had threatened to kill FBI agents if they tried to stop him. As I reported here at PJ Media, the federal judge in the case has said that he is considering releasing some or all of the men to a halfway house to participate in a local "deradicalization" program. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 24: Related to the previous case, an associate of the defendants, Mahamed Abukar Said, 19, was arrested for threatening to kill the U.S. attorney general, warning of a "massacre" if the Feds didn't release his friends, and intimidating an informant in the case on Twitter.
April 10: John T. Booker (aka Muhammad Abdullah Hassan), 20, of Topeka, Kansas was arrested in a plot to detonate a car bomb targeting soldiers at the U.S. Army base at Fort Riley. As I reported here at PJ Media, in April 2014 the FBI publicly dismissed Booker as a terror threat after Fox News published an alert by military authorities warning that Booker intended to conduct an attack on U.S. military personnel. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 10: Related to the Booker case, Alexander E. Blair, 28, also of Topeka, Kansas, was charged with failing to report a felony for not informing authorities of Booker's plans when he had advance knowledge of the plot. The FBI alleged that Blair, who shared Booker's Islamic extremist views, had loaned Booker money to rent a storage unit to store bomb components. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 9: Joshua Van Haften, 34, of Madison, Wisconsin, was charged with trying to provide material support to ISIS by traveling to Syria to join the terror group. He was arrested by Turkish immigration officials in October, and arrested upon his return at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 4: Miguel Moran Diaz (aka Azizi al-Hariri), 46, of Miami, Florida was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the federal complaint, Diaz was an ISIS supporter who described himself as a "lone wolf" who intended to kill people and engrave the bullet shell casings so that law enforcement would "know there was a sniper in town." (Complaint.)
April 3: Keonna Thomas (aka Fatayat Al Khilafah), 30, of Philadephia, Pennsylvania was arrested for planning to travel to Syria and martyr herself for ISIS. Thomas had applied for a passport and purchased an electronic visa for Turkey. Prosecutors claimed that she had been voicing support for ISIS on social media since at least August 2013. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 2: Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 29, originally from Texas, was returned from Pakistan and charged with recruiting others to kill U.S. military personnel. Leaving for Pakistan from Canada in 2007 and serving in a senior position within al-Qaeda, the Obama administration had discussed using a drone to kill Al-Farekh. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)
April 2: Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of Queens, New York, were arrested for plotting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction, and even discussed targeting a police funeral. When they were arrested, authorities found bomb-building materials including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, pipes, a pressure cooker, and fertilizer. The pair had previously been roommates, and Siddiqui had been in regular contact with al-Qaeda officials in Yemen, most notably with U.S. al-Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan. In 2009, one of her poems was published in al-Qaeda's Inspire magazine. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
March 26: Hasan Rasheed Edmonds, 22, of Aurora, Illinois -- a U.S. Army National Guard specialist --was arrested at Chicago's Midway airport on a trip with the eventual destination of Syria to join ISIS. Also arrested was his cousin, Jonas "Yunus" Edmonds, 29, also of Aurora, Illinois, who was charged with planning a terror attack on an Illinois National Guard facility with AK-47s and grenades. He intended to use Hasan's uniform to enter the facility after his departure. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)
March 18: Tairod Pugh, 47, of Neptune, New Jersey, was charged with material support for a terrorist organization following his attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIS. In January, he flew to Turkey from Egypt, but was sent back by Turkish authorities. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Pugh had expressed on his Facebook page and elsewhere his dislike for America and his allegiance to the jihadi cause. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 27: An unnamed 17-year-old from Woodbridge, Virginia was arrested and charged with assisting others trying to join ISIS. As the suspect is a juvenile, the indictment is sealed. However, federal prosecutors have said they intend to charge him as an adult. The teen reportedly wrote for several websites, and published articles in defense of slavery in Islam.
February 24: Three men living in Brooklyn, New York, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30, were arrested for planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Juraboev and Habibov are from Uzbekistan, and Saidakhmetov is from Kazakhistan. Two other individuals -- one in Brooklyn, the other in Norfolk, Virginia -- were arrested on immigration charges related to the case. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 11: An unnamed 16-year-old inspired by ISIS was arrested in York, South Carolina on gun charges. Prosecutors claimed that the teen conspired with another unnamed North Carolina resident to rob a Raleigh gun store, and then use the weapons to shoot up a U.S. military base. In April, he was sentenced to serve five years in juvenile prison until he is 21. Because of the suspect's age and the lack of a state terrorism statute, he could only be charged with weapons-related offenses. His accomplice in North Carolina has not been named or apparently charged. Local officials claimed they kept the case quiet for "public safety" concerns.
February 6: Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis, Missouri, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34, of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois -- all Bosnian immigrants -- were indicted following a two-year investigation for funneling money, guns, and military hardware to ISIS operatives in Syria. Their support included aiding Abdullah Ramo Pazara, also of St. Louis, who traveled to Syria in 2013 just months after becoming a U.S. citizen, and became a top deputy to ISIS commander Omar al-Shishani and was reportedly killed last year. Rosic was arrested on his way to Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 5: Hamza Ahmed, 19, of Minneapolis, Minnesota was charged with lying to the FBI after being stopped from boarding a flight in New York intending to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Ahmed was part of a group of four men who traveled by bus to New York in November. He denied knowing the men he traveled with in an interview with FBI agents. Ahmed had been active on Twitter supporting ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, which kept him in jail following his arrest. Earlier this month, he was charged in a superseding indictment in the case of six other Minneapolis men who were planning to join ISIS. He and another suspect are charged with fraud for using federal student loans to finance their trip. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 2: Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 26, of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested on state terror charges for traveling to Syria and fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate. In April, Mohamud was indicted on federal charges for plotting terror attacks in the U.S. targeting military and police officials. His brother was reported killed fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra in June 2014. Mohamud reportedly had been conducting weapons training with others after his return from Syria at a local Ohio gun range. As I noted here at PJ Media, he applied for his passport to travel to Syria just a week after becoming a U.S. citizen and days after being caught lying to the FBI. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
January 14: Christopher Lee Cornell (aka Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah), 20, of Green Township, Ohio, was arrested leaving a Cincinnati-area gun store, where he had purchased two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition. Federal prosecutors allege that Cornell planned to set off pipe bombs around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and then to shoot fleeing government workers. During a jailhouse interview with a local TV station, Cornell said that he would have also attacked the Israeli embassy and put a gun to President Obama's head. Earlier this month he was also charged with material support for ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
As the Heritage Foundation notes, since 9/11 there have been 68 Islamic domestic terror plots; 57 involved homegrown operatives.
The attempted terror attack this month in Garland, Texas was only averted due to luck and the work of local law enforcement authorities who took the potential threat seriously.
With the number of homegrown Islamic terror operatives increasing rapidly and the calls by Islamic terror groups overseas for attacks on the American homeland coming more regularly, it seems to be only a matter of time before we see another successful attack on American soil in the manner of the Boston bombing, the Fort Hood massacre, and the Little Rock Army recruiting center killing. Or perhaps a larger scale attack, as in Mumbai in November 2008.
When that future attack happens, it will come at a time when the credibility of our counter-terrorism and national security apparatus in speaking honestly about the nature and scope of the threat is at its lowest.
If the jihadist terror attacks in the West over the past year are any indicator, the next domestic terror attack will most likely be by what I have termed a "known wolf" -- someone who is already known to law enforcement authorities.
It's only a question of who, where, and when, and of how many Americans will die.