Imam Arrested in Jamaica for ISIS Links

ISIS

Washington – A Muslim imam was arrested in Jamaica on Friday on charges of working with ISIS and recruiting members for the terrorist group. He was later indicted on the charges.

Imam Abdullah al-Faisal, 53, was arrested after cooperation between the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and security forces in Jamaica.

New York authorities will seek to have him extradited to face charges in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to a US law enforcement source.

Born Trevor William Forrest in St. James, Jamaica, Faisal was previously convicted in the United Kingdom in 2003 of soliciting murder and imprisoned. He was deported to Jamaica in 2007 after being released, reported Reuters.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Friday that Faisal used lectures, a website and videos to incite followers to join ISIS.

“A charismatic leader, the defendant’s rhetoric has been cited by several convicted or suspected terrorists in New York, London, and beyond,” Vance said in a statement.

Prosecutors said that beginning in December 2016, Faisal began communicating remotely from Jamaica with an undercover New York Police Department officer. He urged the officer to view ISIS propaganda materials online, and offered to help him travel to the Middle East to fight for the organization, prosecutors said.

NYPD members ultimately did travel to the Middle East, and once they arrived, Faisal put them in touch with a contact in Raqqa, Syria, according to prosecutors.

US Soldier Arrested for Purchasing Drone for ISIS

Kang

Washington – Nearly two months after the trial of an American soldier who had provided aid to ISIS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Honolulu announced the arrest of another for also helping the terrorist group.

Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang was taken into custody over the weekend after the 34-year-old veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan declared his loyalty to the terrorist group and exclaimed that he wanted to “kill a bunch of people,” according to authorities.

The detainee had also bought a drone in order to send it to ISIS extremists.

Kang was arrested in Hawaii where he was deployed at a military base, announced an FBI spokesman on Monday.

A 26-page affidavit from FBI agent Jimmy Chen filed in court Monday detailed how Kang thought he was dealing with people working for ISIS but who were actually undercover agents.

Kang and the agents together made combat training videos he believed would be taken to the Middle East to help prepare the group’s soldiers to fight American forces, according to the affidavit.

On Saturday, Kang and an undercover agent allegedly went shopping for a drone to give to ISIS extremists.

Kang said the drone would allow the fighters to view the battlefield from above “to find tank positions and avenues for escape” from US soldiers, the affidavit said. He used his debit card to pay nearly $1,400 for the drone, Go-Pro camera and related equipment. The agent paid him $700 to split the cost.

A trained air traffic controller based at Hawaii’s Wheeler Army Airfield, Kang had his military clearance revoked in 2012 for making pro-ISIS comments. His clearance was reinstated a year later after he completed military requirements.

However, the affidavit said, the army believed Kang was becoming radicalized in 2016 and asked the FBI to investigate.

The document also showed that Kan was sympathetic of Hitler and the American-Afghani, who shot and killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016.

Kang enlisted in the army in December 2001, just months after the Septemb11 11 attacks. He served in South Korea from 2002 to 2003. He deployed to Iraq from March 2010 to February 2011 and Afghanistan from July 2013 to April 2014.

He was scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a detention hearing.

In May, a New York federal court sentenced a US Air Forces veteran convicted of terrorism charges to 35 years in prison for attempting to join ISIS.

Tairod Pugh declared his innocence and condemned discrimination in the United States, saying: “My country has become scared and racist.”

“I am a black man. I am a soldier. I am a Muslim. I defended this nation and its constitution, but my service was met with abuse,” he said according to Reuters.

“My only regret is that it took me so long to realize that my country has grown scared and racist,” he added.

The judge had rejected his claims, saying that the case had nothing to do with race or religion.

“This isn’t about whether you’re a Muslim or a Christian or Jewish,” US District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis told Pugh, who’s 49. “This is about whether you’re going to stand up for your country.”

Pugh’s lawyer later said that he will appeal the ruling.

ISIS Member who Claimed Curiosity Tour Convicted in US

Washington- A jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, has convicted Mohamad Jamal Khweis of providing material support to ISIS.

Khweis, 27, claimed however that he traveled to Iraq and Syria to monitor the activities of the terrorist organization and not to fight alongside the group.

He took the unusual step of testifying on his own behalf at the trial, telling jurors he just wanted to see for himself what the militant group was like.

He faces a sentence of five years to life in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 13.

His lawyer said the facts he went to Syria and Iraq and got an ISIS membership card don’t automatically make him a terrorist.

Khweis was detained by Kurdish peshmerga forces in northern Iraq in March 2016 and turned over to US authorities.

Harrison Weinhold, 27, of Alexandria, told the Washington Post at the time that he attended Fairfax County’s Mark Twain Middle School with Khweis and that the two graduated from Edison High School in 2007. Weinhold said he instantly recognized Khweis in pictures and videos broadcast by news outlets.

“I’m like, ‘I can’t even comprehend what I’m looking at right now,’ ” Weinhold said. “It could not have been a more normal guy.”

Weinhold said Khweis is the soft-spoken son of a limo driver and a cosmetologist and was known to wear designer shoes. Although some people in the school were devout Muslims, Khweis was not one of them, Weinhold said.

The Associated Press also said at the time that Khweis told the Peshmerga forces that he had originally traveled through Turkey to reach ISIS-held territory.

He was carrying with him a large amount of cash and several forms of identification, including a driver’s license from Virginia.

According to court documents, after reaching Turkey last year, Khweis used social media accounts to reach out to people he thought could help smuggle him across the border to Syria.

Finally, in late December, he got the call: He should leave his hotel room and enter a waiting taxi if he wanted to join. He did, and was smuggled across the border.

At one point, he received text orders to get out of the car and alternately walk and run across the border territory, taking care to avoid land mines.

He was processed by ISIS during a short stay in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The processing was formal, with blood tests, intake forms, issuance of the ID card and on whether he was willing to serve as a suicide bomber.

During the next three months, he bounced among several safehouses in Syria and Iraq.

88 Years of Saudi-US Partnership

King

Washington – According to the US State Department, Washington recognized Saudi Arabia in 1931. Two years later, the countries signed a diplomatic and consular representation agreement.

In 1940, the first diplomatic ties between them were established after permanent diplomatic missions were sent to each country. Bert Fish was the first American diplomat dispatched to the Kingdom.

In 1942, the US mission was expanded in Jeddah and in 1949 the first embassy was set up there.

In 1984, the embassy was moved to Riyadh and the mission in Jeddah was turned into a consulate.

The diplomatic developments coincided with economic ones. In 1933, the California-Arabian Standard Oil (CASOC) company began searching for oil in eastern Saudi Arabia. The company was later renamed the Arabian American Oil Co. (Aramco).

The US government was not initially much interested in oil production, but the beginning of World War II changed this. In 1943, US President Franklin Roosevelt announced: “The defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States.”

On February 2, 1945, King Abdul Aziz al-Saud met Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy destroyer, marking an important turning point in the development of relations between the two countries. In addition to discussing political and economic issues, personal ties between the two leaders developed during that meeting.

King Abdul Aziz’s Illness

Evidence of this relationship was demonstrated during the king’s illness. In 1950, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia dispatched a message to the State Department, requesting medical assistance for his chronic arthritis.

The Department of Defense later sent military and medical experts to King Abdul Aziz. US President Harry Truman even sent his personal physician, Wallace Graham, to head this medical delegation.

Indeed, the king’s health gradually improved. He slowly began to rely less on his wheelchair and started to move with more ease.

King Saud

The Tripartite Aggression, launched by Britain, France and Israel, against Egypt in 1956 took place during the reign of King Saud. The three countries attacked Egypt after President Gamal Abdul Nasser ordered the naturalization of the Suez Canal. A year later, King Saud traveled to the United States, the first of its kind by a Saudi king, where he met President Dwight Eisenhower. He hailed the American leader’s opposition to the offensive and his pressure for the three countries to end it.

Eisenhower said in a message to King Saud that the United States will not remain silent over an Israeli aggression against an Arab country. He cited US intervention in halting the Tripartite Aggression, vowing to halt any similar attacks in the future.

King Faisal

The June 1967 War and the October War of 1973 erupted under the reign of King Faisal.

Egypt and Syria attacked Israel to regain their occupied land. They enjoyed the backing of Arab countries that stopped sending oil to the US and Europe in 1973. Egypt and Syria, and later Israel, each signed disengagement agreements. Arab countries then resumed oil shipments in 1974.

King Faisal had repeatedly demanded in his correspondence with US President Richard Nixon and during his meeting with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Israel withdraw from Arab land it had occupied in 1967.

King Khalid

King Khalid followed in the footsteps of his brother Faisal by repeatedly bringing up the issue of Israel with US officials. In 1975, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger threatened to occupy Saudi oil wells in wake of the increase in petroleum prices and tensions in the region that had been ongoing since 1973.

Kissinger sought to contain the backlash over Schlesinger’s statements by stressing that the American policy does not include threatening Arab friends. It instead relies on cooperation in spite of disputes.

King Abdullah

Perhaps the most important meeting between Saudi Arabia and the US took place between then Crown Prince Abdullah and President George W. Bush at his Crawford ranch in Texas in 2002 in wake of the September 11 attacks.

Prince Abdullah had “bluntly” demanded that Washington decrease its support to Israel or face dire consequence throughout the Arab world. He warned Bush that if the US does not exert more efforts to rein in the military campaign waged by then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon against Palestinians, the United States will lose more credibility in the Middle East and create more instability.

Adel al-Jubair, then foreign policy consultant to the crown prince, said after the meeting that the Israeli operations “do not serve American interests or Saudi ones.”

Bush later told reporters that his talks with the crown prince established strong personal ties and bolstered the friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

King Salman

Former US President Barack Obama met King Salman in 2012 and 2016 at a time when ties between the two sides were strained over the Iranian nuclear deal.

The telephone call King Salman received from President Donald Trump in late January played a major role in bolstering ties between the two countries.

They discussed the historic ties between them and regional and international developments.

They were in agreement over a number of issues, including the war against terrorism and extremism.

Jordanian in US Accused of Trying to Join ISIS

Washington- A Jordanian citizen living in the US State of Ohio has been indicted on a charge of attempting to travel to the Middle East and fight with ISIS, a month after his arrest at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky.

Prosecutors said 26-year-old Laith Waleed Alebbini is a legal permanent resident of the US and that he was attempting to fly to Turkey before joining up with ISIS jihadists.

If convicted, Alebbini faces up to 20 years in prison.

Court records say he was arrested in January for unlawful entry at the Turkish embassy in Washington, but those charges were later dropped.

Last week, the New York Daily News said that police had been closely monitoring him since he headed from Ohio to Washington to get a visit for Turkey.

They arrested him before boarding a plane from Cincinnati to Chicago from where he was set to take a flight to Turkey, the report said.

According to the newspaper, Alebbini has previously visited Turkey. He faced problems during his last trip when the Turkish authorities denied him entry over the expiry of his Jordanian passport.

Then the police learned that his visit to the Turkish embassy in Washington was stormy because he had tried to get a visa despite the expiry of his passport.

FBI documents presented to the court said that in addition to monitoring his moves, police had questioned Alebbini on several occasions. They also monitored his phone calls and his social media posts.

He had expressed frustration over US policy in the Middle East and the police arrest after his visit to the Turkish embassy.

“You will regret it,” he said, in one of his posts.

Media reports also said that Alebbini had told FBI investigators he was “the perfect recruit for ISIS.”

US Warning on Truck-Ramming Terror Attacks

Washington- The Transportation Security Administration has warned that terrorists could resort to vehicle-ramming as ISIS media is sending signals to Muslims in the US on how to commit terrorist attacks.

The TSA has told the trucking and busing industries to watch for terrorists who might be preparing to ram vehicles into people and buildings, CNN reported on Friday.

Businesses should take measures to prevent the theft of commercial motor vehicles and watch for suspicious behaviors by those who might want to rent or buy such vehicles, the report said.

According to CNN, the TSA highlighted 17 attacks that have killed more than 170 people around the world since 2014.

It referred to a July 206 attack in which a man drove a truck into pedestrians in Nice, France, killing 84 people during a Bastille Day celebration.

The TSA warning came as the Washington Post reported that ISIS has called through its propaganda magazine on terrorist recruits in the United States to take advantage of laws that allow people to buy firearms without having to present identification or submit to background checks.

Recruits should seek out gun shows and online sales in particular, ISIS said.

“The acquisition of firearms can be very simple depending on one’s geographical location,” it said.

“With approximately 5,000 gun shows taking place annually within the United States,” it added, “the acquisition of firearms becomes a very easy matter.”

The National Rifle Association, gun rights activists and some civil rights lawyers contend that terrorism watch lists are too flawed to justify a ban and would violate people’s civil rights. The NRA also argues against legislation designed to close “loopholes,” saying federal law applies wherever a firearm sale takes place.

US: Terrorist to Remain in Custody for Watching Show about Terrorism

Washington- A US Federal Judge in Minneapolis (State of Minnesota) has ordered an American-Somali man to remain in custody for watching a documentary on terrorism while in detention.

Abdullahi Yusuf, 21, was sentenced last year for trying to join ISIS. But he violated the terms of his probation by watching a documentary on terrorism and terrorists at his halfway house.

Minneapolis Star Tribune said Thursday that US District Judge Michael Davis ordered Yusuf remain in custody until a hearing next week, when a federal judge is expected to decide whether he violated the terms of his probation.

Yusuf was one of nine young men sentenced last year after a long FBI investigation into ISIS recruiting in Minnesota’s Somali community.

He was arrested at Minneapolis airport while on his way to Turkey.

Jordanian Arrested in US before Traveling to Join ISIS

Washington- US police arrested Jordanian citizen Laith Alebbini and referred him to trial on Thursday at Dayton’s court in Ohio as part of a series of arrests of Muslims on charges of joining ISIS or attempting to travel and fight alongside jihadists.

According to the official complaint filed in US District Court, Alebbini, 26, was taken into custody by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The FBI said they learned Alebbini had purchased his tickets on Monday. He was arrested on Wednesday before he entered the TSA security lines at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Alebbini, who resided in Dayton, was first arrested in January for unlawful entry into the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC.

The charges were dismissed, but according to the complaint, Alebbini told law enforcement officials “you are going to regret this” when being escorted from the property.

Two days afterward, he traveled to Turkey but was denied entry because his passport had expired.

New York Daily News said Friday that Alebbini raised doubts about him because he traveled from Ohio to Washington to get a visa to enter Turkey.

The newspaper said that Alebbini is in the US legally on permanent resident status, and most recently had been living in Dayton.

He remained in custody Thursday on charges that he attempted to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

In an interrogation session with the FBI in January regarding his alleged break-in to the Turkish embassy, Alebbini admitted to posting pro-ISIS videos on his social media page, and claimed he was the “perfect recruiter for ISIS,” but said he did not agree with their violence.

In 2016, Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, 29, US citizen of Jordanian origin, was detained in Pakistan and secretly flown to New York to face federal terrorism charges.

Farekh was in Texas but has moved with his family at a young age to Jordan, where he also has citizenship. He also attended school in Canada.

Farekh, also known as Abdullah al-Shami, was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

He and two other associates were studying at the University of Manitoba when, around 2007, they sold their belongings and left Winnipeg.

They then traveled to Pakistan to link up with militants and fight against American forces, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York.

The three called a friend in Canada when they arrived and told him they intended to become “martyrs,” the complaint said.

Over the next several years, Farekh rose through al-Qaeda’s ranks, later coming to the attention of US intelligence officials. By 2013, he had been nominated by the Pentagon to a “kill list” of suspected terrorists.

Canada Arrests Citizen for Attempting to Join ISIS

Canada

Washington – One day after US Congress issued a report on the increased involvement of US citizens with ISIS and other terrorist organizations, Canada announced it has arrested a person who returned from the Middle East, believing he has joined ISIS there.

Canadian Security experts said that this increased involvement with ISIS in Canada has become a major concern.

AFP said on Friday that Pamir Hakimzadah, 27, was arrested in Canada and accused of leaving Canada two years ago to join a terrorist organization in the Middle East.

For its part, Toronto Sun Newspaper said that Hakimzadah has been charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with leaving the country on or about Oct. 22, 2014 to join a terrorist group.

That would be the very day that Parliament Hill was attacked and Corp. Nathan Cirillo was murdered by a man who pledged allegiance to ISIS and just two days after another follower ran down Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

According to the newspaper, Hakimzadah traveled to Turkey on his way to Syria, but for unknown reasons he returned to Canada with news that he was arrested in Turkey and returned to his homeland by the Turkish government.

No information was provided on how many months he spent in the Middle East or whether he crossed the Syrian borders and joined ISIS or any other terrorist group.

Hakimzadah has been a resident of the Toronto South detention center since his arrest last June on three charges, including assault causing bodily harm and uttering a threat to cause bodily harm stemming from an incident a year earlier against his sister, Saiema Hakimzadah.

“When the RCMP went calling at his jail cell Wednesday, they added a far different count: Leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group — otherwise known as becoming a terror tourist,” said the newspaper.

The 2016 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat To Canada found 180 people with Canadian connections are suspected of travelling abroad to fight for the terror group.

“Canadian extremist travelers represent a small but notable part of the broader international problem,” the Public Safety report said.

Last March, Turkish authorities intercepted and detained two GTA men suspected of being would-be combatants.

The RCMP were notified and waiting when the pair was returned to Toronto.

In a different matter, Cases of homegrown extremism in the United States continue to rise, according to the House Homeland Security’s latest Terror Threat Snapshot.

The committee, led by Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, released its monthly report on Wednesday, which noted that of the 204 homegrown “extremists cases” in the US since 9/11, 36 occurred in the last 12 months.

“We must remain clear-eyed about the threats we face,” McCaul said.

“We must intensify our efforts to deny these terrorists safe havens abroad while more aggressively countering extremist radicalization efforts here in the United States,” McCaul added.

The report also cited information from former Michael Morell, deputy director of the CIA, who said there is also an “expected growing threat” to US airports from both ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Morell urged the Transportation Security Administration to remain alert, calling airports the “center of the target zone.”

Two US Communists Fought ISIS with Kurds in Syria

Lucas Chapman, left, and Brace Belden, U.S. volunteers with the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, pose for a portrait next to a homemade armored vehicle in a rear base near Tal Samin, Syria.

Washington-Before the expected attack by the allies to restore Raqqa, ISIS’ capital, and after they spent more than a year with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the two US communists decided to return to the United States after they have fought with Kurdish forces and purposely decided not to cooperate with US forces, which they described as “imperialists.”

Washington Post Newspaper published on Sunday an interview with them in al-Tawila, beside Raqqa.

Brace Belden, 27, a florist from San Francisco, said that he will marry his girlfriend and return to Syria with her to join a Marxist-Leninist political organization, not to fight.

For his part, Lucas Chapman, 21, an American University history graduate, who described himself as a Jew said that he hopes to work with Kurdish organizations in the United States.

They said that they traveled to Syria and intended to immerse themselves in the community structures being established by the People’s Democratic Union, the Marxist-inspired political party that controls northeastern Syria.

Belden and Chapman are among hundreds of Westerners who have made the journey to northeastern Syria over the past two years to volunteer with the Kurds, which is not illegal in the United States.

Many of them are US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who want to get into the fight.

Some, however, like Belden and Chapman, are idealists, intrigued by the new society the Syrian Kurds claim to be building.

After an arduous trek through the mountains to circumvent controls on the border between Syria and Iraq, they completed an obligatory, month-long training course in ideology, language and basic military skills.

Then they were given uniforms, assigned to the heavy weapons unit of the party’s military wing — known as the YPG, or People’s Protection Units — and dispatched to the front line outside Raqqa to fight ISIS.

They also said that the growing US military presence in northeastern Syria is one of the reasons Belden and Chapman have decided to head home soon, despite intentions expressed earlier this year to stay for the final Raqqa offensive.

The YPG has forged a close military alliance with the United States, which has about 1,000 troops serving alongside Kurdish and Arab forces and is expected to send 1,000 more.

Though they rarely encountered the US forces, the American presence was disconcerting for committed Marxists dedicated to the overthrow of the Western capitalist system.

“As a Marxist, I have to get used to contradictions. It’s more a case of two interests aligning temporarily,” said Belden, who does not believe the alliance will last.

However, he said, he wouldn’t fight alongside US ground troops.

“I do oppose all American presence in Syria. The US Army and Marines represent something totally reprehensible to me.”

Chapman feared the United States will eventually abandon the Kurds and their socialist experiment after using them to conquer Raqqa.

“They’ve betrayed the Kurds before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it again,” he said. “They’re occupiers and imperialists.”

They were perturbed by the relish with which the YPG greeted the US presidential election of Donald Trump, who is being hailed within the secularist group as an enemy of Muslims.

Chapman is an observant Jew, and one of his hopes was to find a way to bridge the gulf between Muslims and Jews by demonstrating his solidarity with Islam.
Instead, he found himself fighting alongside people who denounced Muslims.

“There’s a lot about it that’s not utopia,” he said. “It’s disappointing when people say things like ‘All Muslims must leave.’ ”