The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
It’s been a bad couple of weeks for homegrown domestic terrorism suspects, who can’t seem to get it into their troubled heads that plotting murderous mayhem on the Internet is not the best way to stay out of jail.
On Wednesday, federal agents swooped in and arrested a 20-year-old Ohio man in connection with a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol in an apparent act of jihad he allegedly discussed and planned with an informant on an instant messaging platform.
Last week in an unrelated case in Georgia, three alleged antigovernment militia members pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, according to the Rome News-Tribune. During several online conversations last winter, the men allegedly discussed using guerilla war tactics and bombings, targeting government buildings and offices, hoping to trigger an uprising of other militia groups and the overthrow of the government.
In the Ohio case, Christopher Lee Cornell and the informant first made contact with each other, according a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Ohio Wednesday, on Twitter in August 2014. The informant, seeking leniency in an unrelated criminal case, contacted the FBI in the fall of 2014 and told the authorities that Cornell had “posted comments and information supportive” of the Islamic State on Twitter.
On the Twitter accounts, Cornell used the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, and, according to the complaint, “voiced his support for violent jihad, as well as support for violent attacks committed by others in North America and elsewhere.”
Cornell allegedly wrote to the informant on a separate messaging platform in late August that he had been in contact with people overseas but did not think he would receive the green light to conduct a terrorist attack in the United States. Nevertheless, he allegedly told the informant he wanted to “go forward with violent jihad and opined that this would be their way of supporting” the Islamic State.
During a meeting with the informant in November, Cornell allegedly said that he “considered members of Congress as enemies” and his plan was to “detonate pipe bombs at and near the U.S. Capitol, then use firearms to shoot and kill employees and officials” there.
Cornell, who lived with his parents in an apartment in Green Township, was arrested Wednesday as he was loading into a car two rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition he had just purchased from a gun shop near Cincinnati. He was charged with attempting to kill a federal officer and with possession of a firearm with the intent to commit a violent crime.
His father, John Cornell, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he was skeptical of the charges against his son, a “momma’s boy who never left the house.”
“Everything you’re hearing in the media right now, they’re already painted him as some kind of terrorist,” the father told the paper. “They’ve painted him as some kind of jihadist. …(Christopher) is one of the most peace-loving people I know.”
The father said his son was a practicing Muslim and his son’s long beard and traditional Muslim dress made him a target for harassment. The father said once as his son was crossing a street “people driving by threw (objects) at him.”
In the Georgia case, which has not gotten much national attention, Brian Cannon, Cory Williamson and Terry Peace were arrested last winter. According to a nine-page federal criminal complaint, their goal was to force a declaration of martial law and spark a national uprising of militia groups by conducting a coordinated terror campaign that would create mass hysteria.
The men were originally arraigned last March on a charge of conspiracy to receive and possess a destructive device, according to the paper. But they have now been hit with a new indictment and a much more serious charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction as well as charges of conspiring to defraud the government. The new indictment and charges supersedes the previous indictment, the News-Tribune reports, adding that the weapons of mass destruction charge can carry up to a life term in prison.
The trio, the original complaint alleged, hatched much of the plot “in online chat discussions, which were monitored by [the] FBI, during which they chatted about carrying out an operation against the government.”
As Extremist ‘Constitutional Sheriffs’ Meet With Senators, Their Supporters Call for Obama’s Lynching
In one of the spacious meeting rooms of the Russell Senate Building in Washington, D.C., last month, three conservative members of Congress had an unusual meeting with a small group of law-enforcement officers who ascribe to far-right “constitutionalist” theories.
U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and David Vitter, R-La., and Rep. Martha Blackburn, R-Tenn., all met with former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, the far-right former lawman from Graham County, Ariz., who now leads the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a group of “constitutionalist” sheriffs who see themselves the last line of defense against those who would seek to infringe on the U.S. Constitution.
Originally billed in the National Review as a “massive gathering” of sheriffs from around the nation to protest immigration, the event was organized by two sheriffs who are active leaders in former Mack’s CSPOA and drew a much smaller crowd. And while CSPOA promoted the event and reported on it afterward, Mack told Hatewatch that it was not the chief organizer.
“I was invited to attend and we provided a little hors d’oeuvres,” he told Hatewatch. Still, he said, “I was really proud of these sheriffs for trying to take care of something on their own.”
The focus of the event was to stand in protest of President Obama’s executive action, taken after years of congressional inaction, to offer temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years and whose children were born here and are U.S. citizens, provided they pass a background check and pay taxes. But it wasn’t long before a group of extremists supporting Mack made itself known.
Just down the Capitol Mall that same day, a small group of protesters supporting the sheriffs gathered at the White House and began shouting slogans and demanding the removal of President Obama. Some in the crowd demanded the president be lynched–“Hang the lying Muslim traitor!” one of them shouted.
The same group of protesters then proceeded to the Senate building where the sheriffs were meeting, but were not permitted inside and instead lingered in the foyer. When the meeting ended, the demonstrators lustily greeted the emerging law enforcement officers and Congress members, some of them shaking hands and hugging the participants.
Mack told Hatewatch that he was unsure who organized the supporting protest. But he stressed, “That was not us.”
Obama’s executive action, taken after years of congressional inaction, offers temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years and whose children were born here and are U.S. citizens, provided they pass a background check and pay taxes.
The rhetoric used by the various officials during the press conference that followed was not nearly as incendiary, but it also reflected some of the paranoia inherent in the “constitutionalist” movement–even though some of it was coming from U.S. senators.
Obama’s executive action “is taking jobs and benefits directly from struggling American lawful immigrants and our native-born,” Sessions said. “A government must serve its own citizens.”
The sheriffs were largely on the same page. “When it comes to immigration, there is no law because there are no consequences, and that is something we in law enforcement have to deal with and have to fight,” Paul Babeu, sheriff of Arizona’s Pinal County, said. “Instead of putting illegals first and their rights, what about putting Americans and our rights and our security once, first?”
But what measure and reserve was on display inside the Senate Building was not apparent outside the White House.
That rally organized by an antigovernment group calling itself Operation American Freedom,” which had issued an “arrest warrant” to government officials in Washington earlier this year–was intended to support the sheriffs. An earlier video by Blaine Cooper, a “Patriot” who help organized a livestream of the event, announced that “we are gonna be at the White House at 10 o’clock tomorrow. The sheriffs are gonna be here doing their rally, and Operation American Freedom, or O.A.F., are gonna be there as well.”
Cooper’s livestream video also provided an unusual inside look at the protest.
There appear to have only been a couple dozen gathered to protest. Most of the noise at the demonstration was created by one man, wearing a tricorn hat and shouting into a bullhorn. One protester in particular—a bearded man toting an American flag—seemed especially intent on seeing Obama hung.
“Hang the lying Kenyan traitor terrorist piece of shit,” he shouted at one point. “He’s a traitor! Hang him!” The same man kept shouting variations of this throughout the protest.
When a large wood chipper drove past the scene, one of the protesters remarked: “Hey, a wood chipper! That gives me an idea” – suggesting he would like to run the president through the machine. When the press conference had finished, the participants were swarmed by the sheriffs’ supporters in the foyer, who cheered loudly as they exited and swarmed Sessions to express their admiration.
“We love you, God bless you,” one said. “Thank you for all your work in the Senate, and thank you for all of this – fighting Obama tooth and nail.”
In the video, Mack could be seen embracing a man with the tricorn hat as he departed. However, he could not tell Hatewatch afterwards anything about the man or the group: “I didn’t know if they were pro or con,” he said via e-mail.
Afterward, Mack was less than optimistic about the outcome of the event.
“My overall feeling was that Washington D.C. wasn’t going to do anything to enforce the law or fix the problem,” he said. “I don’t believe the leadership will allow the problem to be fixed. … And it’s really a slap at the black community that so many millions are going to be competing with low income minority groups for jobs. I don’t think there is any way around that. The president has once again shown that he’ll do anything he wants, whether its lawless or not, no matter who it hurts.”
The U.S.-born co-founder of a Muslim extremist group that once threatened the creators of “South Park” over an episode depicting the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bear suit is now facing up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to issuing online threats against Jewish leaders.
Yousef al-Khattab, who entered the plea on Nov. 1, is the third person associated with the group Revolution Muslim to be convicted in federal court in Alexandria, Va., the Washington Post reported. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 7.
The Post reported that in court documents al-Khattab “admits encouraging readers to take unspecified action against Jewish leaders.”
The threats on the Revolution Muslim website included a video encouraging viewers to find leaders of Jewish Federation chapters and “deal with them directly at their homes”; directions to Jewish facilities, along with bomb-making instructions; and a poem listing ways to hurt Jews, including throwing “liquid drain cleaner in their faces,” according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). ( continue to full post… )
Omar Hammami, the intellectually gifted, popular, church-going teen from small town Daphne, Ala., who turned into a rap song-writing and performing al Qaeda propagandist, was reportedly killed in an ambush on Thursday in southern Somalia.
The ambush, according to the Associated Press, was ordered by the leader of Hammami’s terrorist organization – the Somalia-based al-Shabaab, a barbaric group whose members in 2008 stoned to death a 13-year-old rape victim in a stadium filled with spectators. ( continue to full post… )
A young man from Clarkston, Wash. – who idolized Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and nearly died exploding a test bomb before becoming interested in radical jihadists – was sentenced Tuesday to 12.5 years in federal prison.
The federal investigation and prosecution of Joseph Jefferey Brice shines a spotlight on the antigovernment, anti-Semitic links shared between Islamic jihadists and white supremacists.
“Tim’s characteristics are nearly the same as myself, physically (and) politically,” Brice, 23, wrote in an Internet message posted on Jan. 14, 2010. ( continue to full post… )
With the news that the Boston Marathon bombers may have Chechnyan roots, attention is turning to the threat of “self-radicalized” Muslims in the United States. In the fall of 2011, the Intelligence Report ran a cover story and several sidebars on that phenomenon that may be useful to readers.
Our lead story explored the changing nature of the jihadist threat as extremists living in the country have become at least as dangerous as operatives from abroad. We also published a timeline of 30 attacks by homegrown jihadists since 9/11 and profiles of 10 extremists. I also wrote an accompanying editorial.
At the same time, the fact that the two suspects, one of whom died in a shootout with police, may be Muslim has prompted serious concerns about a backlash against Muslims in this country. We explored issues of Islamophobia in a cover story in our Summer 2011 issue. Accompanying that story was a look at the anti-Muslim inner circle. We also reported recently on the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes that began in 2010. Pro-immigrant activists are also worried that the fact that the two suspects were immigrants may harm or even derail efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the near future.
A terrorist sympathizer, a college dropout who idolized both American terrorist Timothy McVeigh and Islamic jihadists while learning the hard way how to build bombs, likely faces a lengthy prison sentence after confessing to two terrorism-related crimes.
Joseph Jefferey Brice, 22, who nearly died when one of his eight-pound homemade bombs exploded in April 2010, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane to illegally making the device and later providing bomb-making instructions online to potential foreign terrorists.
A Manhattan man arrested on charges of plotting to build and detonate bombs in New York had become fascinated by the American-born militant Anwar al-Awlaki during the course of his radicalization, The New York Times is reporting.
The Southern Poverty Law Center profiled al-Awlaki in the Fall 2011 issue of the Intelligence Report, which noted that, “many homegrown extremists arrested on terrorism charges are known to have frequented extremist websites early in the radicalization process.” ( continue to full post… )
Two U.S. citizens who became Islamist jihadists were killed in an American drone attack in Yemen early this morning, officials in America and Yemen report. The deaths of Anwar al-Awlaki, an Amercan-born radical cleric linked to at least 15 terrorist plots, and Samir Khan, editor of Inspire, a sophisticated English-language online magazine devoted to inspiring homegrown jihadists, are being touted as a major blow to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda’s virulent Yemen-based arm. ( continue to full post… )
Two men have been arrested in a plot to attack a U.S. military recruiting post in Seattle. The men, ex-convicts and Muslim coverts, allegedly planned to take over the post and shoot military personnel there to gain media attention.
Six New York teens charged with murder are now under indictment for committing a hate crime in the beating death of Anthony Collao. The teens allegedly bludgeoned the 18-year-old with a pipe, cane and stick, mistakenly believing he was gay.
The trial of suspected white supremacist gang member Jessie Raffensberger is to begin today on charges of aggravated assault and kidnapping. The Costa Mesa, Calif., man allegedly lured a man to a hotel and pistol-whipped him in order to extort money to continue gang activities. ( continue to full post… )