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Terrorism


American Muslim Extremists Target U.S. Military

Posted: December 4, 2009

Updated: November 2011

 

Military installations and personnel in the U.S. remain primary targets for American citizens influenced by the radical ideologies propagated by Islamic terrorist movements overseas. Of the six planned attacks in the U.S. thus far in 2011, four targeted military personnel or installations.

 

In June, 2011, two men were arrested for an alleged plot to attack the Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle. Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh allegedly planned to attack the military recruiting station using automatic weapons and grenades. Abdul-Latif, who served in the U.S. Navy in the 1990s, compared his plot to the 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas by army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, which left 12 soldiers and one civilian dead and 32 others injured. According to the criminal complaint, Abdul-Latif told the informant that "If one person could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more."

 

Nidal Hasan inspired another plot in 2011; on July 27, Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo was arrested and charged for allegedly planning a similar attack against Fort Hood military personnel. Abdo, who apparently tried to emulate Hasan, purchased ammunition and gun powder at the same store where Hasan bought his weapons. As Abdo was leaving his first court appearance in July, he yelled "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009." In an interview given after his arrest, Abdo claimed he originally planned to kidnap and videotape the execution of one of his commanding officers at Fort Campbell.  He also said that he thought he would only see freedom from the military through martyrdom.

 

A search of Abdo’s motel room turned up a large supply of ammunition, weapons and what an FBI agent has described as “some components which could be considered bomb-making materials.” An article from Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language magazine, on “How to "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" was also found in the room. 

 

The same article from Inspire allegedly influenced Jose Pimentel, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was arrested in November 2011 for a plot targeting military personnel returning from abroad. Like Abdo, he used the article to guide his bomb making, purchasing components for the bomb it pictured, according to the criminal complaint. Pimentel also posted videos showing alleged atrocities committed by soldiers and called for the government to warn all civilians living in or working at "all military… facilities" about the heightened dangers of living there.”

 

Two months before the Pimentel arrest, Rezwan Matin Ferdaus was arrested in Massachusetts for planning an attack on the Pentagon and Capitol with explosives-packed model airplanes in order to “disable their [the American] military center.” Ferdaus allegedly also contemplated targeting a military base in Colorado, according to court documents. The stated goal of his planned attack was to “disable their military center,” so that “once we cut off the military, we can take care of the politicians…” 

 

Attacks targeting the military have resulted in the only two deadly jihad-motivated incidents in the United States since September 11. In addition to the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, on June 1, 2009, Abdulahakim Mujahid Muhammad shot two uniformed American soldiers, killing one of them, at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. In an interview following his arrest, Muhammad reportedly said he wanted revenge for the American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muhammad also warned that other Muslims in this country "are going to attack."

 

Both deadly attacks demonstrate the particular danger posed by “lone wolf” extremists who, though unaffiliated with terrorist groups, nevertheless share their ideological goals.

 

The following is a sampling of plots against military targets in the U.S. by American Muslim extremists and their collaborators over the past several years.

  • Jose Pimentel, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged in November 2011 in a plot targeting military personnel returning from abroad. Pimentel posted videos showing alleged atrocities committed by soldiers and called for the government to warn all civilians living in or working at "all military… facilities" about the heightened dangers of living there. 
  • Rezwan Matin Ferdaus was charged in September 2011 with planning to fly explosives-packed model airplanes in the Pentagon in order to “disable their [the American] military center.” Ferdaus, an American citizen, allegedly also contemplated targeting a military base in Colorado. Ferdaus is charged with constructing and delivering eight modified cell phones to be used as detonators for IEDs in roadside bombs.  When he was told that one of his devices killed U.S. military personnel in Iraq and he was recorded as responding “this is exactly what I wanted and I feel so blessed.”
  • Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo, an American citizen, was charged in July 2011 with planning to bomb a restaurant frequented by Fort Hood personnel and then to target the survivors with firearms. Abdo yelled "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009" while leaving his first court appearance.   
  • Two American citizens were charged in June/July 2011 in a plot to attack a Military Entrance Processing Site in Seattle, Washington. The men, who allegedly planned to attack the military recruiting station using automatic weapons and grenades, were at a Seattle warehouse where they expected to pick up weapons from an undercover informant. Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, the apparent ringleader, compared the plot to the Fort Hood Army base shootings. According to the criminal complaint, Abdul-Latif told the informant that "If one person could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more." Abdul-Latif served in the U.S. Navy in the 1990s.
  • A naturalized U.S. citizen was charged in December 2010 in an alleged attempt to detonate a car bomb at an army recruiting center in Catonsville, Maryland. The criminal complaint alleges that he wanted to target the U.S. military because they were killing Muslims abroad. "Every soldier that we see in uniform will be killed on the spot, Insha' Allah ... They will be killed until they stop waging war against ... Islam," Martinez said. Martinez also told an undercover informant that he almost joined the military prior to his conversion to Islam.
  • An American citizen was charged in November 2009 for opening fire and killing 13 people at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. Major Nidal Malik Hasan reportedly exchanged more than a dozen emails with Anwar al-Awlaki, and looked to him for “religious guidance,” asking questions including when jihad is appropriate and whether a suicide attack is permissible if it kills innocent people. Hasan also reportedly wrote in one email to al-Awlaki, "I can't wait to join you… in the afterlife."
  • Two U.S. citizens from North Carolina were charged in September 2009 for conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel at a Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.  The indictment alleged that one of the men conducted surveillance and obtained maps of the military base to plan the attack and possessed armor piercing ammunition to "attack the Americans."  The men were also charged in an indictment with six other North Carolina men in July 2009 for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and with conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad.  The men have been accused of engaging in weapons training and conspiring to carry out "violent jihad" overseas.
  • A U.S. citizen was charged in June 2009 with killing one soldier and wounding another in a shooting at an Army recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad reportedly admitted that he was angry about the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and said that he wanted revenge on the American military. His attack was "for the sake of God, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the world, and also a retaliation on U.S. military."
  • Three American citizens and a Haitian native were charged in May 2009 in an alleged plot to attack two synagogues in the Bronx and to shoot down planes at a military base in Newburgh, New York.  All four men were charged in an eight-count indictment for conspiring and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States, conspiring to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, and conspiring and attempting to kill U.S. officers and employees. 
  • A U.S. citizen, a U.S. permanent resident and three others from Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia were sentenced to between 33 years and life in prison in April 2009 for plotting to kill American soldiers at the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey, as well as other army bases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. One of the men reportedly applied to become a police officer in Oakland, California and in Philadelphia.  He told an undercover informant, "The reason why I wanted to become a police officer…you move up. You have inside information."  He also reportedly told the informant that he wanted to join the Army to kill U.S. soldiers, according to authorities.
  • Three U.S. citizens and a U.S. permanent resident from California were sentenced to between 6 and 44 years in prison in 2008 and 2009 for their involvement in a plot to attack U.S. military recruiting offices and military bases in the Los Angeles area, as well as Los Angeles International Airport, synagogues and the Israeli Consulate.

Foreign nationals have also plotted attacks against military targets in the U.S. For example, in September 2009, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a Jordanian national charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a Dallas skyscraper, also identified military targets, including recruiting centers and the National Guard Armory in Dallas, Texas, according to court documents.

 

The following is a sampling of former American military personnel, all of whom are Muslim converts, who have been charged or convicted on terror-related charges in the U.S. 

  • Naser Jason Abdo, charged with planning to bomb a restaurant frequented by Fort Hood personnel and then to target the survivors with firearms, applied for conscientious objector status prior to his scheduled deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2010, claiming that his faith precluded him from serving in the U.S. military. 
  • Abu Khalid Abdul Latif, charged as the alleged ringleader of the June 2011 plot to target a Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle, Washington, served in the U.S. Navy during the 1990s.
  • Bryant Neal Vinas, who joined the U.S. Army when he was 18 years old but dropped out after three weeks, pleaded guilty in January 2009 to providing information about New York City transit systems to Al Qaeda for potential terrorist attacks.  He also pleaded guilty to firing rockets at an American military base in Afghanistan at the behest of Al Qaeda leaders in 2008. 
  • Hassan Abujihaad (a.k.a. Paul Hall), a former U.S. navy sailor, was sentenced in April 2009 to ten years in prison for leaking classified information about a U.S. battle group to alleged terror supporters.  Abujihaad, who was honorably discharged from the navy in 2002, provided classified information while on board the navy ship via e-mail to members of Azzam Publications, a London-based organization that allegedly provided material support to individuals involved in terrorism activities through Web sites and e-mail communications.  He also discussed attacking a military base in San Diego or a recruiting station in Phoenix with Derrick Shareef, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2008 for planning an attack at an area shopping mall by setting off grenades in garbage cans.  
  • Three men from the "Virginia Jihad Network," a group of ten convicted on terrorism charges for conspiring to join the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), served as former military personnel before they were arrested and convicted on terrorism charges.  Hammad Abdur-Raheem, a former U.S. army sergeant who spent eight years in the U.S. army after graduating from high school and fought in the first Gulf War, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2005 for conspiracy to join LET by training with weapons in the U.S.  Seifullah Chapman, a former U.S. Marine, was sentenced to 65 years in prison in 2005 for training at a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist camp in Pakistan. Donald Thomas Surratt, a former U.S. Marine Corps instructor, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2003 for conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S. He admitted training other conspirators in small-unit military tactics. 
  • Ryan Anderson, a former tank crewman for the Washington National Guard, was sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for attempting to share information about the U.S. military and its weapons capabilities with people who he thought had Al Qaeda associations.
  • Jeffrey Leon Battle, who was administratively discharged from the U.S. Army Reserve, was part of a group of six Americans and one Jordanian – dubbed by the media as the "Portland Seven" – that attempted to travel to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban.  Battle enlisted in the U.S. Army "in order to receive training in United States military tactics and weapons that he ultimately intended to use against the United States and in support of Al-Qaida and the Taliban," according to the indictment.  He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2003 for attempting to fight with the Taliban.

Another notable incident occurred in 2003, when Sergeant Hasan Akbar, an American convert to Islam, killed two American soldiers and injured 14 others in a grenade and rifle attack at a U.S. military base in Kuwait. According to prosecutors, Akbar wanted to stop American soldiers from killing his fellow Muslims.

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RELATED ARTICLES

Fort Hood and the Growing Muslim Extremist Threat

Soldier Arrested and Charged in Plot Targeting Fort Hood Military

Al Qaeda Inspired New York Resident Arrested on Terrorism Charges

The Seattle Terror Plot & The Online Messages of Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif


 
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