Is­lamic State lures North­ern Vir­gini­ans to bru­tal regime

9 ar­rested traded promis­ing fu­tures for ji­hadi ter­ror­ism

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Law en­force­ment agen­cies have ar­rested nine North­ern Vir­ginia res­i­dents on charges of aid­ing the Is­lamic State since the ter­ror­ist group rose to power in Syria and Iraq in 2014 and launched so­cial me­dia pro­pa­ganda to at­tract fol­low­ers, a government mes­sage to po­lice states.

The North­ern Vir­ginia Re­gional In­tel­li­gence Cen­ter is­sued pro­files of the nine in a Dec. 21 re­port la­beled “law en­force­ment sen­si­tive.”

Such re­ports are de­signed to help state and fed­eral agents rec­og­nize trends in the types of in­di­vid­u­als who are in­flu­enced by the Is­lamic State’s mes­sage and how they com­mu­ni­cate across ter­ror­ist net­works.

A de­fense at­tor­ney in one of the cases ac­cused po­lice of anti-Mus­lim bias; his client later pleaded guilty.

So­ma­lis liv­ing in Min­nesota ap­pear to re­ceive the most press at­ten­tion in the U.S. for want­ing to help or join the Is­lamic State. The FBI ar­rested six res­i­dents of So­mali ori­gin in April af­ter they made ar­range­ments to leave Min­nesota for Syria. Last De­cem­ber, a 20-year-old man of So­mali ori­gin was ar­rested on ac­cu­sa­tions of lead­ing a group of eth­nic So­ma­lis at­tempt­ing to fight for the Is­lamic State.

The North­ern Vir­ginia re­port shows that Mus­lims seek­ing to be­come mass killers live near the seat of Amer­i­can

government.

Of the nine North­ern Vir­gini­ans who were ar­rested, all but one were in their teens and early 20s. They in­cluded a po­lice of­fi­cer, a Star­bucks barista, Army sol­diers, bankers and a cab­driver. Four of the nine grad­u­ated from North­ern Vir­ginia high schools, one with hon­ors. Two at­tended North­ern Vir­ginia Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

In other words, all of them ap­peared to have op­por­tu­ni­ties via pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion to be­come suc­cess­ful Amer­i­cans but in­stead were charged with what amounted to a de­vo­tion to vi­o­lent ji­had.

They are sus­pected of con­duct­ing ter­ror­ism plan­ning through Twit­ter, Face­book, Skype, What­sApp and other plat­forms and apps, as well as on pre­paid phones.

“Lo­cal po­lice are in a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion,” said Robert Magin­nis, a re­tired Army of­fi­cer and re­searcher on Is­lamism who lives in North­ern Vir­ginia. “They face a se­vere chal­lenge by Is­lamists op­er­at­ing in the shad­ows of our open so­ci­ety. These mostly young male Mus­lims be­come rad­i­cal­ized ei­ther by Is­lamist imams at some of the thou­sands of mosques across Amer­ica, at school, or over the ever-present in­ter­net sites that spew anti-West, an­tiChris­tian ha­tred.”

These are the nine pro­files, ac­cord­ing to the in­tel­li­gence re­port ob­tained by The Wash­ing­ton Times:

● Ali Shukir Amin. He pleaded guilty to pro­vid­ing sup­port to the Is­lamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) and was sen­tenced to 136 months in prison. An hon­ors stu­dent at Os­bourn Park High School, Amin wrote a pro-Is­lamic State blog, had a Twit­ter ac­count with 7,000 tweets and in­structed peo­ple on how to use bit­coin to hide money trans­fers and on how to travel to Syria.

● Reza Nikne­jad. Also an Os­bourn Park stu­dent who was at­tend­ing North­ern Vir­ginia Com­mu­nity Col­lege, Nikne­jad, aided by Amin, trav­eled to Syria in 2015. He was charged in ab­sen­tia.

● Heather Coff­man. She pleaded guilty to mak­ing a false state­ment con­cern­ing in­volve­ment in in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism and was sen­tenced to 54 months in prison. She joined the Army but was dis­charged af­ter four months, and later worked as a sales clerk. She op­er­ated mul­ti­ple Face­book ac­counts to pro­mote the Is­lamic State and shared ter­ror­ism con­tacts with pos­si­ble re­cruits.

● Joseph Has­san Far­rokh. He pleaded guilty this year to at­tempt­ing to pro­vide ma­te­rial sup­port to the Is­lamic State and re­ceived 102 months in prison. He pro­vided $600 to a friend to travel to Syria and at­tempted to be a for­eign fighter.

● Mah­mound Amin Mo­hamed El­has­san. He pleaded guilty in Oc­to­ber to aid­ing Far­rokh and ly­ing about his in­volve­ment in in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism. He spoke openly of sup­port­ing the Is­lamic State and its vi­o­lence. He had at­tended North­ern Vir­ginia Com­mu­nity Col­lege and worked for Star­bucks.

● Mo­hamad Ja­mal Kh­weis. He was ar­rested in Tur­key on charges of con­spir­ing to help the Is­lamic State. His trial be­gins in April. He grad­u­ated from Edi­son High School and worked for two banks and High­gate Ho­tels. He trav­eled to Syria in 2015 to be­come a for­eign fighter be­fore hav­ing sec­ond thoughts and es­cap­ing.

● Mo­ham­mad Bilor Jal­loh. He pleaded guilty in Oc­to­ber to try­ing to help the Is­lamic State. He had served as a com­bat en­gi­neer in the Vir­ginia Na­tional Guard and worked for con­sult­ing firms. He met with Is­lamic State mem­bers in Africa and tried to buy firearms to carry out a Fort Hood-style mas­sacre.

● Haris Qatar. He also pleaded guilty to charges of help­ing the Is­lamic State. He at­tended North­ern Vir­ginia Com­mu­nity Col­lege and worked for Wells Fargo. He cre­ated 60 Twit­ter han­dles for Is­lamic State pro­pa­ganda and stalked res­i­dences in North­ern Vir­ginia that were on the group’s “kill lists.” He was pre­par­ing to make a video en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to carry out “lone wolf” at­tacks around Wash­ing­ton.

● Nicholas Young. The old­est of the nine at 36, he has been charged with help­ing the Is­lamic State but has not faced trial. He grad­u­ated from West Po­tomac High School and worked as a Metro po­lice of­fi­cer. He is ac­cused of stock­pil­ing weapons at his home. Ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties, he trav­eled to Libya and gave ad­vice to Is­lamic State fol­low­ers on how to avoid law en­force­ment mon­i­tor­ing.

Mr. Magin­nis, who stays in con­tact with lo­cal po­lice in Vir­ginia, said the wave of so­cial me­dia rhetoric against law en­force­ment has made their coun­tert­er­ror­ism role more dif­fi­cult.

“Given our open so­ci­ety, de­tached par­ents and po­lit­i­cally cor­rect schools, lo­cal po­lice in North­ern Vir­ginia un­der­stand­ably hes­i­tate to rig­or­ously pur­sue young Is­lamist wannabes,” Mr. Magin­nis said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Au­thor­i­ties raided the Fair­fax, Vir­ginia, home of Metro po­lice of­fi­cer Nicholas Young, 36, who is ac­cused of trav­el­ing to Libya to give ad­vice to Is­lamic State fol­low­ers on how to avoid law en­force­ment mon­i­tor­ing.

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