The recent, multi-pronged terrorist attack in Paris, organized by the Islamic State, coupled with other large-scale incidents in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, Yemen and Tunisia, demonstrate that the quasi-state has taken an increasingly outward posture in terms of attack strategies. In causing the second largest terror attack on European soil since 9/11, ISIS may replicate such incidents globally, including in the United States. The threat to the U.S. homeland is manifold. About 250 Americans are believed to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight. Some were killed (Amir Farouk Ibrahim, Douglas McCain, Abdirahmaan Muhumed). Others play varied functions; Ahmad Abousamra is believed to be running ISIS social media operations. A number have returned stateside; the fate of many is unknown. In light of the participation of several Syrian-trained fighters in the Paris attacks, the specter of foreign fighters returning here and participating in attacks is troublesome. More than 60 U.S.-based individuals have been charged with providing support to ISIS. Dozens of Americans attempted to travel to the region but were arrested before reaching ISIS.
Among them are Nicholas Michael Teausant, of Washington state, arrested while trying to cross into Canada on his way to Syria; Texas-based Michael Todd Wolfe, traveling with family, guilty plea to trying to join ISIS; Avin Marsalis Brown and Akba Jihad Jordan of North Carolina, guilty of conspiracy to support ISIS; Illinois-based Mohammed Hamzah Khan, guilty of attempting to join ISIS after being detained with his brother and sister at Chicago s O Hare Airport en route to Syria; Shannon Conley, guilty of conspiracy to support ISIS after boarding a flight from Denver to Turkey; Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, a former U.S. airman, extradited from Turkey, undermining his goal to reach Syria; and Keonna Thomas, charged after trying to board a plane from Philadelphia to Barcelona, with plans to reach Syria by bus. Meanwhile, more than a dozen U.S.-based individuals have undertaken a terror attack here or were prevented from doing so. Illinois-based cousins Hasan and Jonas Edmonds were arrested for conspiracy, with Hasan intending to join ISIS in Syria and Jonas planning to acquire weapons, using his cousin s Army National Guard uniform to attack the Joliet Armory. John Booker Jr. intended to commit a suicide vehicle bombing in Ft. Riley, Kan. New York-based roommates Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui were arrested on conspiracy to use explosives in an ISIS-inspired attack; Siddiqui purchased propane tanks and had a step-by-step guide on how to utilize them. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, armed with body armor and assault rifles, opened fire on a security vehicle in Garland, Texas, at an exhibition featuring cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. For some Americans, the lure of ISIS is strong. U.S. law enforcement is investigating ISIS-linked operatives in all 50 states. Unfortunately, a major caliphate-associated attack in the homeland may only be a matter of time.
Page 2 of 2 – Dean Alexander is professor/director of the Homeland Security Research Program at Western Illinois University. He co-authored The Islamic State: Combating the Caliphate Without Borders.
BAMAKO, Mali Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has ordered a 10-day state of emergency and three days of national mourning in the wake of an attack on a luxury hotel that left at least 20 people dead. At least two men entered the Radison Blu Hotel on Friday morning, shouted Allahu Akbar and began a shooting rampage that killed at least one American and many other businessmen and politicians from around the world a huge blow to a country that has waged one of Africa s largest campaigns against extremism.
Soldiers from the presidential guard patrol outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, on Saturday in anticipation of the President s visit. Malian security forces were hunting more than three suspects after a brazen assault on a luxury hotel in the capital that killed 20 people plus two assailants, an army commander said. The Associated Press
On Saturday, government officials and intelligence experts tried to piece together who was behind the attack and how the assailants were able to enter the hotel without any resistance.
ISLAMISTS CLAIM RESPONSIBILITY
Two Islamist groups, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Mourabitoun, claimed responsibility for the attack. Both have links to al-Qaida and are among terrorist groups that operate in North and West Africa. The scene outside the hotel was quiet Saturday, as troops set up a cordon and other soldiers went room to room, inspecting the damage.
Today we have an emergency. These terrorists are a global threat that we need to attack globally, said lawmaker Amadou Thiam, a vice president of Mali s parliament. Our government needs to introduce stricter identification and information systems so that we can track everybody.
Friday s attack was the latest in a year of deadly Islamist-led assaults across sub-Saharan Africa, where a patchwork of conflicts has sometimes been overshadowed by Islamic State violence in other parts of the world.
ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANs
From al-Shabab in Somalia to Boko Haram in Nigeria, the continent is host to a profusion of violent extremist groups, with a range of local and transnational goals, seeking to execute large-scale attacks against civilians.
The latest attack in Mali underscored how vulnerable the West African country remains, even after French forces and a small number of U.S. troops helped unseat Islamists from their northern stronghold in 2013. Before that campaign, militants appeared to be gaining ground, moving closer to the capital, seizing on the chaos caused by a 2012 military coup. The current government still has only tenuous influence in parts of the country, and the remaining French forces in particular are considered targets.
Rob Gillies, Associated Press
Updated 5:42 pm, Saturday, November 21, 2015
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) If France wants to step up its military campaign against the Islamic State group following the Paris attacks, it should have coalition special forces soldiers attack the group’s leadership, a former U.S. special envoy said Saturday.
French President Francois Hollande has vowed to increase the military response in the wake of the Paris attacks that killed 130. Allen, who left his post just last week, recommended a greater use of coalition special operations forces.
“There is substantial capacity in the context of our special operations that can be brought to bear,” said Allen, who has been reluctant to publicly discuss advice he’s offered to the Obama administration.
Allen noted an attack last year in which special forces killed the chief financial officer of the Islamic State, took prisoners and retrieved a large amount of data from computers. He said they attacked other targets within hours of exploiting that information.
“You get information that leads to more targets, which generate more operations. That up-tempo of special operations can become so great that you can gum up their capacity to make decisions and create some great demoralization within the system of command,” Allen said.
He said he would look within the coalition for a combined joint special operations force that could carry out direct attacks against IS leaders.
The Pentagon has been pressing European and Arab allies to provide more troops and support for the war against the IS, hoping that the horror of the Paris attacks and the fear more are coming will compel them to get more deeply involved. The Obama administration announced last month that up to 50 special operations troops will be sent to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.
Allen said the coalition has to attack the Islamic State group militarily, financially and online. To ultimately defeat it, the West has to do a better job of contesting the message of hate and recruitment, he said.
“Daesh will not be dead as an entity until we’ve killed it in the information sphere, until we’ve killed the idea,” Allen said, using the Arabic acronym for the group. “We must have a superior message to theirs.”