By Scott Stewart | June 30, 2011
On June 22 in a Seattle warehouse, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif pulled an unloaded M16 rifle to his shoulder, aimed it, and pulled the trigger repeatedly as he imagined himself gunning down young U.S. military recruits. His longtime friend Walli Mujahidh did likewise with an identical rifle, assuming a kneeling position as he engaged his notional targets. The two men had come to the warehouse with another man to inspect the firearms the latter had purchased with money Abdul-Latif had provided him. The rifles and a small number of hand grenades were to be used in an upcoming mission: an attack on a U.S. Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in an industrial area south of downtown Seattle.
After confirming that the rifles were capable of automatic fire and discussing the capacity of the magazines they had purchased, the men placed the rifles back into a storage bag intending to transport them to a temporary cache location. As they prepared to leave the warehouse, they were suddenly swarmed by a large number of FBI agents and other law enforcement officers and quickly arrested. Their plan to conduct a terrorist attack inside the United States had been discovered when the man they had invited to join their plot (the man who had allegedly purchased the weapons for them) reported the plot to the Seattle Police Department, which in turn reported it to the FBI. According to the federal criminal complaint filed in the case, the third unidentified man had an extensive criminal record and had known Abdul-Latif for several years, but he had not been willing to undertake such a terrorist attack.
While the behavior of Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh in this plot demonstrates that they were amateur “wannabe” jihadists rather than seasoned terrorist operatives, their plot could have ended very differently if they had found a kindred spirit in the man they approached for help instead of someone who turned them into the authorities. This case also illustrates some important trends in jihadist terrorism that we have been watching for the past few years as well as a possible shift in mindset within the jihadist movement.
First, Abu-Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh, both American converts to Islam, are prime examples of what we refer to as grassroots jihadists. They are individuals who were inspired by the al Qaeda movement but who had no known connection to the al Qaeda core or one of its franchise groups. In late 2009, in response to the success of the U.S. government and its allies in preventing jihadist attacks in the West, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) began a campaign to encourage jihadists living in the West to conduct simple attacks using readily available items, rather than travel abroad for military and terrorism training with jihadist groups. After successes such as the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting, this theme of encouraging grassroots attacks was adopted by the core al Qaeda group.
While the grassroots approach does present a challenge to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in that attackers can seemingly appear out of nowhere with no prior warning, the paradox presented by grassroots operatives is that they are also far less skilled than trained terrorist operatives. In other words, while they are hard to detect, they frequently lack the skill to conduct large, complex attacks and frequently make mistakes that expose them to detection in smaller plots.
And that is what we saw in the Seattle plot. Abdul-Latif had originally wanted to hit U.S. Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly known as Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base), which is located some 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Seattle, but later decided against that plan since he considered the military base to be too hardened a target. While Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were amateurs, they seem to have reached a reasonable assessment of their own abilities and which targets were beyond their abilities to strike.
Another trend we noted in this case was that the attack plan called for the use of firearms and hand grenades in an armed assault, rather than the use of an improvised explosive device (IED). There have been a number of botched IED attacks, such as the May 2010 Times Square attack and Najibullah Zazi’s plot to attack the New York subway system.
These were some of the failures that caused jihadist leaders such as AQAP’s Nasir al-Wahayshi to encourage grassroots jihadists to undertake simple attacks. Indeed, the most successful jihadist attacks in the West in recent years, such as the Fort Hood shooting, the June 2009 attack on a military recruitment center in Little Rock, Ark., and the March 2011 attack on U.S. troops at a civilian airport in Frankfurt, Germany, involved the use of firearms rather than IEDs. When combined with the thwarted plot in New York in May 2011, these incidents support the trend we identified in May 2010 of grassroots jihadist conducting more armed assaults and fewer attacks involving IEDs.
Another interesting aspect of the Seattle case was that Abdul-Latif was an admirer of AQAP ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki. Unlike the Fort Hood case, where U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had been in email contact with al-Awlaki, it does not appear that Abdul-Latif had been in contact with the AQAP preacher. However, from video statements and comments Abdul-Latif himself posted on the Internet, he appears to have had a high opinion of al-Awlaki and to have been influenced by his preaching. It does not appear that Abdul-Latif, who was known as Joseph Anthony Davis before his conversion to Islam, or Mujahidh, whose pre-conversion name was Frederick Domingue Jr., spoke Arabic. This underscores the importance of al-Awlaki’s role within AQAP as its primary spokesman to the English-speaking world and his mission of radicalizing English-speaking Muslims and encouraging them to conduct terrorist attacks in the West.
Once again, in the Seattle case, the attack on the MEPS was not thwarted by some CIA source in Yemen, an intercept by the National Security Agency or an intentional FBI undercover operation. Rather, the attack was thwarted by a Muslim who was approached by Abdul-Latif and asked to participate in the attack. The man then went to the Seattle Police Department, which brought the man to the attention of the FBI. This is what we refer to as grassroots counterterrorism, that is, local cops and citizens bringing things to the attention of federal authorities. As the jihadist threat has become more diffuse and harder to detect, grassroots defenders have become an even more critical component of international counterterrorism efforts. This is especially true for Muslims, many of whom consider themselves engaged in a struggle to defend their faith (and their sons) from the threat of jihadism.
But, even if the third man had chosen to participate in the attack rather than report it to the authorities, the group would have been vulnerable to detection. First, there were the various statements Abdul-Latif made on the Internet in support of attacks against the United States. Second, any Muslim convert who chooses a name such as Mujahidh (holy warrior) for himself must certainly anticipate the possibility that it will bring him to the attention of the authorities. Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were also somewhat cavalier in their telephone conversations, although those conversations do not appear to have brought them to the attention of the authorities.
Perhaps their most significant vulnerability to detection, aside from their desire to obtain automatic weapons and hand grenades, would have been their need to conduct preoperational surveillance of their intended target. After conducting some preliminary research using the Internet, Abdul-Latif quickly realized that they needed more detailed intelligence. He then briefly conducted physical surveillance of the exterior of the MEPS to see what it looked like in person. Despite the technological advances it represents, the Internet cannot replace the physical surveillance process, which is a critical requirement for terrorist planners. Indeed, after the external surveillance of the building, Abdul-Latif asked the informant to return to the building under a ruse in order to enter it and obtain a detailed floor plan of the facility for use in planning the attack.
In this case, the informant was able to obtain the information he needed from his FBI handlers, but had he been a genuine participant in the plot, he would have had to have exposed himself to detection by entering the MEPS facility after conducting surveillance of the building’s exterior. If some sort of surveillance detection program was in place, it likely would have flagged him as a person of interest for follow-up investigation, which could have led authorities back to the other conspirators in the attack.
A New Twist
One aspect of this plot that was different from many other recent plots was that Abdul-Latif insisted that he wanted to target the U.S. military and did not want to kill people he considered innocents. Certainly he had no problem with the idea of killing the armed civilian security guards at the MEPS — the plan called for the attackers to kill them first, or the unarmed still-civilian recruits being screened at the facility, then to kill as many other military personnel as possible before being neutralized by the responding authorities. However, even in the limited conversations documented in the federal criminal complaint, Abdul-Latif repeated several times that he did not want to kill innocents. This stands in stark contrast to the actions of previous attackers and plotters such as John Allen Mohammed, the so-called D.C. sniper, or Faisal Shahzad, who planned the failed Times Square attack.
Abdul-Latif’s reluctance to attack civilians may be a reflection of the debate we are seeing among jihadists in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Algeria over the killing of those they consider innocents. This debate is also raging on many of the English-language jihadist message boards Abdul-Latif frequented. Most recently, this tension was seen in the defection of a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan faction in Pakistan’s Kurram agency.
If this sentiment begins to take wider hold in the jihadist movement, and especially the English-speaking jihadist community in the West, it could have an impact on the target-selection process for future attacks by grassroots operatives in the West. It could also mean that commonly attacked targets such as subway systems, civilian aircraft, hotels and public spaces will be seen as less desirable than comparably soft military targets. Given the limitations of grassroots jihadists, and their tendency to focus on soft targets, such a shift would result in a much smaller universe of potential targets for such attacks — the softer military targets such as recruit-processing stations and troops in transit that have been targeted in recent months.
Removing some of the most vulnerable targets from the potential-target list is not something that militants do lightly. If this is indeed happening, it could be an indication that some important shifts are under way on the ideological battlefield and that jihadists may be concerned about losing their popular support. It is still too early to know if this is a trend and not merely the idiosyncrasy of one attack planner — and it is contrary to the target sets laid out in recent messages from AQAP and the al Qaeda core — but when viewed in light of the Little Rock, Fort Hood and Frankfurt shootings, it is definitely a concept worth further examination.
<The Seattle Plot: Jihadists Shifting Away From Civilian Targets? is republished with permission of STRATFOR.”>a href=”http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20110629-seattle-plot-jihadists-shifting-away-civilian-targets”>The Seattle Plot: Jihadists Shifting Away From Civilian Targets?</a> is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
- 2 Muslims Arrested In Plot To Attack Seattle Military Processing Station (creepingsharia.wordpress.com)
- A “violent, extreme ideology” Drives Plot to Attack Military Processing Center (allhazards.wordpress.com)
- 2 Arrested In Plot To Attack Seattle Military Recruiting Station (kirotv.com)
- Pamela Geller, WND: Muslim polygamy – in Seattle (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- Cops: Seattle plotters envisioned media frenzy (cbsnews.com)
- Prison Converts to Islam Planned Ft. Hood-Style Jihad in Seattle (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
The UN has proven itself to be a corrupt organization over and over again. It does not serve the purpose that it was intended to when it was established and has become a joke. It is time to withdraw from it and tell it that if it wants to continue it’s existence, it must move to another location outside our borders and that we no longer consider it relevant or meaningful in anyway.
- The UN: If At First We Don’t Secede… (via Be Sure You’re RIGHT, Then Go Ahead) (wdednh.wordpress.com)
- Just One More Good Reason To Disband The United Nations (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)
- UN names North Korea chair of arms control agency (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
Read Before Monday – Share With Friends…The Nationalist Myth and the Fourth of July (via Randy’s Right)
via Randy’s Right
If the Obama administration and their allies La Raza, gets their way, the United States will disappear just as the USSR did. I am not saying that the USSR ending was a bad thing, what I am saying is that we will end up in the dustbin of history, just as they did! We see the Obama administration quickly moving to erase our borders by not defending them and allowing illegal immigrants free rein without worry of deportation or even prosecution. We see Janet Napolitano with a straight face, tell Congress that if we just allow anyone that wants in the county, that we will actually be safer and that if we try to enforce our borders it will endanger Americans. I would like to see them tell families that have been killed or harmed by illegal immigrants that to their face. Of course, as adept at telling untruths, and as uncaring as they seem to be, that might not be a problem for them. The argument is insane on it’s face and yet they think that they can force this on the American people. If they can’t do it by way of Congress with legislation, they will do it by just ignoring the laws that they took oaths to obey.
We see the harm with the wildfires in Arizona and with the increased violence and killing along both sides of the borders. For all the claims that they are concerned about the environment, they seem to have little care of the country that has now been ravaged by fire. I wonder how many endangered species were killed?
We see the cost in jobs with the closing of oil and gas drilling in Texas in order to protect a sand lizard which they have never bothered to even check and see if it really is endangered. They never bothered to check and see if there were millions or only one. I guess any number would be endangered if it worked to close off the energy production from gas and oil, though. But it does make one wonder how many of those lizards perished in the fires that the Obama administration refused to help with. It kind of makes them responsible doesn’t it, if the species, or any other, were erased because they refused to act.
But then that is the pattern of the Obama administration, isn’t it? Refuse to help when needed, and actively hinder when they are not needed. Keep those who want to help from doing so, and stop the States from enforcing the laws of this country, and keeping the States that they are responsible for, safe.
I wonder what those who voted for Barack Obama thought that he meant when he said that he was going to “fundamentally transform America.” I think many of them were excited and thought that after the previous administration that they were so unhappy with, and the downhill turn in the economy in the last year of that administration, that Obama meant he was going to make things better. Perhaps they had the movie “Transformers” in mind, with it’s epic battles and hero’s. Perhaps they looked at Obama as a hero that was going to come in and save the day.
If they did, they were sadly fooled. I wonder if they can say that there is one thing that has changed for the better since Barack Obama has taken office? Our borders are being erased. Are enemies are at the back door and the Obama administration is even handing them the weapons. We are having our energy production closed off and denied to the American people. We have food prices going up every single day.
Then we have again this totally insane claim that if we just give all the illegal immigrants who violated the law, amnesty, that suddenly the very people that broke the law, will become law abiding citizen and our unemployment numbers will go down. This administration doesn’t live in Kansas, and you have to wonder if they have ever lived in the heartland of the country or anywhere along the border. If they think that the American people believe that crap, they need a reality check and are more naive than they think we are.
The question for the future is How far are they willing to go to get their way? We have seen how little regard they have for the laws. So far they have either ignored them or flat out broke them. And with an election coming up in 2012, they know that the future of what they want as well as the United States itself, is on the line. We have seen allies of this administration, such as some of the unions, gangs of young people, and groups like La Raza, encourage and take part in increased violence. Just in the last few weeks, we have seen gangs of up to 100 young people, roam the streets and threaten to kill white people. I have news for La Raza, who think that they have more right to this country that the rest of us. They were illegal immigrants from the very start. Columbus and Coronado weren’t born here. Ask the Aztecs if they were welcomed with open arms. So don’t bother to try and say that you have any more right to occupy this land than anyone else here. If you don’t like what we made of this country, you have no obligation to stay here. If Mexico is what you like, go there, don’t try to bring it to us. We don’t need what Mexico is becoming, just another refuge for the drug cartels.
So what is going to become of the United States? Are we going to allow the Obama administration to continue erasing our borders and breaking down our defenses? Are we going to let Barack Obama to continue to break the laws and betray our allies? Or are we going to stop the madness that is Barack Obama?
From the American Thinker:
The Arizona Fires and the Border
By Elise Cooper
The three recent fires in Southern Arizona once again bring the issue of border security to the forefront. These fires are an exemplary example of how the border is not secure. Experts and residents in the area interviewed by American Thinker are in complete agreement that all of these fires were set by people and that at least one, possibly all of the fires, were started by illegal immigrants.
These fires destroyed at least 60 homes, burned a great deal of acreage, and the havoc created will continue once the monsoon rains arrive, bringing with them the fear of massive flooding. A resident of the area was very grateful that no one died in this disaster; yet, cannot put into words how people’s lives are devastated: losing their shelter, livelihood, belongings, and memories.
There is not only widespread speculation but some evidence that illegal immigrants are the cause of the fires. Tucson Border Patrol agents have confirmed to American Thinker that an illegal immigrant started one of the fires, the Murphy Fire, as a distress signal. He was probably smuggling illegals into the United States and they were overcome by the heat. He was arrested and while interviewed by the Fire Marshal admitted guilt. However, officials decided not to prosecute him and he will probably be deported to Mexico.
There is strong circumstantial evidence that another fire in Southern Arizona, the Monument Fire, was also started by illegals. A resident, Mary Ann Black felt that the drug and human smugglers light the fires “in one spot where everyone runs to, busting their tails, trying to put it out. Then they move their operation down further. I am certain that this is a new tactic. This new tactic really hurts us, is easy to do, and is free for them.” The Tucson Border Patrol Agents agreed that fires have been started for deception tactics because “everyone goes to that area initially, which leaves a hole in the line. The enemies we are dealing with are not stupid. They are going to use any method to distract us.” The Sheriff of Cochise County in Arizona, Larry Dever, feels that anyone who connects the dots will realize that the fires were started by illegals considering the history; the rugged, mountainous landscape; and the continuous smuggling activity in that area. Furthermore, Dever wanted everyone to understand that the National Park and National Forest were closed to the public several days before the fire started and “the area is widely known in law enforcement circles as a high intensity, drug smuggling corridor. Anyone that lives in this area knows that the only people that use the trails are illegal immigrants. In the Park there is a sign warning visitors that there is a prevalence of drug smugglers in the area. Since there is a strong probability that the fire was started by smugglers Americans should understand that the border is not safe. This does not fit the Obama’s Administration paradigm.”
Why is the Obama Administration mute on this issue? Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) in a private plane observed the devastation of the fires while the President did not. It appears to all interviewed that the President did not want to backtrack on his statements made regarding border security in May of this year.
Border security should be a bipartisan issue. In August, 2010 Giffords stated that “for my district, which represents the Tucson sector, last year we had over 240,000 illegal immigrants, that’s over 660 every day, apprehended in the Tucson sector, 1.2 million pounds of drugs…I think there’s a lot of ping-ponging, a lot of political gamesmanship…And frankly, the administration didn’t elect me, my constituents elected me, and I’m going to do what’s right for my constituents.” Just recently Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was criticized for saying, “There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally. The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border.” Currently Senators McCain and John Kyl (R-AZ) are requesting that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) examine how illegal immigrants have possibly caused the Arizona wildfires over the last five years.
Arizona Representative Peggy Judd (R) pointed out that the US Forest Service sent out to the firefighters a safety alert that stated that “[t]here is a real possibility firefighters will encounter illegal immigrants or drug smugglers…These coyotes are engaged in illegal activities, could be armed, and don’t want to be caught. An encounter with these individuals poses a threat to personal safety…this area is deemed a high intensity drug trafficking area. Drug smugglers are moving large quantities of drugs across Federal lands…Drug smugglers are always considered potentially violent…Arson fires are being started to divert attention from illegal activities happening nearby.” Judd also believes that past fires have been started to ruin the surveillance equipment and to burn the ground sensors. Read more at The American Thinker
- Freedom Lost (loopyloo305.wordpress.com)
- Embracing The Culture Of Death (loopyloo305.wordpress.com)
- White House (Obama Administration) loosens border rules for 2012 (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- The Obama Aministrations and The Gangs (loopyloo305.wordpress.com)
- Democrats Seeking Amnesty For Millions of Criminal Illegal Aliens (pobeptsworld.wordpress.com)
- Obama Loses His Head (conservativetickler.wordpress.com)
- White House loosens border rules for 2012 (tancredoradio.wordpress.com)
- ICE agents warn Americans “to brace themselves for what’s coming” (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Obama Administration Puts Israel On List Of Countries That Support Terrorism, Removes North Korea (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- ALIPAC Calls for the Impeachment of President Barack Obama (tancredoradio.wordpress.com)
- Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking (hotdogfish.wordpress.com)
- Rick Perry: “The Obama administration is interested in Punishing Texas” (yourdaddy.net)
- Arizona Sheriff: ‘If Decapitating Police Officers Is Not Terrorism, What is?’: More Troops At Korean Border Than Deadly U.S. Mexican Border. (politicalvelcraft.org)
- Obama to Feds: You Don’t Have to Obey the Immigration Laws (sfcmac.wordpress.com)
- Top Smuggler Route Banned To Patrols (loopyloo305.wordpress.com)
- Brace yourself: The end of America is coming – Tea Party Nation (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Abandoned on the Border (tancredoradio.wordpress.com)
- If borders are so important, why don’t we start with our own? – Tea Party Nation (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Turn off the illegal-alien jobs magnet (tancredoradio.wordpress.com)
- AZ Wildfires Caused By Illegal Immigrants (cnn.com)
- Shootout between U.S. law enforcement and drug smugglers across the Rio Grande (seatoshiningsea.wordpress.com)