Surge in English-speaking militants worries U.S., European officials

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 6, 2013 10:06pm EST

A boy carrying a toy gun stands near members of Somalia's hardline al Shabaab rebel group after attending Eid al-Adha prayers inside a football stadium north of the capital Mogadishu November 16, 2010. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

A boy carrying a toy gun stands near members of Somalia's hardline al Shabaab rebel group after attending Eid al-Adha prayers inside a football stadium north of the capital Mogadishu November 16, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Feisal Omar

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Increased use of English in videos by Islamic extremists and a rising flow of recruits from Europe to fight in Syria and on other battlegrounds is disturbing U.S. officials who fear some could return to Europe or come to the United States to plot attacks.

Only last week, a man who spoke English and Arabic and called himself Abu Ahmed al-Amriki (Arabic for 'the American') starred in a new video message posted on jihadist websites and produced by al Shabaab, the Islamic militant group based in Somalia.

Abu Ahmed, whose face was blurred and whose real identity is not known, called on Muslims to give up their comfortable lives in the West and head for the front lines, in places like Somalia, Mali and Afghanistan, to wage Islamic holy war, according to an account by the Long War Journal, a counterterrorism blog published by the conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Although the fears of the West have sometimes proven overblown, this video and others highlight what senior U.S. and European security officials say is a fresh increase in English-speaking recruits, including dozens of British citizens, traveling abroad to fight - most notably to Syria.

The United States and Europe want to see Assad defeated themselves. The concern, officials said, is that many English-speaking recruits are joining the most militant, anti-Western Syrian rebel factions.

Earlier in February, a person describing himself as an "American mujahid," or holy warrior, posted the second of two video messages touting his involvement with rebels fighting the government of Syria, according to Flashpoint Global Partners, a New York-based consulting group which monitors militant websites.

"Bashar Assad, your days are numbered," the fighter, who spoke in English with an American accent, declared, referring to Syria's beleaguered president. "You should just quit now, while you can, and leave. You are going to die, no matter what. Where you go we will find you and kill you."

Simultaneously, U.S. officials said, English-language literature has blossomed online exhorting aspiring militants to violence wherever they are and providing them step-by-step instructions on how to use household materials to cause death and destruction.

"We've been monitoring (these developments) and yes, it's concerning," said Paul Browne, Deputy Commissioner and spokesman of the New York Police Department, which since the September 11, 2001, attacks has built aggressive counterterrorism operations.

The two videos' authenticity could not be independently confirmed. While some deadly attacks - including the July 2005 London bombings - have been executed by European citizens trained overseas, other feared threats have often failed to materialize.


In recent days, al-Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has issued two slick English-language magazines for the would-be weekend holy warrior.

The tenth issue of "Inspire," AQAP's irregular but well-produced Internet magazine, contains what amounts to a list of westerners the group has targeted for death. They include novelist Salman Rushdie, anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders, and Terry Jones, the Koran-burning Florida preacher.

The second new publication, published by Inspire with equally slick production values, calls itself the "Lone Mujahid Pocketbook". The guidebook, originally spotted by the Flashpoint monitoring group, asks readers: "Have u been lookin' 4 a way to join the mujahideen in frontlines? Well, there's no need to travel abroad, coz the frontline has come to you... Just read 'n' apply the contents of this guide."

It goes on to offer how-to guides, complete with pictures and maps, for causing traffic accidents, staging "lethal ambushes," "destroying buildings" by creating gas leaks and igniting them, and even "starting forest fires."

Browne said the NYPD is also "tracking the actual and threatened violence accompanying demands" by militants for the release from a U.S. prison of Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted for his role in New York-related plots in the early 1990s.

The latest Inspire issue contains a purported message from Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh, complaining about insulting and isolating prison treatment.


The Internet messages targeted at potential English-speaking militants surfaced as European intelligence sources say they are monitoring steady traffic of young British citizens and residents to Syria to fight Assad's government.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said dozens of fighters - and possibly as many as 60 or 70 - from Britain are believed to be in Syria.

It is unclear whether all are Islamic extremists. But many, the intelligence sources said, have joined up with Al-Nusra, a militant anti-Assad faction that the U.S. government declared a terrorist organization linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.

(Editing by Warren Strobel and Tim Dobbyn)

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Comments (2)
otrcomm wrote:
And this is a main part of why the 1% in the United States are trying to get control of all the guns in the United States. Revolt against oppression spreads quickly once the people open their eyes and ears and realize how they are being oppressed and for how long it has been going on.

Mar 06, 2013 10:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:
Why does America even have a military? America has abandoned its own duty to maintain its own borders.

Why have a military when every day thousands of people from India, China, and many other countries fly right into our main airports, and buy up American real estate and take American jobs?

Rarely mentioned in the press is the fact that the number of foreigners allowed to immigrate LEGALLY into the US this year is approximately 1.2 million foreigners.

This annual amount has been sharply increasing for the last 10 years, now averaging over 1 million per year. All other nations in the world do not allow substantial immigration.

It gets worse. This Legal immigration number is now set to sharply increase by a new bill just signed by President Obama allowing immigrants to apply to have family members come over, and reduce the paperwork, and increase the numbers.

Immigration is destroying the American middle class.

Labor, like any economic resource, obeys the law of supply and demand. If you dump labor into a market, it drives down the wage-rate.

The plain fact is that immigration into any modern country has two serious, lethal effects on the native-born citizens:

1. Immigration sharply drives down wage rates.
2. Immigration sharply drives up housing costs (rent rates).

Thus employers and landlords benefit from immigration.
Thus common workers are greatly harmed by immigration.

Immigration over the past 12 years caused more destruction of the American middle class than any other factor.

All other nations in the world, COMBINED, do not allow the levels of immigration that America is experiencing. It is the largest movement of human beings in the history of the world.

America’s leaders are criminals for allowing it to happen. And that includes the current senators and President. They are both owned by the wealthy class and multinational corporations.

These English-speaking Islamists have been coming to America as students, along with the millions of Chinese, Indians, Mexicans, Brazilians, Pakistanis, Russians, and other foreigners coming to sit in American class rooms.

These are all countries competing with America, taking American jobs, and buying American condominiums. They are arriving by the thousands every day, many under H1B visas.

Why does America even have a military? We are being literally invaded by immigration, and we do nothing.

Mar 06, 2013 11:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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