Culture Wars/Current Controversies

New York Bank Accused of Financing Al Qaeda Bomb-Making

View in browser

The Extremism Roundup

Promoting Civil Discourse and Marginalizing the Extremes
A weekly compilation of the most important developments in the struggle against radical ideologies

Islamist Extremism

Activist leads antisemitic chanting at Al-Quds Day rally, Houston, via MEMRI screenshot
Calls For Violence at Texas Al-Quds Day Rally

  • A recent video of an International Al-Quds Day rally in Houston was posted to the Syed Sarim YouTube channel, which showed participants praising terrorists and calling for violence.
  • An unnamed Muslim activist at the rally made statements calling for the liberation of Palestine and chanting “Death to Zionism,” while the crowd responded with “Death to Israel.”
  • The rally was advertised on the website and social media accounts of the Islamic Education Center of Houston, with sponsorship from the Palestinian Youth Movement. Read More

New York Bank Accused of Financing Al Qaeda Bomb-Making

  • New York-based Standard Chartered Bank is being accused of financing Al Qaeda’s bomb-making operations in Afghanistan, according to a lawsuit filed by families of two U.S. military members killed by the terror group.
  • The families of Wilbel Robles-Santa and Christopher Ward, both killed by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan in 2013, filed the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court.
  • The families allege that the bank provided financial services to the Fatima Group in Pakistan despite knowing it was supplying Al Qaeda with calcium ammonium nitrate, a primary component in IEDs.
  • U.S. government officials had warned Standard Chartered Bank in 2013 to stop aiding terrorist attacks, but the bank’s response was deemed “utterly useless” according to court papers.
  • The lawsuit claims that Standard Chartered Bank knowingly sacrificed American lives for its own profits, citing violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Read More

Alt-Right & Alt-Left Extremism

U of Penn swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after tying for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, March 18, 2022 – Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Trans-Rights Activists Attack University Speaker in San Francisco

  • Swimmer Riley Gaines, a former competitor of controversial trans swimmer Lia Thomas, was “ambushed and physically hit” by a mob of trans-rights protesters during her speech about protecting women’s sports at San Francisco State University.
  • Security and university staff blocked the angry mob from following Gaines as she was taken to a safe room, where she was barricaded for three hours.
  • Gaines and her husband reported that she was physically assaulted multiple times during the mayhem.
  • Gaines had intended to share her personal story of competing against Lia Thomas, a biological male athlete, at the Women’s NCAA Swimming Championships last year, but was unable to do so due to the disruption.
  • The university’s police department confirmed that there were no arrests made and an ongoing investigation is being conducted into the situation. Read More

Neo-Nazi Arrested Over Threats to Jews and to Penn. Governor

  • Anthony Hammer, of Denton, Texas, has been charged with making interstate threats to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) after sending an email threatening violence against Jews and expressing antisemitic views.
  • Hammer’s Denton rental home was searched by FBI agents, who found numerous shirts and hats displaying Nazi and antisemitic messages and symbols, as well as assault rifles, body armor and other weapons.
  • Handwritten notes in a spiral notebook found during the search revealed Hammer’s anti-government, anti-vaccination, and white supremacist sentiments, including a desire to harm law enforcement officers and burn Washington D.C.
  • Hammer has a history of run-ins with law enforcement, including previous charges of assaulting a police officer and bribery, and he is also accused of threatening to murder Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who is Jewish. Read More

 Abortion Activists Charged

  • The Federal grand jury in Middle District of Florida charged four individuals with federal crimes related to targeted attacks on pregnancy resource centers.
  • The four are accused under the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act which was originally enacted to protect abortion centers.
  • The defendants face maximum penalties of up to 12 years in prison, supervised release and fines if convicted. Read More

Synagogue Arsonist Pleads Guilty

  • Franklin Sechriest of Texas pleaded guilty to a hate crime and arson for setting fire to Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Austin in October 2021.
  • Sechriest admitted to targeting the synagogue because of his hatred of Jews, and his journals contained antisemitic statements and views.
  • Surveillance videos captured Sechriest at the synagogue on the night of the arson, carrying a container and toilet paper toward the sanctuary, and later jogging away from the direction of the fire. Sechriest’s journal entry confirmed that he set the synagogue on fire and monitored media reports on the investigation.
  • The sentencing is set for June 23. Sechriest faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Read More

School Threats

William Whitworth – DA Office of 18th via Fox News screenshot
Colorado Trans Teen Arrested Over School Shooting Plot

  • Colorado authorities arrested a 19-year-old suspect, William Whitworth, for allegedly planning to shoot up multiple schools in Colorado Springs.
  • Whitworth, who identified as “Lilly” and was reportedly in the process of transitioning to female, has been charged with two counts of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder, criminal mischief, menacing, and interference with staff, faculty or students of educational institutions.
  • Whitworth admitted during questioning to planning a school shooting, with Timberview Middle School being a “main target,” and was found with a drawn layout of the school and a manifesto filled with “schizophrenic rants” mentioning serial killers, politicians and entertainers. Read More

Michigan Teen Apprehended for Making Threats to School

  • A 15-year-old student from Superior Central Schools in Alger County, Mich., is facing legal consequences for making threats to the school.
  • Michigan State Police received information of a possible school threat and upon investigation, they discovered that the juvenile stated that he or she was bringing a gun to school the next day.
  • The student was apprehended, but due to his or her age, the name has not been released. Read More

13-Year-Old Charged With Making Bomb Threats

  • A 13-year-old boy from the Bronx, N.Y., has been charged with calling in bomb threats to Kearny High School in Hudson County, N.J.
  • The boy, whose name will not be released because he’s a minor, apparently has no connection to Kearny or the school system and picked the town at random.
  • He was charged as a juvenile with one count of false public alarms and two counts of terroristic threats. Read More

Hostile Foreign Influence Operations

Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad attends TIME’s 2nd Annual Women of the Year Gala – Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic via Getty Images
California Woman Sentenced for Assisting in Plot to Kidnap Iranian Dissident

  • Niloufar Bahadorifar aka Nellie Bahadorifar, 48, of Irvine, Calif., has been sentenced for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by providing financial services to Iran and the Government of Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
  • Bahadorifar provided financial assistance to a failed plot to kidnap the prominent Iranian dissident Masih Alinehad from within the United States for rendition to Iran in an effort to silence the dissident’s criticism of the regime.
  • Bahadorifar pleaded guilty for violating the IEEPA and was sentenced to four years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Read More

Chinese National Police Officers Charged for Targeting U.S. Residents

  • The U.S. Department of Justice charged 44 defendants, including 40 officers from China’s Ministry of Public Security and two officials in the Cyberspace Administration of China, with crimes related to the harassment of Chinese nationals residing in the U.S. who held political views that are unfavorable to the Chinese government.
  • The defendants, under the direction and control of the Chinese government, allegedly created and used fake social media accounts to harass and intimidate Chinese dissidents residing abroad and sought to suppress their free speech on the platform of a U.S. telecommunications company.
  • The charges filed are a part of a larger U.S. government initiative to expose and hold accountable Chinese government-sponsored activities that violate U.S. laws and undermine democratic values and human rights. Read More

Research and Trends in Extremism

CryptoPunks collection in OpenSea – Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Extremist NFTs

  • Blockchain technology is being used by Islamic extremists to preserve and curate extremist artifacts, potentially inspiring future generations of extremists.
  • OpenSea, the world’s largest online non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, currently hosts various Islamic extremist collections, which aim to glorify terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and encourage extremism. These NFTs have unique identification codes and are owned by individuals, which means that there is no content moderation to remove these harmful contents from the web.
  • Decentralized technology like blockchain makes it difficult to moderate content, which presents a significant challenge for counter-terrorism efforts.
  • There is a need to develop strategies and policies to mitigate the threat posed by Islamic extremist content on blockchain while still ensuring the democratization of data and shared ownership of information. Read More

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”

– Montesquieu

Leave a Reply