Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | isis | arrests | new york | terrorists

ISIS Plot Arrests Spotlight 'Known Wolf' Problem

By    |   Saturday, 28 February 2015 02:07 PM

The arrests of two young Islamic State sympathizers in New York City this week is proving to be an example of how law enforcement officials could decide on intervening in cases of potential "known wolf" terrorists.

The arrests came before they could make it to ISIS battlegrounds, reports The New York Times Saturday, while other already-known threats in other countries have managed to either stage attacks or join ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

For example, in London, Mohammed Emwazi was known for years as a sympathizer, and joined ISIS in Syria in 2013. He has since become known as "Jihadi John," who appears in several ISIS beheading videos.

"There are lone wolves and known wolves," a law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Times. "A lone wolf is someone who comes out of the woodwork; a known wolf is on your radar.”

But the number of "known wolves" is growing, and now the government's terrorist watch list carries 700,000 to a million names. Tracking all of those potential threats is all but impossible, said California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

"I suppose if you were completely confident in your ability to interdict people around the world, then you might let the plot mature a little further," Schiff told The Times. "But I don't think we can have that confidence."

Times have changed since the first attacks of the World Trade Center in 1993, after after which counterterrorism officials focused on breaking up terror cells and thwarting plans to blow up landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge, or kill people in places like Times Square.

Such large scale attacks are still a concern, officials said, but ISIS recruits have meant that investigations and arrests must be adapted, as the militant group has told people who can't travel to Syria to kill where they are, and officials say that has changed how they look at what in the past would have been considered just ravings from an unstable person.

For example, a hatchet-wielding man who attacked a group of New York City police officers in Queens last fall had spent time watching ISIS killing videos, law enforcement officials said, which may have spurred the attack.

This week, Akhror Saidakhmetov, a 19-year-old Kazakh national, was arrested as he was preparing to leave from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Syria by way of Turkey, and his roommate, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, of Uzbekistan, who planned a similar trip next month, and police say their radicalization happened quickly.

Many ISIS recruitment efforts, especially those made online, are in English and are sophisticated and sly. For example, ISIS recruiters have manipulated the video game Grand Theft Auto, to show how militants can attack and kill officers reconfigured to look like the New York Police Department's officers.

“You have to focus much more broadly on, ‘Where is ISIS going to put the message out?’ And look into those places to see who seems to be looking to act on that message,” the law enforcement official told the times “You’ve got a lot more people looking at social media.”

In the case of Juraboev and Said Akhmetov, the potential terrorists were tracked down through their online activities. Juraboev in August posted a message onto a ISIS-sympathetic website to pledge his allegiance and even attack President Barack Obama if he received such orders.

But officials said that if he hadn't called Obama out by name, Juraboev and his roommate would likely have escaped notice.

"If you didn't pick up the phone, if you didn’t go on the Internet, you didn't use technology, you're virtually undetectable," said another law enforcement official.

And when one of the men went to board a plane at Kennedy International, authorities decided against letting let him go overseas to "receive training, become hardened or proficient, and possibly do harm there or come back," the first official said.

Related Stories:
Feds: 3 Charged in ISIS Plot Raise Fears of 'Lone Wolf'

Jed Babbin: Arrests of ISIS Suspects Prove Profiling 'Works'

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The arrests of two young Islamic State sympathizers in New York City this week is proving to be an example of how law enforcement officials could decide on intervening in cases of potential "known wolf" terrorists.
isis, arrests, new york, terrorists
Saturday, 28 February 2015 02:07 PM
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