Swedish Nationalists Charged Over Invader Center Bombings “Received Military Training In Russia”

Two of three nationalists currently on trial in Sweden over a series of bomb attacks in Gothenburg carried out against communists and an invader center “received military training in Russia shortly before the attacks,” the state prosecutor has claimed.

(New Observer Online)

The three men — all allegedly connected to the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), were charged last week in connection with a series of bombings in the western city of Gothenburg last winter.

A blast at an invader center on January 5th left an immigration office staff member seriously injured with wounds to his legs. Two months earlier, on November 11th, a bomb went off outside the Syndikalistiskt Forum Kafe, a well-known communist hangout. No one was injured in that blast.

Then an explosive device was found on January 25th at a campground which was temporarily housing invaders pretending to be refugees. It failed to detonate.

One man is accused of having constructed all three bombs, another of providing the explosives and a third of placing the bomb on the campsite, Sweden’s prosecutorial authority said.

“It is a matter of very serious crimes. We allege that the actions are politically motivated and that the targets are in line with such targets the Swedish white power movement has an interest in attacking,” prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a statement.

Although all three have been linked to the NRM, the attacks are not believed to be directly connected to the organization. “Rather, there are indications that they were dissatisfied with the leadership within the Nordic Resistance Movement for not wanting to use violence to the same extent as they wanted to,” said Ljungqvist. “We can also see that two of the suspects shortly before the attacks received military training in Russia.”


US official: 12 Turkish agents to be charged for DC clashes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Police are set to announce charges against a dozen Turkish security agents who were involved in a violent altercation when Turkey’s president visited Washington last month, a US official said Wednesday.

The DC police are expected to say that seven men are being charged for felonies, and another five for misdemeanors. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke only on condition of anonymity ahead of a Thursday news conference that includes Washington’s mayor and police chief.

The action is likely to exacerbate what has become a major irritant in US-Turkish ties. Relations were severely strained even before the May 16 clash, which happened as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived at the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.

The NATO allies are still at odds over a US decision to arm Syrian Kurdish rebels fighting the Islamic State group in Syria. Turkey considers the fighters to be an extension the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey known as the PKK, and claims without evidence that protesters who showed up during Erdogan’s visit to Washington last week were themselves associated with the group. US officials have said law-abiding Americans were affected.

Protestors rallying against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gesture toward his motorcade as it exits outside of the Brookings Institution, March 31, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Erdogan’s security detail returned with him to Turkey after his visit, so it is unclear if any will face legal repercussions in the United States. However, they could end up being threatened with arrest if they return to the US If any are still in the country, they could be expelled if Turkey refuses to waive diplomatic immunity.

Video of the protest showed security guards and some Erdogan supporters attacking a small group of protesters with their fists and feet. Men in dark suits and others were recorded repeatedly kicking one woman as she lay curled on a sidewalk. Another wrenched a woman’s neck and threw her to the ground. A man with a bullhorn was repeatedly kicked in the face.

After police officers struggled to protect the protesters and ordered the men in suits to retreat, several of the men dodged the officers and ran into the park to continue the attacks. In all, nine people were hurt.

Earlier Wednesday, police said two men were arrested for their role in the fracas.

The Metropolitan Police Department said in a brief statement that Sinan Narin had been arrested in Virginia on an aggravated assault charge. It said Eyup Yildirim had been arrested in New Jersey on charges of assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault.

Yildirim made his first appearance before Federal Magistrate James Clarke in Newark, NJ, who ordered him held without bail pending his next court date in Washington.

Public defender David Holman sought home confinement, arguing that Yildirim wasn’t a flight risk and had never been convicted of anything before. Clarke said he was less concerned with him being a possible flight risk and more concerned about the nature of the crime.

Holman told the judge that Yildirim has received death threats because of the case. He said Yildirim is a business owner with three kids and ties to the local community. Prosecutors told the judge Yildirim had been arrested twice in the late 90s on simple assault charges, but the charges were later dismissed.

Narin and Yildirim were both participants in the protests, according to a US official familiar with the case. On the day of the violence, police detained two members of Erdogan’s security detail but released them shortly afterward. Two other men were arrested at the scene — one for aggravated assault and the other for assaulting a police officer.

The US official, who was not authorized to speak publicly to the matter and demanded anonymity, said DC police had identified 34 of 42 people who were involved in the fight, and are seeking their arrests. Police are expected to release photos of the other eight possible suspects and appeal to the public for information on their identities, the official said.

American officials strongly criticized Turkey’s government and Erdogan’s security forces for the violence; the State Department summoned Turkey’s US ambassador to complain. The Turkish Foreign Ministry then summoned America’s ambassador to address about the treatment of the detained security guards.

Turkey’s US embassy alleged the demonstrators were associated with the PKK, which has waged a three-decade-long insurgency against Turkey and is considered a terrorist group by the United States.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said they chanted anti-Erdogan slogans, and that the Turkish president’s team moved in to disperse them because “police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene.” The Turkish Embassy claimed the demonstrators were “aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the president. The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured.”



Juan Thompson

Juan Thompson. (photo credit:TWITTER)

A former US journalist is expected to plead guilty to a cyberstalking charge related to making bomb threats against Jewish organizations in the United States in a plot to get revenge against his ex-girlfriend, prosecutors said in letter filed on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

Juan Thompson, 32, is set to appear in court next Monday morning to enter a guilty plea, according to the letter, submitted by Acting US Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan.

Thompson’s attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment. Before his extradition to New York, he denied the charges, said he had no anti-Semitic beliefs and said he was being framed and targeted as a black man.

“Make no mistake: this is a modern-day lynching,” he said in a telephone interview from the Warren County jail in Missouri.

The prosecution’s letter did not give details about the planned plea, which will not become final until Thompson enters it in court. Thompson was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri on March 3, and has been in custody since then, charged with one count of cyberstalking.

The residence of Juan M Thompson is seen after it was searched by police in connection with his arrest on charges of bomb threats made against Jewish organizations across the United States, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. March 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant)The residence of Juan M Thompson is seen after it was searched by police in connection with his arrest on charges of bomb threats made against Jewish organizations across the United States, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. March 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant)

Federal prosecutors have said Thompson engaged in a vicious, months-long harassment campaign against his ex-girlfriend, using various email accounts to accuse her of possessing child pornography, driving drunk and, finally, making bomb threats targeting Jewish groups.

Thompson made some threats in his own name and then accused his ex-girlfriend of framing him, and made other threats posing as her, prosecutors said.

US authorities have been investigating a surge of threats against Jewish organizations, including more than 100 bomb threats against community centers in dozens of states in separate waves since January.

The organizations Thompson threatened included a Jewish museum in New York and the Anti-Defamation League, according to a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court. All occurred after the first flood of phone threats in early January.Thompson was a reporter for the Intercept news website, which fired him last year saying he invented sources and quotes.

Intelligence Contractor Is Charged in First Leak Case Under Trump

WASHINGTON — An intelligence contractor was charged with sending a classified report about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to the news media, the Justice Department announced Monday, the first criminal leak case under President Trump.

The case showed the department’s willingness to crack down on leaks, as Mr. Trump has called for in complaining that they are undermining his administration. His grievances have contributed to a sometimes tense relationship with the intelligence agencies he now oversees.

The Justice Department announced the case against the contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, 25, about an hour after the national-security news outlet The Intercept published the apparent document, a May 5 intelligence reportfrom the National Security Agency.

The report described two cyberattacks by Russia’s military intelligence unit, the G.R.U. — one in August against a company that sells voter registration-related software and another, a few days before the election, against 122 local election officials.

The Intercept said the N.S.A. report had been submitted anonymously. But shortly after its article was published, the Justice Department said that the F.B.I. had arrested Ms. Winner at her house in Augusta, Georgia, on Saturday. It also said she had confessed to an agent that she had printed out a May 5 intelligence file and mailed it to an online news outlet.

It was not immediately clear who is serving as the defense lawyer for Ms. Winner, who has been charged under the Espionage Act.

An accompanying F.B.I. affidavit said she has worked for Pluribus International Corporation at a government facility in Georgia since Feb. 13. While it did not identify the agency or the facility, the N.S.A. uses Pluribus contractors and opened a branch facility in the suburbs outside Augusta in 2012.

The F.B.I. affidavit said reporters for the news outlet, which it also did not name, had approached the N.S.A. with questions for their story and, in the course of that dialogue, provided a copy of the document in their possession. An analysis of the file showed it was a scan of a copy that had been creased or folded, the affidavit said, “suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.”

The N.S.A.’s auditing system showed that six people had printed out the report, including Ms. Winner. Investigators examined the computers of those six people and found that Ms. Winner had been in email contact with the news outlet, but the other five had not. In a statement, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, praised the operation.

“Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government,” he said. “People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”

Espionage Act charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, although conventional leak cases have typically resulted in prison terms of one to three years.

Once rare, leak cases have become far more common in the 21st century, in part because of electronic trails that make it easier for investigators to determine who both had access to a leaked document and was in contact with a reporter. Depending on how they are counted, the Obama administration brought nine or 10 leak-related prosecutions — about twice as many as were brought under all previous presidencies combined.

Mr. Rosenstein helped prosecute one of them, a case against James E. Cartwright, a retired four-star Marine general and a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff accused of disclosing classified information to reporters. General Cartwright pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his conversations with journalists but was later pardoned by President Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump called for a crackdown in the context of leaks about what surveillance has shown about his own associates’ contacts with Russian officials. The report Ms. Winner is accused of leaking, by contrast, focuses on pre-election hacking operations targeting voter registration databases and does not mention the Trump campaign.

The American intelligence community has concluded that Russia conducted a broad influence campaign for the purpose of undermining Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sowing doubts about the democratic process if she had won.

In October, when the Obama administration accused Russian of stealing and releasing Democratic emails, it also saidthere was a pattern of probing of voter registration-related systems that were traceable to Russian servers, but stopped short of saying the Russian government was behind them. The intelligence report, citing unspecified information the N.S.A. obtained in April, suggests the government is now satisfied that Moscow was the culprit.

Both attacks described in the report relied on so-called spear phishing, a tactic that uses spoof emails to trick users into clicking links or opening attachments that then install malicious software on their computers. The G.R.U. sent the emails from two free American web-based email providers, Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook.com, it said.

The first attack, on Aug. 24, involved an attack on an American company “evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions.”

The report masked the name of the software vendor, referring to it as “U.S. Company 1,” in keeping with standard minimization rules for intelligence reports based on surveillance. However, the report contained references to an electronic voter identification system used by poll workers and sold by VR Systems, a Florida company.

VR Systems’ website said its products are used by jurisdictions in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The firm’s chief operating officer, Ben Martin, did not respond to a voice mail message.

That attack was likely successful. The report said the G.R.U. used data likely obtained from it to conduct the second set of attacks, a “voter registration themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.”

Specifically, it said, in late October or early November, the G.R.U. sent to 122 local elections officials emails designed to look like they were from that company and containing attachments designed to look like an updated system manual and checklist. Opening the attachment would download malicious software from a remote server, the report said.

Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, shifted last week from his blanket denials of meddling in the election and suggested that “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved in the cyberattacks last year.

Portland man charged with light rail murder was known white supremacist

(JTA) — The Portland man who allegedly killed two men on a commuter train after they intervened as he spewed hate speech at two women who looked Muslim is a known local white supremacist, a local newspaper reported.

Jeremy Christian, 35, was arrested early Saturday and charged with murder, attempted murder and a hate crime, among other crimes, in connection with the slayings Friday on the MAX, or Metropolitan Area Express Light Rail, the Portland Mercury reported.

Christian was harassing two women who looked Muslim, including one wearing a traditional hijab.

The Portland Police Bureau said in a report that the man “was on the MAX train yelling various remarks that would be best characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions. At least two of the victims attempted to intervene with the suspect and calm him down. The suspect attacked the men, stabbing three, before leaving the train.”

Two of those stabbed, Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, died from their injuries. Micah David-Cole Fletcher is recovering in hospital.

Christian’s Facebook page included several posts with anti-Semitic messages.

In January he wrote: “Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS to put an end to Monotheist Question. All Zionist Jews, All Christians who do not follow Christ’s teaching of Love, Charity, and Forgiveness And All Jihadi Muslims are going to Madagascar or the Ovens/FEMA Camps!!! Does this make me a fascist!!! #MonotheistHolocaust FinalSolutionToTheMonotheistQuestion”

He is also against ritual circumcision, practiced by both Jews and Muslims. Among several posts that were both anti-circumcision and anti Semitic and anti-Muslim he wrote: “I want a job in Norway cutting off the heads of people that Circumcize Babies….Like if you agree!!!” The post came after Norway’s ruling party voted to ban ritual circumcision.

He also wrote earlier this year: “I just Challenged Ben Ferencz(Last Living Nuremberg Persecutor) to a Debate in the Hague with Putin as our judge. I will defend the Nazis and he will defend the AshkeNAZIs.”

The Anti-Defamation League condemned the attack and called for government policy to help counter such extremism.

“Now more than ever, ADL is sounding the alarm about domestic terrorism and hate crimes in America,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO said in a statement. “The scourge of ideologically motivated violence of all kinds, no matter where it happens or in what form, is one of the key issues of our time. The deadly attack in Portland is not a rare or isolated event. Rather, this is the latest in a long string of violent incidents connected to right-wing extremists in the United States.”

“This consistent threat requires consistent resources and we call on our leaders to condemn this brutal act of terror and craft policy to counter all forms of violent extremism, including white supremacy,” Greenblatt concluded.

Christian is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. He previously served prison time on robbery and kidnapping convictions, according to reports.

Danish teen charged in plot to bomb Jewish school allegedly inspired by Copenhagen synagogue gunman

(JTA) — A 17-year-old Danish girl charged with planning to bomb two schools in Denmark, including a Jewish one, allegedly was inspired by the terrorist who killed a security guard at a Copenhagen synagogue in 2015.

A Danish prosecutor alleged last month that the teen looked up to the 2015 synagogue gunman, Omar El-Hussein, according to the BT newspaper.

The girl, who was not named, adopted El-Hussein’s last name on several occasions, telling the court she did so because she thought he was “tough,” according to BT.

Following a trip to Turkey, the teen became interested in Islam and converted to the religion upon returning to Denmark, according to the prosecutor. She allegedly attempted to get in contact with the Islamic State terrorist group on the internet.

The teen was arrested in 2016 for allegedly planning bombing attacks on the Jewish school in Copenhagen and another school in Denmark. She had acquired chemicals to create the explosives, according to Danish prosecutors.

In February 2015, El-Hussein killed a Jewish volunteer guard in a shooting attack during a bat mitzvah celebration at the synagogue. El-Hussein was killed in a shootout with police.

Also last month, a Danish imam was reported to the police for giving a sermon in a Copenhagen mosque that cited a teaching calling on Muslims to kill Jews, the BBC reported. Mundhir Abdallah cited the teaching that the Day of Judgement “will not come unless the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them.”

Abdallah also said that Muslims will soon fight to liberate Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque “from the filth of the Zionists,” according to the BBC.

JCC bomb hoaxer charged with vast list of offenses, including threats to execute children, blow up planes

Israel on Monday filed a massive laundry list of criminal charges against an Israeli-American teenager accused of making thousands of bomb threat calls and other violent threats to Jewish institutions, schools, hospitals and airlines all over the world. His alleged threats caused fighter jets to scramble, planes to dump fuel and make emergency landings, large numbers of schools to evacuate, and numerous other chaotic consequences. In some cases, he allegedly threatened to execute children he claimed to be holding hostage.

The Justice Ministry said the 18-year-old hacker from Ashkelon was charged at the Tel Aviv District Court with thousands of counts of extortion, publishing false information that caused panic, computer offenses and money laundering, among other charges.

The indictment says that in addition to the previously reported threats to Jewish community centers, the unnamed teen also targeted hundreds of non-Jewish schools, airlines and airports, malls, and police stations, in the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Britain, and tried to extort Republican State Senator Ernesto Lopez from Delaware. He also offered extortion services over the internet in return for compensation in the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

The Israeli indictment reveals a pattern of threats far more numerous, more vicious, and against a far wider range of targets, than previously reported.

The court said the motive for the violent threats was to cause public alarm.

Israel has not publicly identified the suspect because he was a minor when he allegedly committed some of the offenses. A court gag order prevents Israeli media from publishing his name.

In the first of eight separate charges in the Israeli indictment, prosecutors allege 142 counts of making threatening calls and conveying false information to police.

According to the court, he called American Airlines, Virgin Australia and El Al and warned of imminent bomb attacks. The July 2016 threat against the Israeli airline prompted French and Swiss fighter jets to scramble and escort the airliner due to fears of a potential hijacking.

A bomb threat the teen called in to a Canadian airport led to the emergency evacuation of passengers who had already boarded a plane. Six people were injured exiting the plane on inflatable slides.

The indictment said the threat against the Virgin Australia flight resulted in the passenger plane dumping eight tons of fuel over the ocean as a precaution before landing.

He also threatened a plane being used by the NBA’s Boston Celtics basketball team.

The suspect allegedly posted a price list, advertising that potential customers could commission a threat of a “massacre at a private home” for $40, a call threatening a “school massacre” for $80, and a bomb threat against a plane for $500. “The accused even asked customers to contact him if they had special requests for threats against other targets and to receive a customized quote,” the indictment charged. He had some $240,000-worth of Bitcoin currency in an internet account — payments for his threatening services, Israeli prosecutors allege.

The second charge includes some 2,000 counts of making threatening calls to Jewish and Israeli institutions across the US in recent months.

Police said he used sophisticated “camouflage technologies” to disguise his voice and mask his location. They said a search of his home uncovered advanced antennas and satellite equipment.

The third charge in the lengthy indictment alleges that he made at least 48 separate threatening calls to US law enforcement agencies and officials. In some, he falsely claimed to be holding children hostage, and threatened to execute them.

The lawyer of the young Israeli hacker, suspected of sending bomb threats to Jewish facilities across the world, shows the court an image of a tumor in her client's brain, at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, on March 30, 2017. (Flash90)

The fourth charge alleges that he threatened State Senator Lopez, as well as harassing a former Pentagon official, then-assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs George Little, including threatening to kidnap and kill his children.

He was also charged with using the dark web to deal drugs, run an online hacking and document forging service, and buy and sell weapons online, and possession of child pornography.

He is also charged with assaulting the police officers who came to arrest him on March 23, 2017, when he attempted to grab the firearm of one of the officers.

On Friday, the Ashkelon native was charged in US federal court in Orlando, Florida, with 28 counts of making threatening calls and conveying false information to police. Separately, he was charged with three more counts of cyberstalking in an indictment filed in a federal court in Athens, Georgia.

Over the weekend, Israel’s Channel 2 reported that Israel had refused a US request to extradite the suspect in favor of him being tried in Israel.

The wave of bomb threats to American Jewish institutions in recent months helped spread fear amid an apparent increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic acts in the United States. Some said that the rise of Donald Trump as US president encouraged the extreme right and emboldened hate groups.

But the arrest of the Jewish teenager, a dual American-Israeli citizen, has complicated the anti-Semitism debate.

In previous court hearings, his lawyer claimed the defendant had a brain tumor and is on the autistic spectrum, which might have affected his behavior. She said his condition had prevented her client from attending elementary school, high school or enlisting in the army, which is compulsory for most Jewish men.

His parents have also argued that he is unfit to stand trial, though they have apologized for his alleged crimes.

Two Teens Charged with Hate Crime for Vandalizing Trump Sign, Letter and Spirit of the Law Be Damned

Would you consider Trump supporters a protected class who should be covered under hate crime laws? Police in Princess Anne, Maryland, apparently do.

Law enforcement officials in the town have charged two teen girls—D’Asia R. Perry and Joy M. Shuford, both 19—with a hate crime for setting fire to a Trump “Make America Great Again” sign. According to the Baltimore Sun, an officer wrote in the arrest report that “intentional burning of these political signs, along with the beliefs, religious views and race of this political affiliation, directly coincides with the victim.” The paperwork states the pair burned the sign, which was posted in the parking lot of a sporting goods store, “because of said victim’s race and religious beliefs based on the victim’s political values.”

As the Sun notes, “The only way to make any sense of this charge is to assume that anyone who is a minority (as both Ms. Shuford and Ms. Perry are) who dislikes President Trump must then automatically hate white people and Christians. Put another way, the Princess Anne police evidently think that to be a Trump supporter is synonymous with being white and Christian.”

The charges suggest the police in this case are going out of their way to punish the two girls for making a nonviolent gesture of disrespect toward those who are “white and Christian.” That tells you precisely how the police view these two groups and whose stature they think needs protecting.

Caryn L. McMahon, the deputy chief fire marshal, defended the hate crime charge by describing the sign burning as an act of “discrimination or malice toward a particular group, or someone’s belief.”

In other words, the police are equating vandalism of a pro-Trump sign with acts of harassment, aggression or violence that specifically target African Americans, LGBT, Muslims or disabled people. It’s not enough to charge these girls with arson, destruction of property and trespassing, among other things, which already seems far too punitive for such a minor act, but at least makes legal sense. These officials have decided that the “political values” of Trump supporters require unique protections and that mucking with one of their political signs should be seen as a particularly vile and dangerous crime.

The Sun points out how that position is not only nonsensical, but doesn’t jibe with the letter or spirit of the law.

“What Maryland’s hate crime statute prohibits is violence, harassment or destruction of property ‘because of another’s race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or national origin, or because another is homeless.’ Political beliefs don’t make the list.”

There’s a reason for that. The citation of “political values” and “belief” as areas covered under hate laws would vastly expand the grounds for arrestable hate crime offenses. As Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes at Reason:

[A]ny political disagreement that turned nasty could be classified as a hate crime, leaving the offender(s) open to much more severe penalties than they would face for a solo charge of something like assault or harassment…And of course the possibilities for authoritarian abuse are tremendous. Political protesters arrested for minor offenses could have hate-crime enhancements thrown at them. Any act of civil disobedience would immediately become a hate crime…Are there people out there who really think this is desirable, making crimes of political passion especially heinous?”

As the Sun observes, destruction of political signs during elections is fairly common. To classify every act in which a sign is damaged as a hate crime, with increased penalties, is absurd on its face. And that doesn’t address the irony of police unilaterally declaring supporters of Donald Trump, a man who ran the most overtly racist campaign since George Wallace, a vulnerable group.

“Expressing support for Donald Trump does not make you a member of a protected class, nor does opposing him make you an anti-white, anti-Christian bigot,” the Sun notes. “There have been plenty of real hate crimes committed since the election that have given people reason to fear for their safety based on their race, ethnicity or religion. This wasn’t one of them.”

The Hill reports that both girls have been released on a $20,000 bond. The fire is estimated to have caused $800 in damage. The Trump sign, which was barely burned, remains posted.

Chicago men charged with trying to join Islamic State after FBI sting

CHICAGO — Two suburban Chicago men who posed for photos holding a black Islamic State group flag at a Lake Michigan beach park were arrested Wednesday on federal terrorist charges, and an undercover operative said one of the men suggested homosexuals should be thrown off the city’s tallest building.

An FBI sting begun in 2015 compiled evidence that Joseph D. Jones and Edward Schimenti sought to provide material support to Islamic State, including by provided cellphones to one person working for the FBI and posing as an IS supporter believing the phones would be used to detonate car bombs in Syria, the 65-page complaint says.

Jones, a part-time chef who also has been attending college, and Schimenti, who worked at a cancer treatment center, drove the FBI operative to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport last week on what they thought would be the first leg of a journey to Syria. The complaint says Schimenti told him to “drench that land … with blood.”

The 35-year-old men looked tired standing in street clothes with their hands folded behind their backs during a brief initial hearing Wednesday in federal court in Chicago. When Magistrate Judge David Weisman asked if they understood the charges, both answered calmly that they did.

Schimenti’s mother, Joni Schimenti, attended the hearing and told reporters outside court: “Eddie is no terrorist.”

In this undated photo provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joseph D. Jones poses with an Islamic State group flag at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, Ill. (FBI via AP)

If convicted, the two men would face a maximum prison term of 20 years. A detention hearing was set for Monday, after which they would enter pleas.

The complaint includes photos of them holding the IS flag at the Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, where they live. It also has postings on their social media accounts.

While he helped the man he believed would go to Syria get into condition at a local gym, Schimenti conceded he wasn’t close to fighting shape, the complaint says. “I’m all big, fat,” he is quoted as saying. “But (God willing), the brothers will just have me be the one to cut the neck.”

Schimenti, who also went by “Abdul Wali,” allegedly told one person in on the sting in February that he was angry about a co-worker because the person was gay. Under Islamic Law, Schimenti was quoted as saying, “We are putting you (homosexuals) on top of Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) and we drop you.”

A photo posted on Schimenti’s Google Plus profile shows a masked man holding a knife, and caption written in capital letters says that if you can’t travel abroad to fight, “then slaughter the pagans next to you.” After watching an IS video of captured soldiers being burned alive as they spoke a language he didn’t understand, Schimenti says, “I don’t know what they’re saying but I love it,” the complaint says.

A video was posted on Jones’ Google Plus profile entitled, “Some of the Deadly Stabbing Ways: Do not Forget to Poison the Knife,” the complaint says. Another time, a person in on the FBI sting asked Jones if he ever thought about traveling to Syria to live in Islamic State territory. Jones, who was also known as “Yusuf Abdulhaqq,” allegedly answered: “Every night and day.”

This is the latest of several area cases related to Islamic State. A Chicago federal judge last year sentenced former Illinois National Guard Hasan Edmonds to 30 years in prison and his cousin, Jonas Edmonds, to 21 years for plotting to join Islamic State fighters and to attack a National Guard armory just outside Chicago.

The complaint makes a brief reference to Schimenti allegedly suggesting in March that the Naval Station Great Lakes, a training ground for US sailors just south of Zion, could be a terrorist target.

The sting started in September 2015 when an undercover agent approached Jones at the Zion Police Department — where Jones was being questioned about the killing of one of his friends — and the two began talking about Islam. The complaint didn’t offer details about the killing.

Schimenti grew increasingly suspicious about the undercover agents, suggesting that at least some weren’t actually Islamic State sympathizers. He once suggested something was “fishy” about them, adding that he had a good sense of such things because of his own criminal history. Jones also spoke about past convictions.

Two Jews charged with hate crime for attack on Arab teacher outside AIPAC conference



WASHINGTON — Two men have been charged with a hate crime for an assault on an Arab teacher allegedly carried out by members of the Jewish Defense League outside this week’s AIPAC conference in Washington, DC.

The report released Thursday by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia listed Kamal Nayfeh as the victim.

972 Magazine, which reported Thursday on the attack, said that Nayfeh, 55, is an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. According to the North Carolina school’s website, Nayfeh has taught networking technology there for 16 years.

Nayfeh, a Palestinian-American father of four, was visiting his daughter Danya, a student at Georgetown University in Washington at the time, 972 reported.

“They beat him after they heard he was Palestinian. He was not threatening at all. It’s perfectly clear that my father was brutalized simply because of who he is,” Dayna Nayfeh said.

The alleged assailants are not named in the police report, but a police spokeswoman identified them as Yosef Steynovitz, 32, of Canada, who was charged with assault with significant bodily injury, and Rami Lubranicki, 59, of Howell, New Jersey, who was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

In both instances, “suspected hate crime” based on “anti-Arab” bias was added as a charge. Hate crimes, if added to a conviction, automatically increase penalties.

According to the police report, Nayfeh said he got into a “verbal altercation” with Steynovitz, who then punched Nayfeh “about the face area.” Nayfeh fell to the ground, according to the report, and Lubranicki kicked him in his side and hit him in the right eye with a wooden pole.

Ben White, a freelance journalist, posted a photo of Nayfeh’s injuries.

55-year-old Palestinian-American professor Kamal Nayfeh was brutally beaten outside AIPAC conference https://twitter.com/theIMEU/status/847145808051032064 

The JTA reached out through LinkedIn to Steynovitz and Lubranicki for comment on the charges; they did not reply.

In 2015, Lubranicki appeared on The Glazov Group, a conservative news channel on YouTube, as the founder of American Bikers United Against Jihad. He identified himself as an Israeli-born Jewish American.

Some 500 to 600 activists heeded a call by IfNotNow, the Jewish anti-establishment group, to protest this week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, which drew 18,000 attendees. Several dozen counterprotesters bearing T-shirts and flags identified with the Jewish Defense League also appeared, and there were several clashes between the two groups.

Meir Weinstein, who reportedly is the national director of the Canadian JDL, in a video released on Facebook said that individuals affiliated with the group acted only in self-defense. Weinstein alleged that videos of the incident were “selectively spliced.”

“We’re going to be releasing a lot more information to put everything into context,” he said.

The Jewish Defense League was founded in New York by the ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1968. In 2001 the FBI labeled it a violent “right-wing terrorist group.”