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Pennsylvania Man Charged with Inciting Terrorism

A 21-year-old Pennsylvania man has been indicted on terror-related charges for allegedly using the Internet to encourage violence against Americans.

Emerson Winfield Begolly, of New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was charged on July 14, 2011, with soliciting crimes of violence, including acts of terrorism, and with posting bomb-making materials online.

Begolly had been arrested on January 4, 2011, and charged the next day with assaulting FBI agents and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. After two FBI agents approached Begolly, he allegedly reached for a concealed loaded gun in his jacket and bit both FBI officers, drawing blood.

Begolly had been an active member of several jihadist forums, where he posted comments and various multimedia. He identified himself as a Muslim in his posts and pontificated on a range of issues, often praising acts of violence and expressing his "desire to be a martyr." Many of his messages were explicitly anti-Semitic, calling for the death of all Jews. According to the FBI, he even indicated that his own mother would burn because she is not Muslim.

As a moderator on the Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF), a popular jihadist forum where members post and exchange extremist propaganda, media, publications, information and news, Begolly posted comments calling for attacks on U.S. targets, "such as police stations, post offices, synagogues, military facilities, train lines, bridges, cell phone towers and water plants," as well as "civilian planes, financial institutions… Jewish schools, and daycare centers."

In another post, he wrote, "Let your voice speak forever, write your autobiography with blood."

In December 2010, writing under one of his pseudonyms, Begolly posted a 101-page instruction manual on bomb-making. He also posted security and operational warnings, instructing his readers to maintain their anonymity when downloading the manual by not saving it to their computers.

The government's evidence against Begolly includes photos recovered from his computer, one of which shows him dressed in camouflage, holding a grenade and wearing a Shahada (Islamic declaration of faith) head band. Begolly previously posted several pictures of himself on his MySpace page dressed as a Nazi.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Neil McBride, asserted that the allegations against Begolly "demonstrate how young people in the United States can become influenced by – and eventually participate in – jihadist propaganda that is a serious threat to the safety of us all."

Begolly faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the new charges, and life imprisonment if convicted of the earlier charges.

Online Presence

Begolly, who was active on several jihadist forums, used various aliases online, including Asadullah Alshishani, Abu Nancy, Goat Lee and Goatly. Begolly also communicated with others by instant message. Some of these conversations, which Federal investigators were able to recover, demonstrate Begolly's militancy and bigotry.

During the recovered conversations, Begolly said "if america were not at war with islam i would not hate it but i am angry." He said that if he were to "act now," he would "go down like [Oklahoma City bomber Timothy] McVeigh" and asked "have you ever considered shooting up ur schooling and taking revenge on those who wronged u?" He also said "most brothers objected to targeting kids but the reason i am for it is because first they r easy targets and second because the public will want a reaction…plz dont think im a psycho ;)."

Some of Begolly's forum posts were praised online by other extremists, including Zachary Chesser. Chesser himself had an extensive online history before he was arrested in July 2010 for attempting to travel to Somalia and join the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al Shabaab.

Many of Begolly's most popular messages took the form of nasheeds (Islamic songs), which were circulated by others on various jihadist forums. For example, a moderator of the Al Shabaab affiliated Al Qimmah forum described Begolly as "The Nasheed Master" and dedicated an English translation of an Urdu language nasheed specifically to him.

Below is a sampling of nasheeds and poetry Begolly wrote and recorded:

  • A nasheed in honor of Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, an Iraqi man who carried out a suicide attack in Sweden in December 2010, was posted on Al Shumukh, an Al Qaeda-linked message board. The lyrics of the chorus read, "Grab my gun and my ammo, Strap my kamarband onto my chest, Get dressed up in my camo, Martyrdom is what I wanted best."
  • In a nasheed praising Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Begolly sang to bin Laden, "You fight AmeriKKKa, And terrorize the Jews, You slay the murtadeen [apostates], And blow up the Hindus."
  • In response to the Israeli naval operation to stop a flotilla of ships en route to Gaza in May 2010, Begolly wrote and recorded a nasheed in tribute to the "Activists Who were Martyred, Wounded, and Imprisoned at the Hands of the Zionist Pigs." The song, which is entitled "When the Jew's blood reds my knife, then my life is free from strife," was posted on the Ansar Web site in June and threatens to "throw them [the Jews] in the ovens" and to "shoot and kill Jews one by one."
  • A nasheed titled "A Tribute to the Self-Sacrificing Mujahideen" was posted on the official Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades message board. In the nasheed, which discussed the feeling of leaving home to join the mujahideen, Begolly sang "I desire to be a martyr."
  • In a nasheed in tribute to Al Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Begolly sang "And I pray, For the day, O that day, When I'm killed as a Fidaye [commando]." The nasheed was posted on Al Qimmah, an Al Shabaab-linked message board.
  • On the Al Shabaab linked Al-Qimmah forum, Begolly posted an hour-long tape of nasheeds and stories from the "Jihad in Bosnia."
  • In a tribute to Abu Umar al-Baghdadi (believed to be Hamid Dawud Muhammad Khalil al-Zawi) and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (better known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri), both key members of Al Qaeda in Iraq who were killed in 2010, Begolly wrote "Like lions you hunted the kuffar and killed them, and like poachers they slaughtered you But the lion cubs of Tawhid shall not remian silent, and the day of revenge is coming So we gnash our teeth, hungry for vengence, hungry for the flesh and blood of our enemies." He concludes: "Asadullah Alshishani writes these words with tears in his eyes wishing he had fallen beside you." This poem was posted on Islamic Board by a sympathizer.

Below are excerpts from Begolly's comments to the Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum:

  • "Peaceful protests do not work. The kuffar [infidels] see war as solution to their problems, so we must see war as the solution to our[s]. No peace. But bullets, bombs and martyrdom operations."
  • There is only one life, let it be spend in the service of Allah. And there is only one death, let it be for the sake of Allah."
  • "Who are the best targets? Off duty police, off duty soldiers, gang member, family members of soldiers, government agents, workers at ammunition factory, white supremacists or black supremacists. It is best if targeting soldiers or police that they are off duty and out of uniform simply because they investigations will look usually for 'robbery gone wrong' or 'revenge' then as act of terrorism of revolt."
  • "A successful lone-wolf attack, when even kills 1 or 2 or 3 of the kuffar [infidels] is BETTER THAN an[] UNSUCCESSFUL massive attack which also results in your own arrest…"
  • "Allahs commands us to fight the kuffar as they have fought us. Remember 9/11, 7/7, Madrid and Beslan."
  • "Let your voice speak forever, write your autobiography with blood"
  • "Why terrorize the average Americans? BECAUSE ALLAH COMMANDS US TO TERRORIZE THEM. They terrorize us. Let the[m] wake up to the horrors of war and the reality of death that they would otherwise not ever know just sitting at home stuffing their fat faces watching TV."
  • "Our religion tells us, and example has shown to us, YES to is halal [permissible] to deliberately target civilians in Jihadi operations carried out in Dar-ul-Kuffar [land of the infidels]."
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UPDATE

August 9, 2011

Begolly pleaded guilty to solicitation of acts of terrorism and weapons charges.

Begolly posted comments calling for attacks on U.S. targets, "such as police stations, post offices, synagogues, military facilities, train lines, bridges, cell phone towers and water plants," as well as "civilian planes, financial institutions… Jewish schools, and daycare centers."

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