In the same week that the terrorist attack at a Christmas Market in Berlin by ISIS-sympathizer Anis Amri, who was shot dead in Milan and who had pledged allegiance to ISIS in a video, took place the Arizona Joint Terrorism Taskforce in Phoenix arrested a man who was plotting a lone wolf terrorist attack.
The man was originally identified as Derrick Thompson but he also goes by the name Abu Talib Al-Amriki. ABC 15 reports that Al-Amriki made several Google searches in October including midnight mass, martyrdom vs suicide and which type of gun is the most powerful. Also in October, he posted a message on his Google+ account which made clear his allegiance to ISIS.
“We need to get down with this ISIS S***.”
Al-Amriki had obviously been planning for his terrorist attack in the name of ISIS for quite some time. In January 2015, he attempted to purchase a gun from backpage.com to use in his attack. He is not legally allowed to possess a gun since he is a convicted felon.
He was released from prison in January 2013 after serving seven years for a 2005 armed robbery.
According to investigators, Al-Amriki has been a devout and “avowed jihadist” since 2014. In addition to search terms which indicated he was planning a terrorist attack, investigators also discovered he conducted hundreds of Google searches on handguns, crossbows, scopes and rifles.
Raised in Arizona, Al-Amriki would likely be considered a homegrown, self-radicalized terrorist. As of this writing, there are no indications of specific threats by Al-Amriki. He is being held in a local jail and will be charged in state court.
This is not the first time a terrorist attack associated with an Arizona resident has been thwarted. In July 2016, 18-year-old Mahin Khan was arrested “on suspicion of conspiring to launch acts of terrorism against government buildings in Maricopa and Pima counties.” Khan had also reached out to a known terrorist organization, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to ask for help with a pressure cooker bomb recipe.
Khan entered a guilty plea on terrorism charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Incidentally, pressure cooker bomb was also used by Muslim terrorists, the Chechen refugee Tsarnaev brothers, in the Boston Marathon bombing. Three people were killed during the terrorist attack and 264 were injured. Two officers were killed and 19 injured in connection with the terrorist brothers as well.
The two Muslim men who attempted a terrorist attack at the “Draw Mohammad” event in Garland, Texas in May 2015 were also from Phoenix. The men, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, were roommates. They were shot dead by quick acting Texas police officers before they could carry out their planned attack. They had also linked themselves to ISIS via social media posts.