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Profile: Moeed Abdul Salam

Moeed Abdul Salam, a little-known American terror propagandist, was killed in Pakistan during the course of a raid on his apartment by Pakistani troops less than two months after Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Al-Awlaki and Khan, both American citizens, sought to radicalize and recruit westerners online. Similarly, Abdul Salam, a naturalized American citizen who grew up in Texas, produced and translated terrorist propaganda for Al Qaeda and other militant organizations while living in Pakistan prior to his death. U.S. and Pakistani intelligence have alleged that Abdul Salam also served as a key liaison between different terrorist factions and took an active role in directing some terrorist attacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Motivation

While little is known about how Abdul Salam became drawn to militant Islamic ideology, a eulogy by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), an umbrella orga­ni­za­tion with which he was affiliated that dis­trib­utes videos, lit­er­a­ture and other mes­sages for Al Qaeda and other ter­ror­ist groups, says that he decided to dedicate "his life to the support of Jihad and thwarting the oppression and aggression against the Islamic Ummah" after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The eulogy goes on to state that Abdul Salam, who produced terrorist propaganda for GIMF, "sought to terrorize the enemies of Allah…so as to fulfill the promise of Allah to the Mujahideen and defeat their enemies and grant victory to the religion of Allah."

Online Activity

Upon moving to Saudi Arabia in 2003, Abdul Salam reportedly worked in some capacity on various apparently non-extremist websites. At some point during his time in Saudi Arabia, according to the GIMF eulogy, he also began providing "media services" to the mujahideen.

After moving to Pakistan in 2008 and working with GIMF, he founded the al-Qadisiyya Foundation for Media Production, which translated jihadist messages into South Asian languages. One jihadist web forum claimed that he was one of their moderators.

The GIMF eulogy describes his online role leading "Jihadi forums and websites of splendor" as an extension of its effort to attack "the strongholds of arrogance and infidelity, weakening the determination of its troops, and sabotaging their great media plans."

Prior to his death, his Facebook page included images of Anwar al-Awlaki beside a burning American flag.

Links to Extremists

Abdul Salam met with Atiyah Abdul-Rahman, a key Al Qaeda leader and ideologue, who was killed in a drone strike in August 2011, according to another eulogy, apparently written by one of Abdul Salam's colleagues. Abdul-Rahman, according to documents recovered from Osama bin Laden's compound, served as a key liaison between bin Laden and other contacts while bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan.  The eulogy did not elaborate on the purpose of the communications between Abdul Salam and Abdul-Rahman.

American counterterrorism officials have alleged Abdul Salam made the transition from propaganda to operational terrorist. Pakistani media reported that he directed several major terrorist attacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. He reportedly served as a link between Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant groups after moving to Pakistan by relaying messages and handling finances and other logistical matters for the groups.

In December 2012 after Abdul Salam was killed, the Pakistani Taliban claimed that it carried out a raid against Pakistani military forces, killing three, in Karachi in retaliation for his death.

Additional Background

Abdul Salam grew up in Texas and attended top tier schools, including a private boarding school in Connecticut and the University of Texas. His mother is the co-chairwoman of a local multicultural outreach foundation and his brother travels the country trying to correct misunderstanding about Islam.

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Highlights

  • Killed – November 19, 2011, in Pakistan
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