A 20-year-old community college student from Acampo, California, was arrested on March 17th for attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), a terrorist group formerly affiliated with Al Qaeda. His alleged activities prior to his arrest demonstrate the dangerous influence of English-language online propaganda that is being distributed by terrorist organizations.
The student, Nicholas Teausant, reportedly accessed a variety of online terrorist propaganda including issues of Inspire magazine, an English-language publication produced by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and its companion “Mujahid Pocketbook,” which contains a compilation of articles designed as a “how-to guide for becoming a lone wolf terrorist.”
Teausant also broadcast his views over social media. In a Facebook post dated March 9, 2014, he asserted “the people you call terrorist aren’t really terrorist (sic) they are just doing what your to (sic) afraid to do, the government fears these people and that’s why they are called terrorist.” He also posted messages about carrying concealed weapons in public.
On the photo-sharing service Instagram, Teausant allegedly wrote, “Don’t get me wrong I despise America and want its down fall…I would love to join Allah’s army.”
According to the criminal complaint, Teausant discussed bombing the Los Angeles subway system and purchasing fireworks and explosives prior to his attempt to join ISIS.
Teausant had enlisted in the U.S. army reserves in 2007 – seemingly prior to his attraction to terrorism – but apparently never completed training because he did not meet the academic requirements.
His arrest came the same day as that of Mohammad Hassan Hamdan, a 22-year-old permanent U.S. resident residing in Dearborn, MI, who was arrested for attempting to travel to Syria to join Hezbollah.
Both arrests highlight the continued threat of Americans traveling to join terrorist groups in Syria as the civil war there continues.