NBC10 Investigators: Homegrown Terrorism in Pennsylvania and NJ - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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NBC10 Investigators: Homegrown Terrorism in Pennsylvania and NJ

The NBC10 Investigators take a look at recent cases of homegrown terrorism in our region.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The NBC10 Investigators takes a look at how terrorist organizations are recruiting members in America, including some in our area. NBC10's George Spencer has the details.

    (Published Thursday, May 4, 2017)

    Ronald Archer remembers his grandson Edward as a good kid, a sports fan, living in West Philadelphia.

    Eddie, as he was known, grew up in a Baptist family.  He had a high school sweetheart and seemed like an all-American kid.

    But his grandfather says something changed when Eddie convert to Islam.

    The older Archer tells us he told his grandson, “If that’s what you want to be, a Muslim, I support you. But as far as getting way, way deep into where you want to do things like, bomb things and kill people, I don’t understand that.”

    But police say on January 7, 2016 Eddie Archer walked up to Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett’s police cruiser and fired shots. Hartnett was hit multiple times but was able to give chase. Archer was arrested one block away. Authorities say he did it in the name of ISIS.

    Archer is one of six cases of accused homegrown terrorism in Pennsylvania and South Jersey. While these cases may look isolated, experts say they may be virtually connected.

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    Sophisticated online recruiting is now allowing terror groups to attract homegrown extremists. NBC10 Investigative Reporter George Spencer shows us how investigators track them down.

    (Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017)

    Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens with George Washington University's program on extremism mapped a network of home-grown terror suspects and the ISIS recruiters they had contacted. He called them “virtual entrepreneurs.”

    They radicalized them through online propaganda, accessible on any computer or phone in any American home.

    These include Philly-born Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem. He is accused of providing weapons for terrorists in a Texas attack. Kareem is serving 30-years in prison.

    Another is Harrisburg-native Jalil Aziz, who allegedly helped would-be terrorists travel overseas to join ISIS. Aziz pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

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    Experts say ISIS is radicalizing people who were born in the United States or immigrated to the United States years ago. NBC10 Investigative Reporter George Spencer shows us how the Philadelphia region fits into the War on Terror's newest front.

    (Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017)

    Both men, according to Meleagrou-Hitchens, have connections to the same “virtual entrepreneur” in Syria.

    “Aziz was in touch via twitter," Meleagrou-Hitchens said.

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    The NBC10 Investigators are connecting the dots to show us about the new front line of terrorism in our area. NBC10’s Investigators reporter George Spencer gives the details about homegrown extremists. CLICK HERE for a Terror Threat Map.

     

     

    (Published Wednesday, May 3, 2017)

    Keonna Thomas, the so-called “young lioness” from North Philadelphia was plugged in too.  Thomas was communicating with a top ISIS “virtual entrepreneur” before making plans to leave her children and fight with ISIS.  She was arrested and charged before she could leave the United States.  Thomas pleaded guilty and will be sentenced this month. 

    The ISIS recruits in a virtual network, usually encrypted, working across our physical borders to target Americans who feel marginalized.

    “They are not happy about their lives – and this ideology is offering them explanations. It’s offering them a diagnosis for their problems,” Meleagrou-Hitchens said.
     
    When Ronald Archer thinks of his grandson, he remembers him being "bright, smart. Nothing like he got into like that.”

    He said aside from his grandson’s religious fervor, no behavior or friendships seemed unusual.
     
    But since the January 2016 attack, he’s acknowledged there may be more he never knew.
     
    “Well, I wouldn’t believe it," Archer said. "But if he did that, I wouldn’t know what to believe about him."