In New York City, three police officers were attacked by a man yelling “Allahu Akbar,” which means God is greatest in Arabic and is frequently used as a battle cry by jihadists. The perpetrator captured at the scene was Dzenan Camovic, a Muslim immigrant from the Balkans. According to surveillance video, Camovic attacked two police officers from behind, stabbing one in the neck, before being shot and subdued in a struggle where two other police officers were also shot. According to law enforcement sources Camovic had recently shared anti-police sentiment on social media. NYPD intelligence says the attack is consistent with terrorism but has not announced any connection to known groups.
This is not the first case where what may be a jihadist attack took place amidst a larger anti-police Black Lives Matter narrative being pushed by the radical left. Following protests in Ferguson, MO in response to the death of Michael Brown, Islamist groups played a public role in organizing and spreading propaganda. Multiple incidents targeting police involved individuals with Islamist links, like Zale Thompson, Jaleel Abdul-Jabbar, and Ismaaiyl Brinsley.
Thompson, who had ties to the New Black Panther party which had been instrumental in organizing violent protests in Ferguson MO, attacked NYPD officers with a hatchet. Thompson’s social media showed support for Jamil Abdullah Amin, also known as former Black Panther leader H. Rap Brown. Amin, leader of the African American Islamist separatist group known as “The Ummah,” is in prison for murdering one sheriff’s deputy and wounding another.
Abdul-Jabbar was arrested for threatening Ferguson Police Officers on social media and followed a Philadelphia African American Islamist group on Facebook.
Brinsley shot and killed two NYPD officers before committing suicide. Brinsley was identified as having ties with the African American prison gang The Black Guerilla Family, and for being motivated to take revenge for perceived police brutality. Additionally, he was reported to have attended Al-Farooq Mosque, a New York City mosque with a long track record of jihadist ties.
Jihadists abroad have also taken interest in the recent upheaval. In a recent Al Qaeda publication labeled One Ummah, Al Qaeda propagandists argue that the civil unrest represents a weakened and faltering U.S., and recommend supporters read both Al Qaeda materials as well as Malcom X to prepare to take advantage. Malcom X has been a long time favorite of Islamists, with domestic Islamist groups like the Islamic Circle of North American and Muslim American Society recommending such materials in educating their members.
As the situation progresses, law enforcement should expect to continue to see overlap between a variety of ideological motivations supporting violence against police. For jihadists’ violence against police during this time both achieves a goal in and of itself, but also helps to continue to prolong the sense of instability.