12 Nov 2015

ISIS ‘LoneWolfe’ inciting terror found in Ohio

An ISIS supporter encouraging terror online has been arrested; Channel 4 News investigates his path into radicalisation on the blogging site Tumblr.

Terrence Broadway, also known as Terrence McNeil, uses the pseudonym ‘LoneWolfe’ on Twitter and shows his support for the self-styled Islamic State across more than a dozen anonymous social media accounts.

Channel 4 News has learnt that Broadway, aged 23, appears to work in a hospital in Akron, Ohio, and seems to have gone beyond the usual online posturing. He has actively encouraged the murder of current and former soldiers, posting their home addresses online.

The Muslim convert has posted messages advocating jihad against the United States, saying: “I would gladly take part in an attack on this murderous regime and the people.”

As part of an investigation into radicalisation on Tumblr, Channel 4 News has documented Broadway’s journey from a video game and basketball loving American teenager into a hardline ISIS supporter.

Islamic State hackers

Broadway has been posting messages in support of the Islamic State for more than a year now — but recently his posturing has moved towards more specific threats. He did this anonymously, with his social media account stating only that he was in “Northeast US.”

Last month he posted to Tumblr, a blogging site popular with young people, dozens of home addresses that he claimed belonged to US servicemen.

The details had been initially published by Islamic State’s hacking division, who said that they “decided to leak 100 addresses so that our brothers residing in American can deal with you.”

The Pentagon was forced to warn those people that their details had been made public.

Later that month he encouraged ISIS supporters to kill Robert O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who says that he killed Osama Bin Laden.

Again he reposted the address – using information he copied from elsewhere, after authorities had tried to remove the information from public view.

This time Broadway added to the information a threat encouraging fellow jihadists to take action: “March fourth [sic], ISIS … don’t let this [unbeliever] sleep peacefully.”

He regularly stated on his anonymous blog that if he was honest about what he wanted to do with his life, and where he wanted to live, that he would be arrested. This was despite the fact that some of his own pictures were interspersed with jihadist material.

These and other pieces of information contained enough clues for Channel 4 News to trace him to the hospital where he says he works – and to link him to his other social media accounts.

“I’ll be proud when I sled American blood”

In fact, Broadway has also posted jihadist messages under social media accounts in his own name.

Last year he wrote on his Facebook account: “Somebody should park a car bomb in front of a church, school or mall.” He also posted a message stating: “I’ll be proud when I sled [slayed] American blood.”

Mixed in with this is a very different persona — that of a hospital employee who dreams of becoming a surgeon.

In September Broadway posted a selfie inside an operating theatre, wearing hospital scrubs.

He wrote also recently: “The ER is so boring on weekends, at least yesterday there was three traumas within 20 minutes,” along with pictures inside and outside the hospital.

And his previous social media presence much more closely resembled that of an ordinary teenager — topics had included video games and basketball as well as pornographic images.

The changing nature of his posts — some anonymous, and some in his own name — mirrors his path to radicalisation.

The path of the LoneWolfe

Looking at the archive of seven years of his posts across Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, the rapid changes are clear in Terrence Broadway’s posts.

In 2010 he seemed to be a very different person, posting about atheism, copying a post that read “I h8 religion.” At the time he appears to have been living in Peekskill, New York. He went to high school nearby, before moving to Ohio with family.

In occasional text posts on Tumblr he talked about drugs, alcohol and a “relapse” due to an unnamed “addiction”.

Something changed in this normal teenager’s life. He started posting Islamist images on Facebook as he followed the Syrian civil war, imagery and content that became increasingly extremist.

On Tumblr, the change towards extremist content happened over a few short months. The more typical content overlapped with the postings of increasingly radical images at the end of last year.
He would regular post images glamourising the fighting in Syria, pictures of weapons, and reposting ISIS propaganda suggesting that shops in areas controlled by the jihadist group were well stocked and the people happy.

This material is contradicted by independent information provided by those who have escaped and told of horrific treatment of the local population by ISIS militants, and the misery of living in areas under its control.

These sort of posts he made were widely transmitted. And while his Twitter accounts were frequently suspended, presumably for posting extremist content, he was able to quickly set new ones up that managed to gather hundreds of new followers in hours – indicating that he was building up something of a following.

British connection

Terrence also posted dozens of YouTube lectures to his blog, most by radical British preachers.

He said on his blog that he stayed up late at night watching these sort of lectures “every night”, many of which sought to justify the establishment of a caliphate and explain why ISIS’s interpretation of the Koran is the one true version.

Some of these British people are currently facing allegations relating to encouraging support of Islamic State.

He posted images of 18 preachers who he thought imparted the word of God; six of these were British, by far the best-represented nation.

He is likely to have obtained the information relating to US service personnel from a female British ISIS supporter in Syria known as Umm Hussain al Britaniya, whose husband was reportedly recently killed in an American drone strike.

“Homicidal thoughts”

At various points he indicates that he could one day cross the line from posting messages in support of the jihadist group into action.

He wrote that he was “having too many homicidal thoughts” earlier this year and changed the background of his phone to read “unless you repent our swords will chop off your heads.”

And in one blog post, in a mixture of Arabic and English, he posted a question: “Hijrah from dar al kufr to dar al islam or jihad in dar al kufr” … migrate to Syria or carry out jihad in the United States.

US authorities are understood to be aware of his postings. Broadway himself declined to comment.