FBI interrogates American Muslims (MSNBC, Dec. 11, 2009) – Five American Muslims accused of using the Internet to organize a plot to attack U.S. military forces in Afghanistan are interrogated by the FBI. (02:10)
By Mary Beth Sheridan and Spencer S. Hsu
December 12, 2009
A spike in terrorism cases involving U.S. citizens is challenging long-held assumptions that Muslims in Europe are more susceptible to radicalization than their better-assimilated counterparts in the United States.
Four investigations disclosed in the past 12 months, including the arrests of five Northern Virginia men in Pakistan this week, underscore what the Obama administration asserts is a domestic threat emanating from Americans training overseas with al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups in Pakistan. “We have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror,” President Obama said this month in announcing plans to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. …
Several U.S. and international terrorism analysts say that American Muslims, as a group, remain more prosperous, assimilated and moderate than those in Europe. But the analysts also note that immigration trends, the global spread of a militant Islamism and controversial actions by the United States and its allies since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks increase the chances that U.S. Muslims could carry out a domestic attack.
“The U.S. is experiencing what countries like the U.K. have gone through several years ago,” said Sajjan Gohel, director of international security at the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a research organization in London. “The worry for the U.S. is there will be a similar blow-back of homegrown terrorism.” …
“As we continue to get enmeshed in these conflicts, it’s naive to think our population is not going to be affected by the global rhetoric surrounding this,” said Christine Fair, a Georgetown University professor specializing in Pakistan.
Worse in Europe?
Still, several analysts said the problem in the United States still appears to be an order of magnitude less than in Europe. For example, British domestic intelligence chiefs warned in 2006 and 2007 of 200 terrorist networks, at least 2,000 individuals who posed a direct security threat and perhaps 2,000 as-yet unknown would-be terrorists.
But just as British authorities identified disenchanted elements among its 800,000-strong Pakistani community, several Pakistani Americans have been detained this fall in cases linked to extremists in Pakistan. At least three of the five Virginia residents were in touch with a Taliban recruiter, according to Pakistani authorities. …
Najibullah Zazi, 24, a Denver airport shuttle driver and U.S. permanent resident who was born in Afghanistan and reared in Pakistan, was charged in September of testing explosives for an attack, possibly in New York.
The cases of radicalization are not limited to Pakistani Americans. In January, Bryant N. Vinas, 26, a Hispanic American convert to Islam, pleaded guilty to receiving training from al-Qaeda in Pakistan last year.
Daniel P. Boyd, a white Muslim convert who lives in North Carolina, was accused this summer of plotting to attack U.S. military personnel at Quantico, and of leading a group of seven men to fight in the Middle East after Israel’s 2006 war with the group Hezbollah.
Last month, U.S. authorities announced the latest of 14 indictments related to the alleged recruiting of more than 20 Somali American youths from Minnesota to join an Islamist insurgency in Somalia. U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces toppled an Islamist government in Somalia in 2006.
Concern about Somalis
Somali Americans are among the youngest, poorest and newest immigrants to the United States, with 60 percent having arrived since 2000 and 51 percent living in poverty.
“We have to look very hard at those who arrived in the last 10 or 15 years,” said Charles Allen, a veteran CIA officer and chief intelligence officer for the Homeland Security Department from 2005 until this year. “We’re having this problem with Somalis, and we’re having it with Pakistanis, and there will be other nations as well.”
U.S. authorities said the American Muslim community is central to countering extremism. In the Minnesota and Virginia cases, parents and community leaders sounded the alarm when the youths disappeared. …
Related reports on this site
Portland Somali Car Bomb Sting (Nov. 27, 2010)
New Post-9/11 Terrorist Strategy (Sept. 22, 2010)
Somali Terror Suspects Indicted (Aug. 7, 2010)
Times Square Taliban Link (May 7, 2010)
New York Bomb Suspect Arrested (May 3, 2010)
Times Square Bomb Plot Suspects (May 2, 2010)
Bomb Scare in Times Square (May 1, 2010)
Afghan-American Admits Role in Terror Plot (Sept. 19, 2009)
FBI Probing Somali Terror Link (March 12, 2009)
Minnesota Somalis Jihad-Bound? (Jan. 26, 2009)
By Griff Witte, Jerry Markon and Shaiq Hussain
December 13, 2009
Pakistani authorities on Saturday were searching for an insurgent figure believed to have aided five Northern Virginia men who allegedly tried to join al-Qaeda, saying the case could help unravel a growing network of terrorist recruiters who scour the Internet for radicalized young men.
Investigators have identified the man, known as Saifullah, as a recruiter for the Pakistani Taliban and said he contacted one of the American men on YouTube, exchanged coded e-mails with the group, invited them to Pakistan and guided them once they arrived.
But the men, all Muslims from the Alexandria area, failed to reach the remote tribal zone that is al-Qaeda’s home because the terrorist network’s commanders thought they were sent by the CIA to infiltrate al-Qaeda — and Saifullah could not convince them otherwise, a Pakistani intelligence official said Saturday. …
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 12, 2008
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (center) with Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski (left), who was responsible for military jails in Iraq.
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Meanwhile, a suicide bomber struck a crowded restaurant near the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk where Kurdish officials were meeting with Arab tribal leaders, killing at least 55 people and wounding about 120 in the deadliest attack in Iraq in nearly six months.
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