Alarming rise of home grown jihadis in the US

Last Updated: Monday, November 2, 2009 - 16:09

Washington: The recent arrest of US citizen David Coleman Headley on charges of plotting a major terrorist attack in India and Denmark reflects an alarming rise in home grown jihadi activities in the country with number of them being trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Since the Mumbai terror attack, several US officials and think tanks - officially, at various Congressional hearing and public statements – have feared that home grown jihadis, indoctrinated by fundamentalist ideologies of organisations like al Qaeda, are on the rise and the United States needs to be doubly alert.

The series of arrests made by the FBI in the last couple of months have raised alarm bells in the country as there is an increase in the number of American citizens being part of the global al Qaeda terrorist network.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman Joe Lieberman had earlier said, "These cases realise our worst fears about home-grown Islamist terrorist attacks in America and in some respects our best hopes for how the government will defend us from them."

In October, four terror plots, including the one being planned by Headley at the behest of LeT in India, have been busted by the FBI and there have been dozens of other crimes, which is now being directly linked to jihadis in the US.

HSGA Committee member Susan Collins had said during the hearing, "Recent cases drive home the reality of this threat. Four separate terrorist plots were uncovered in the past month alone. Disturbingly, the perpetrators in these recent cases are mostly home-grown terrorists."

The plots reflect the success of al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations based in the Af-Pak region to recruit and carry out attacks through them both in the US and abroad.

Pakistan-born US national David Coleman Headley was arrested by the FBI along with his friend – a Pakistani-Canadian residing in Chicago – on charges of allegedly plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper, whose publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed caused outrage in the Muslim world.

On October 21, one Tarek Mehanna was arrested in Boston for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. He has been indicted for plotting terrorist attacks at home and abroad.

Mehanna, along with Ahmad Abousamra, plotted to kill US civilians, soldiers serving in Iraq, and two members of the US executive branch. Like Headley, Abousamra too had travelled to Pakistan and is learnt to have received training from the terrorist training camps there.

A week later on October 28, Indian national Patrick Nayyar, living illegally in New York, and Stanisclaus Mulholland were indicted on four counts of attempting to provide material support to Hezbollah. Mulholland is yet to be arrested.

The same day, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, leader of a mosque who headed Islamic movement in Detroit called Ummah, was killed after opening fire on FBI agents. Later the FBI agents raided two locations and apprehended 10 other men on connection with the case.

A month before, there has been news reports of the FBI busting at least three terrorist plots. On September 14, FBI agents raided several locations in Queens, New York City in this regard, though there has no arrests in this case has been publicly reported so far.

On September 22, a federal judge ordered Najibullah Zazi to be held without bail; as his actions roused suspicion after FBI agents discovered bomb-making documents on his computer. During interrogation, Zazi admitted of having received weapons and explosives training in Pakistan. It was later discovered that his ties to al Qaeda went all the way to Mustafa Abu Yazid, head of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Two days later, the FBI arrested two men including a Jordanian national on charges of detonating a car bomb – one in Dallas and other in Illinois.

Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, Jordanian, was arrested on September 14, after attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb, in the garage of a Dallas skyscraper.

Michael Finton or Talib Islam, was arrested by the FBI on September 24 while he was attempting to detonate a car bomb at a federal courthouse in Springfield.

In March, news reports said, at least 20 Minneapolis-based Somali-Americans had travelled back to Somalia fight on behalf of al Qaeda.

Several of them are reported to have returned. In April, federal agents raided money transfer businesses that served the Somali community, in an effort to halt the flow of money from the US to terror groups abroad.

In July, authorities indicted three Somali-Americans for recruiting the 20 men to fight abroad, including one who carried out a suicide attack against the Somali government.

Four men -- James Cromite, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen -- were arrested by authorities in May shortly after planting inactive explosives outside two
New York City synagogues. The men, three Americans and a Haitian, also plotted to shoot down a military plane with surface-to-air missiles.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, November 2, 2009 - 16:09

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