JANUARY 20, 2010
While the Obama Administration insists that the nation is not engaged in a war on terror, dozens of American convicts who converted to Islam in prison have joined Al Qaeda in Yemen in the last year, indicating that Muslim extremism is stronger than ever on U.S. soil.
Weeks after counterterrorism officials revealed that the country faces a growing threat from homegrown extremism and accelerated radicalization among American Muslims, a new intelligence report exposes Al Qaeda’s expanded recruitment efforts to attract nontraditional followers capable of carrying out ambitious terrorism plans.
Among the nontraditional followers are at least 36 felons who converted to Islam while incarcerated in the U.S., according to a 21-page report made public this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The ex-cons traveled to Yemen, ostensibly to study Arabic, but disappeared and are believed to have joined Al Qaeda training camps in ungoverned portions of the impoverished country.
This illustrates Al Qaeda’s ability to expand beyond its core members by recruiting non traditional adherents, according to the report, which also points to the highly educated and well-to-do Nigerian who tried blowing up a Detroit-bound commercial jet on Christmas. An Al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen, an Arabian Peninsula in southwest Asia, trained the Nigerian and claimed responsibility for orchestrating the attempted bombing.
The plot was a “nearly catastrophic illustration of a significant new threat from a network previously regarded as a regional danger, rather than an international one," the senate report concludes. It warns of Al Qaeda’s new mission of recruiting Americans living in Yemen, Somalia and within the U.S. Their access to the United States presents a dire national security threat.
Just last month counterterrorism officials determined that a recent flood of Islamic terrorism incidents on U.S. soil made 2009 the most precarious year domestically since the savage 2001 attacks in New York and the Pentagon. Several Americans were arrested for plotting with Al Qaeda, the FBI rounded up viable homegrown terrorists across the nation (including Dallas Texas, Detroit Michigan and Raleigh North Carolina) and diffused plots targeting government buildings and military facilities.
It certainly seems like the U.S. is in fact involved in a “war on terror,” even if President Obama banned the maligned Bush-era phrase shortly after moving into the White House.
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