Pakistan Detains 5 Americans in Raid Tied to Militants
by Steven Emerson
Interview on FOX News
December 10, 2009
Multimedia for this item
BILL HEMMER: So now we have this story, five young American Muslims calling Washington, DC area their home. They're under arrest now in Pakistan, swept up in a raid on a house linked to a militant group that goes back years; the group does. The case raising new fears that the recruiting ground for radical jihadists has shifted. Was this radicalization in our nation's capitol? Steve Emerson's my guest now. He's the Director of the InvestigativeProject.org. Steve, good morning to you. How is it-
STEVE EMERSON: Good Morning.
HEMMER: How is it that the United States is now emerging as a breeding ground for terrorists?
EMERSON: Well you know Bill, the warning signs were manifest three years ago in a Pew Poll of American Muslims when it was revealed that a third of American Muslims between the ages 18 and 29 supported suicide bombings and that primarily- That radicalization we should have picked up on but we didn't, has suddenly spawned dozens of plots that are homegrown of second generation American Muslims who want to carry out jihad or plan to carry out jihad, either here or abroad. This year alone, we've seen nine such plots. So Bill, it should not be surprising that this is occurring. What is surprising is the extent to which it has occurred so rapidly on American soil. We've become Europeanized.
HEMMER: You're sitting there with the Capitol Building behind you. These men came from you area, from our nation's capitol. They had US passports, what did these guys do? At least one of them was going to Howard University. Did they fire up the computer and take in all the noise of jihad?
EMERSON: We don't really know what exactly was the motivating force behind their recruitment. It could have been local Islamic leaders, it could have been the mosque they attended, it could have been the internet as you pointed out. Certainly the Fort Hood shooter was radicalized Anwar Alawki, the Yemeni cleric connected to 9/11. There are multiple forces that are generating a narrative and that narrative is that there is a war against Islam. That is the single most compelling component in recruiting jihadists on American soil; particularly the young Muslim men.
HEMMER: Here's where it gets tricky. The families reported them missing.
HEMMER: It wasn't an agency that caught them. The families reported them missing, they track them down in Pakistan. That's how this alleged plot was uncovered, Steve.
EMERSON: Right and usually the FBI has been successful in interrupting such plots, particularly when there is a conspiracy where two or more people are involved. When it's a single shooter like Fort Hood, its almost impossible to stop. But here, we also know that one of the men, his father was connected to Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Islamic terrorist group based in Pakistan that was actually connected to Al Qaeda. And he may have been involved in the recruitment of his son and the other four colleagues.
HEMMER: Oh, that's interesting Jaish-e-Mohammed, by the way, they're connected to the killing of Danny Pearl back in 2002.
HEMMER: That's the same group about 100 miles south of Islamabad. Do we know much about what these men were trying to accomplish? Why did they go to Pakistan? What was the alleged plot? Do we have facts on that?
EMERSON: We really don't at this point. Presumably, Pakistani authorities will have more and the FBI will have more once they examine the computers and email accounts of these young men.
HEMMER: But the families have already said that they saw some video where they swore to Jihad.
EMERSON: Right. Look, I have no doubt that they were involved in trying to append themselves to a jihadi movement, Jaish-e-Muhammed, and either carrying out a terrorist attack or providing material support. I don't think there is any doubt about that based on the farewell video that one of them left. Basically a jihadist farewell video. So I think that is definitely the purpose of why they left. The question is what exactly were they up to and we don't know that yet. We won't know that until the Pakistani authorities interrogate them or transfer them back to the United States for prosecution.
HEMMER: All it takes is one to slip through. Let's hope that's not the case. Major Hasan, some argue may have been the first one. Homegrown, an American citizen, which is what Al Qaeda wants. Steve Emerson, thank you, out of Washington today.
EMERSON: You're welcome.