Skip to comments.Suspects Said to Be Awaiting Order to Attack in U.S.
Posted on 09/14/2002 4:37:54 PM PDT by Pokey78
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 Five Arab-American men charged today with operating an active Al Qaeda terrorist cell in western New York received weapons training in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001 and had been sent back to the United States to await the order for an attack on American targets, federal law enforcement officials said today.
The five suspects, all of them born in the United States and of Yemeni descent, were arraigned today in Buffalo on federal charges of providing "material support" to terrorists. They were arrested on Friday night in raids on their homes and businesses in Lackawanna, a suburb of Buffalo that has a large Yemeni community and where the suspects lived within a few blocks of one another.
The arrests in New York suggest that, for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Justice Department may have detected and shut down an active Qaeda terrorist cell in the United States.
Law enforcement officials in Washington said they had no evidence to suggest that any attack by the group was imminent.
"We have not seen any plans of an imminent attack in western New York or elsewhere in the United States," the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, said in announcing the arrests. But he added, "We do not fully know the intentions of those who are charged today."
Federal officials in Washington said they were tipped to the existence of the cell by two other members of the group, who were cooperating with the authorities.
Those two have said that members of the Lackawanna cell trained together in June 2001 at Al Farouk training camp near Kandahar, law enforcement officials said. The officials said the pair had reported that while they were at the camp, Osama bin Laden had visited, delivering a speech in which he repeated his familiar call for a holy war against the United States and Israel.
At a news conference at the Justice Department, Larry Thompson, deputy attorney general, said that the five men had received training at the camp in the use of "Russian assault rifles, handguns and long-range rifles."
Among the other young Muslim men who trained at Al Farouk in the summer of 2001 was John Walker Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan by American forces late last year and has since pleaded guilty to taking up arms against the United States as a soldier in the Taliban army.
As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Lindh agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department; federal officials would not comment today on whether information provided by Mr. Lindh helped lead investigators to the men arrested in upstate New York.
Mayor John Kuryak of Lackawanna said today that he was informed six months ago that the F.B.I. was conducting an investigation in the city, an old steel town southeast of Buffalo.
"When you first hear about it, you do get that initial shiver," Mr. Kuryak said. "You almost tell yourself, `Not in my backyard, not in my community.' "
But while federal authorities were reported to have had the city's large Yemeni community under scrutiny for several months, federal law enforcement officials in Washington said that the information that led to the arrests was received only in the last several days.
That information, apparently from the two cooperating witnesses, had been among the factors that led to the Bush administration's decision on Sept. 10 to raise the nationwide terrorist alert status to "orange," symbolizing a high risk of a terrorist attack, officials said.
Mr. Thompson cautioned today, however, that "the elevation of our status alert was made after considering a number of factors" and that the discovery of the Lackawanna cell had "not specifically" led to the nationwide warning on Tuesday, the day before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Officials said the initial investigation began on the basis of information from within the Muslim community of Lackawanna and nearby communities in western New York that people loyal to Mr. bin Laden and Al Qaeda might be living among them.
At the news conference in Washington, Mr. Thompson and other officials repeatedly praised the cooperation received from American Muslims in New York and elsewhere in the search for terrorists on American soil.
"I want to thank the Muslim community of Buffalo for their extraordinary cooperation," he said, offering few details on the nature of that cooperation and adding that the arrests "send an unambiguous message that we will crack down on terrorists where they hide."
The five men arrested on Friday were identified as Yahya Goba, Sahim Alwan, Shafal Mosed, Yasein Taher and Faysal Galab.
They were charged with violating a federal statute that makes it a crime to provide "material support" to a designated foreign terrorist organization like Al Qaeda. In this case, the men are charged with providing support in the form of their participation in training at the camp in Afghanistan.
In 1996, when the law was passed, Congress broadly defined material support to include almost anything of value except for medicine or religious materials a list that included the provision of "personnel" or "training" to a foreign terrorist organization.
If convicted, each of the men would face up to 15 years in prison.
The Justice Department's description of the case today suggested that at least one other member of the Lackawanna cell was still at large. According to that account, eight members of the cell the five men under arrest, the two cooperating witnesses, as well as another unidentified man traveled together to Afghanistan last year.
Mr. Thompson hinted that other arrests of members of the cell might be imminent.
"I want to emphasize that the investigation of the Buffalo cell is ongoing," he said. "We are working to develop additional evidence and information about the activities of this cell."
They do have something working against them obviously. It's hard to keep terrorists on the farm once they get a taste of the USofA. Two of their own members turned them in.
Article III.I think they could be charged with treason. That's a capital crime.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
I like it, I like it. We'll eventually root out all these bastards! (Now, will the courts let us kill them?)
I think you done broke the code.
This is like the recipe for perfect toast: Toast it till it burns, and take it out 15 seconds before that.
There may be more terrorist acts, but, with the US and Britain raging, we're seeing just how cowardly these cretins are. They're turning on each other like rats, and nobody knows who to trust.
As for the cells in the United States, now that Americans know that AMERICAN CITIZENS are potential al-Qaeda, Muslims will be under concentrated scrutiny, not only from the FBI, but from ordinary citizens as well.
I'd hate to be a Muslim in America right now. Who knows when there might be a knock at the door?
...and that will turn out to be our best friend.
... Oh, excuse me, did I misquote you? Perhaps I did. And since I did, tell me, how did it feel to read that? And would you prefer that others get the same societal intimidation solely due to religion?
Whether or not authoritarian acts of the State are endorsed here -- and they too often are -- authoritarian mentalities are constantly encouraged, and few seem to perceive how truly unAmerican that is.
As for most of the rest of those posting above, the authorities actually nail someone, or some cell, and all you can do is gripe. Do you actually want this counteroffensive to succeed, or don't you? Make up your minds, at least.
Celebrate diversity! Hmmm...
The strength of a multicultural society! Uh...
Teaching tolerance... Nope. No more.
Fry the bastards.
Let's look at the evidence:
19 Muslims flew planes into buildings on 9/11 (or attempted to)
Five Muslims, all American citizens, were arrested yesterday as members of Al-Qaeda, an organization dedicated to the destruction of America.
A suspected al-Qaeda cell has been infiltrated in Oregon, members of whom are prominent members of a Muslim mosque in Portland.
Substitute "Catholic" for "Muslim" above, and I would fully expect to be scrutinized.
If you have a problem with certain Muslims coming under more intense surveillance, you've obviously forgotten what happened on 9/11.
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