Jihadists in Our Midst

I’ve been following the War on Terror pretty closely ever since 9/11, and it is only by perusing the Counter Terrorism Blog that I realized that a gang of jihadists operated in Virginia. Articles have been written in national media about the “Virginia Jihad Gang”, though never given much prominence. Virginia media have either buried the stories or ignored them altogether. This dates from an April 9, 2004, Associated Press article:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Two American Muslims were sentenced Friday to 20 and 15 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in support of a Virginia-based conspiracy to engage in holy war against nations deemed hostile to Islam, including the United States.

The two men, Randall Todd Royer, 31, and Ibrahim al-Hamdi, 26, were among nine men who either pleaded guilty or were convicted of charges related to their participation in what prosecutors called a “Virginia jihad network.” Two others who faced charges were acquitted on all counts.

The group used paintball games played in the woods near Fredericksburg in 2000 and 2001 as military training in preparation for holy war around the globe. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, some of the members turned their focus against the United States, traveling to Pakistan in the days after the attacks with the goal of joining the Taliban and fighting U.S. troops.

And this from the Sept. 14, 2005, Washington Post, buried on page B-4:

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria unveiled terrorism charges against a Maryland man yesterday, alleging that Ali Asad Chandia helped a foreign terrorist group acquire an electronic autopilot system and video equipment for use on model airplanes.

Chandia, 28, of College Park, is also accused of shipping 50,000 paint balls to the group, Lashkar-i-Taiba, which the U.S. government has designated as a terrorist organization. The group runs terrorist camps in Pakistan and claims to have trained thousands of Islamic “holy warrior” mujahideen to fight in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo and the Philippines.

The charges against Chandia, a legal permanent resident who emigrated from Pakistan in 1994, are an outgrowth of the “Virginia jihad network” case, in which nine Muslim men have been convicted over the past two years of training overseas for holy war against the United States.

Let’s see, Virginia and Maryland have a home-grown network supporting jihadist training camps abroad… Members of this network have conducted paramilitary training in the woods around Fredericksburg in preparation for holy war… and no one is friggin’ curious? HOLY, FRIGGIN’ MOLY! Is there not a really, really big story here?

Some might say, get over it, Bacon, this is yesterday’s news. But I would like to know: Who were these jihadists? How did they get here? What is the reaction of Virginia’s Muslim community? Were they isolated individuals, or were they embedded in a larger culture — like the subway bombers in London — that is hostile to the West? Did they attend mosques? Do Virginia mosques have radical imams spewing anti-Western invective? Surely it is a sign of utter complacency in our society that this story has not attracted more attention.

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8 responses to “Jihadists in Our Midst”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    I believe one of the young men sentenced to long hard prison time last summer was the valedictorian of his Islamic High School in NoVa.

    One common number (of uncertain origin and validity) for the Islamists prouduced by Islam – is 10%. That is bandied in the open press as a world wide per cent.

    A majority of Muslims in the U.K. believe that the U.K. should be under a Sharia-based legal system. If their birthrates and immigration trends continue – and nothing else changes – they will have their wish.

    No idea what per cent of U.S. Muslims (making a distinction between Muslims and Black Muslims) want the U.S. to be under Sharia. Interesting question.

  2. Jim Patrick Avatar
    Jim Patrick

    [mangled the link in my first post]

    The Gates of Vienna is a Virginia blog specifically focussing on Islamo-terrorism and world sharia (islamic rule) as a continuation of an old, old conflict with the violent side of that religion.

    They feature a couple of articles on violent islamic enclaves in Virginia. Look on the left sidebar.

  3. kingfish Avatar

    You describe an enormous cultural problem for us. We certainly ought to expect to protect ourselves, especially at home, from those who would do us harm. On the other hand, we cherish religious freedom as a value in this Country. Do we allow ourselves to become like our enemy to defeat our enemy and compromise our value of freedom of religion? Notwithstanding the President’s claim to the contrary, is democracy compatible with one religion states? Even in the West, democracy did not rise until the Enlightenment had shaken the hold of the Church. Why should we expect it to take root where Islam is the official religion? But what then do we do about Muslims in our midst? Can we somehow declare that theirs is not a religion to which the First Amendment applies? Not without debasing the First Amendment. I confess that I do not have the answer.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Are we going to pass laws that say Muslims can’t play paintball and fly model airplanes?

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Kingfish and Anonymous 3:06, I don’t know of anyone who advocates restricting the rights of Muslims to practice their religion in any way. But I have observed in a previous post that Virginia has a substantial Muslim community (about 300,000, according to my faulty memory), and it is documented that at least a handful of Muslims turned out to be bad actors. For all I know, Virginia Muslims on average may be more law abiding than other Americans, and these guys are in no way representative. But the fact is, I don’t know. I would like to see some in-depth journalism, based on court transcripts and interviews with Virginia Muslims, that explained how these guys became jihadists, and what other Muslims have to say. To fail to ask the question, it strikes me, is wilfull ignorance.

  6. Bubberella Avatar

    Should we also be publishing articles on the law-abiding tendency of other religions and ethnic groups? I’ve always wondered about those Amish — what are they hiding? And suppose a baptist church group should order a bunch of paintballs for a “camp” — how do we know what they’re really up to?

  7. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Bubbarella, If there were young Amish men organizing themselves in bands dedicated to the destruction of the United States, yes, I think it would be a subject worth looking into.

    Let’s take a different example: the white supremacist “militia” movement associated with terrorists like Timothy McVeigh. Do I think it deserves scrutiny? You bet I do. The media, as I recall, wrote a lot about that particular movement — and rightfully so.

    I see no reason to exempt Muslim groups, especially those with documented connections to jihadist organizations. Do you?

  8. Bubberella Avatar

    Mr. Bacon

    I’m not suggesting exempting Jihadists from scrutiny, I’m questioning the examples used — paint guns and model airplanes. I worry about potential terrorists among us, but lately I’m becoming more worried that we’re headed down the road of trashing civil liberties in the name of pre-empting acts of terrorism.

    I’m tempted to raise an eyebrow at any organized group of folk holding paramilitary exercises in the woods with paint guns. Is it fun or training? Probably an element of both for even most innocent users. But it’s legal.

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