Alleged Would Be Terrorist Thwarted At Every Turn

By Richard Serrano for The Los Angeles Times

Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, according to the FBI, traveled the world in search of jihad. But Pakistan turned him away, and Jordan did too. He tried to get into Somalia, but U.S. authorities placed him on the no-fly list. An American citizen, he visited an army recruiting station in New York’s Times Square hoping to be sent to Iraq; they did not want him either.

So, the FBI said, the 21-year-old born and raised in New York created websites and posted threats of radical Islamic violence, including one from another American expatriate, Anwar al Awlaki. Then Shehadeh flew to Hawaii and allegedly started taking target practice.

FBI agents said he wanted to join a jihadist group to learn “guerilla warfare and bomb-making.” Had he been welcomed into the U.S. army, they said, his plan was to defect in Iraq and turn against his comrades.

Shehadeh’s journeys ended last Friday. He was arrested in Honolulu and accused in a federal criminal complaint, unsealed Monday, of making false statements in an international terrorism case.

For two and a half years federal officials followed his travels, tracked his websites and enlisted help from his grade school friends. On Tuesday they singled him out as someone much like Awlaki — eager to forfeit his U.S. citizenship for a life of jihad.

Florence T. Nakakuni, the U.S. attorney in Hawaii, said the investigation covered “a six-hour time difference and 5,000 miles.” In New York, FBI assistant director Janice K. Fedarcyk said “stopping one prospective terrorist can prevent untold numbers of casualties.”

Shehadeh faces up to eight years in prison. His Hawaiian attorney, Matthew Winter, said he “wants to return as soon as possible to New York and face the charges there.”

He is slightly built, thin and clean-shaven. He does not evoke the image of an angry Islamic radical. But his arrest comes during a heightened alert over threats from homegrown terrorists.

“My brothers of revolutionary Islam, I am with you as long as you keep struggling,” Shehadeh allegedly posted on his website. “Trust me there are many brothers and sisters in America that are ready to speak up. They just need a push.”

He first drew the eye of FBI agents in June 2008 for signing into the online Expedia travel agency and purchasing a one-way ticket to Pakistan. A New York detective interviewed him at the airport; Shehadeh said he was going to Pakistan to attend an Islamic school there.

Customs and Border Patrol searched his checked baggage. They found a sleeping bag, toiletries, three books and two changes of clothes. When the plane landed at Islamabad, he was not allowed in.

According to the FBI, he created his own websites. One highlighted the “Benefits of Jihad in Our Times.” Another ran speeches from al Awlaki. A third, titled “civiljihad,” included warnings dripping in blood.

He visited the recruiting station at Times Square in October 2008, according to the complaint. The army turned him away because he failed to disclose his trip to Pakistan. Two weeks later he flew to Jordan, but the authorities would not let him in.

The FBI developed two confidential informants who were boyhood classmates of Shehadeh. The agents said they learned Shehadeh wanted American Muslims to travel to Muslim countries and fight against the U.S. He allegedly told them he wanted to die a martyr, that there were “no more excuses” for avoiding jihad. He spoke of an afterlife with 72 virgins.

In June 2009 he purchased a ticket to Dubai. Again FBI agents said they interviewed him; he told them his destination was Somalia. But now he was on the no-fly list; he could not even leave the U.S.

He went to Hawaii. In October 2009, he visited the SWAT Gun Club, and practiced firing an M-16 assault rifle, .45 caliber and 9 mm semi automatic pistols, and a .44 caliber Magnum revolver. Last April, he again spoke to the FBI. The conversation turned to why U.S. muslims become radicalized. The agents said Shehadeh told them, “take my story for example.”

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteDeranged individuals such as Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, Faisal Shahzad, and Nidal Malik Hasan do not deserve American citizenship and all the freedoms and privileges it entails. The US government must remain vigilant and suspicious of anyone who espouses treasonous acts against the republic and its interests regardless of their race, ethnicity, citizenship, religion or any other identifying characteristic. It is our hope that the Obama administration will continue to remain proactive and alert in apprehending and stopping all individuals who pose danger to the country and patriotic Muslim Americans must continue to do more to assist the nation in keeping safe.

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: