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Nine Americans were among 11 men charged today with conspiring to train on U.S. soil for a “violent jihad” overseas.
According to an indictment issued by the federal government, the men belong to the Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, or “Army of the Righteous,” which seeks to drive India out of the disputed Kashmir province, Fox News reported.
“These indictments are a stark reminder that terrorist organizations of various allegiances are active in the United States and these groups exploit America’s freedom as a weapon to recruit and position themselves on our shores, in our society,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty told reporters.
The Islamic group is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. India, which is in a conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir, accuses the group of launching suicide attacks against officials and civilians in the province.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, said McNulty, “Virginia jihad network members were told that it was time to engage in violent jihad.”
One suspect, Ahmed Abu-Ali, is being held in Saudi Arabia by officials probing the May 12 bombings in Riyadh that killed nine attackers and 25 other people.
In preparation for its jihad, the group trained from early 2000 through last May in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington and in St. Louis, Mo., the indictment said. It also trained in small-unit military tactics near Fredericksburg, Va., using AK-47 assault rifles and other firearms, Fox News reported.
The FBI said on its website the defendants also were harboring various documents, including a copy of the “Terrorist Handbook,” featuring information on the manufacturing of explosives and related weaponry.
In the group’s combat simulations in northern Virginia, it also used toys to fire paintballs, according to the Washington Post.
The report said members of the group attended lectures given by a Muslim scholar whose home was searched along with the suspects by U.S. authorities looking for evidence of militant or terrorist activities.