A young American Muslim has been employed by a federal contractor while running a radical website promoting al-Qaida.
Until just last week, 22-year-old Samir Khan worked at the Charlotte, N.C., branch of Convergys Corp., which in March was awarded part of a $2.5 billion federal contract to set up emergency communications centers in the event of terrorist attacks and other national disasters.
The company and Khan parted ways after a local news crew showed up at his office to interview him about his jihadist website, which features graphic photos of dead U.S. soldiers and praise for al-Qaida leaders and terrorists, who he calls “martyrdom bombers.”
In one photo posted on his site, American soldiers are shown in a plane heading to Iraq above the caption, “Here they come.” A second photo posted below it shows flag-draped coffins aboard a U.S. military plane with the words, “And here they go.”
Khan, a Saudi immigrant, says the U.S. is losing the war on terror, while “the Muslims are winning.” He says video he posted recently of “the mujahideen” blowing up a U.S. outpost in Iraq “brought great happiness to me.”
He shows no remorse even for relatives of dead American troops grieving back home.
“I have no concern,” he told the New York Times in a video-streamed interview. “If they moan and groan and cry, it’s not going to change a thing.”
“They are the people of the Hellfire,” he added. “Every disbeliever will go to Hellfire.”
Khan claims the 9/11 attacks, which he replays on his website, were justified under Islamic jihad.
“Osama bin Laden did September 11th because it was an act of retaliation,” he says on his site, emphasizing the word “retaliation.”
A U.S. citizen, Khan says his website is protected free speech. He also says he is not recruiting terrorists or soliciting violence. “I’m not telling people how to build bombs.”
Officials, however, say the FBI has been closely monitoring his English-language site, “The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge,” which is hosted from Amman, Jordan.
Terror experts warn that Khan, who speaks fluent English, is helping al-Qaida in its new push to recruit English-speaking American converts to Islam to carry out attacks on the homeland.
Through watchlists, counter-surveillance and security profiling, the U.S. and European authorities have been able to disrupt al-Qaida plots using Arab and Pakistani Muslims. In response, the terror network is trying to lower its Arab profile.
A recent report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee states, “Over the last year, al-Qaida also made a tactical decision to increase its production of online propaganda and make more of it accessible to English-speaking audiences,”
The report adds that the group has sought out English translators.
Experts say Khan’s site, which includes anti-Semitic rants, is unique because it is written in English and makes al-Qaida propaganda accessible to an American audience. They say the site is popular among young, homegrown jihadists, whose numbers are growing thanks to the virtual training and chat rooms that such Internet sites provide.
The trend worries members of Congress such as N.C. Rep. Sue Myrick, who co-chairs the House Anti-Terrorism Caucus and is aware of Khan’s activities in her district.
“They are using the Internet for training, al-Qaida is,” she said. “They’re telling people how to do everything they want them to do. They’re recruting people on the Internet.”
Khan’s former employer Convergys told WBTV News in Charlotte that Khan did not work on a government program but declined to specify what his job duties were during his employment there.
It’s not clear how the Cincinnati-based company overlooked his radical ties in its hiring process. Khan has been in the national news since at least October 2007, when the New York Times first ran a feature on “The Internet Jihadi.” Since then, Fox News and other major media have covered the story.
Khan, who was born Samir Ibn Zafar Khan in December 1985 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is short and stocky, with a sparse beard, long hair and glasses. He lives with his parents in an upscale house in Charlotte.
Khan’s father, Zafar, is a member of the Islamic Center of Charlotte and gives lectures there. Guest speakers at the mosque have included radical cleric Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.