The next al-Qaida attack on the United States could come from within, with recruiting for jihadists on the rise and the terror organization continuing to smuggle operatives across international borders, experts confirm.
The recent arrests of terror suspects in Denver, where Najibullah Zazi is suspected of trying to orchestrate an attack on New York City, reveals just how imminent is the danger.
In another new case, Hosam Smadi was arrested for allegedly trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. Authorities allege he planted a bomb and tried to ignite it, but there was no damage because the device was faked by undercover FBI agents posing as members of an al-Qaida sleeper cell.
Terror analyst and scholar Brigitte Gabriel reports that al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood actively are recruiting operatives in the United States and Canada.
Further, she says, “The Latin American Gang MS 13 is actively working with terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida to smuggle terrorists into our country.”
“Al-Qaida is paying between $25,000 and $50,000 per terrorist to be smuggled through the Mexican border. Hezbollah and Hamas are paying about $10,000 per head,” she said.
“Sources in the FBI believe these terrorists are here in America raising funds and working on logistics, waiting for the opportunity to strike within the United States. Many of them have received training in Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Gabriel.
The terrorism research group Nine Eleven–Finding Answers says one case developed when Somali-born Seattle resident Ruben Shumpert joined a jihad movement, eventually changed his name to Amir Abdul Muhaimeen and made a video about his conversion.
Multiple reports also have documented the flood of cases in Minneapolis where about 20 young Somali-born men were recruited by area imams and later turned up in Somalia fighting jihad. At least one died in a suicide bombing in Somalia.
Lewiston, Maine, also has a significant Somali population, and city manager Phil Nadeau says recruiting may be going on there.
“It probably is,” he said.
The potential for jihad recruiting in Lewiston and Boston Somali communities already has caught the attention of the Boston FBI.
A bureau source, who did not want to be identified, said the agency is talking with members of the Somali community in Lewiston and Boston, and confirmed it is an effort to prevent a situation such as the one that developed in Minneapolis.
The recruits aren’t only coming from the Somalis.
Steven Emerson, with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, says the August arrest of American jihadist Daniel Patrick Boyd in North Carolina is part of the big picture.
At the time of his arrest, Boyd’s car was full of weapons, military manuals, militant jihadi literature and a number of articles on the 9/11 attacks.
“In terms of what I call the stealth jihad – the secret (and mostly legal) efforts inside the country by radical Muslim groups to infiltrate the government, Congress, media and intelligentsia – it is definitely the Muslim Brotherhood,” Emerson said.
Many Islamic organizations in the U.S. also link themselves openly to the Brotherhood.
Robert Spencer, a scholar on Islam and terrorism and the publisher of the Jihad Watch website, says the recruitment strategy is simple.
“The recruiter appeals to the young men knowing that the American likely doesn’t know much about Islam,” he explained. “They say this is a religion that wants peace and they don’t tell the young man about the violence.
“The approach taken by the recruiter is that the recruiter does a ‘bait and switch’ gradualism that eventually leads to the violent teachings of Islam,” he said.
Gabriel said such recruits then simply wait for an opportunity.