Friday, December 11, 2009

Detained Americans In Pakistan To Be Deported: UPDATE: Or Not?

Five American citizens who had been arrested in Pakistan on suspicions of trying to link up with terrorist groups are being deported back to the US.
The men have allegedly told investigators they tried to connect with al-Qaida-linked militant groups in Pakistan and were intending to cross the border into Afghanistan and fight U.S. troops there.

They were reported missing by their families in the Washington D.C. area a week ago after one of them left behind a militaristic farewell video saying Muslims must be defended.

The men used the social networking site Facebook and Internet video site YouTube to try to connect with extremist groups in Pakistan. When they arrived in Pakistan, they took that effort to the street.

Pakistani police detained them this week -- along with one of their fathers -- in the town of Sargodha in eastern Pakistan.

Regional police chief Javed Islam said the men had yet to be charged with any crime but they would "most probably" be deported. He declined to say how long police could hold them before they were charged.

U.S. officials, including some from the FBI, have visited the men in custody.

The case has fanned fears that Americans and other Westerns -- especially those of Pakistani descent -- are traveling to Pakistan to join up with al-Qaida and other militant groups. It comes on the heels of charges against a Chicago man of Pakistani origin who is accused of surveying targets for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.
One of the men left a lengthy video recording akin to a martyrdom tape done by jihadis around the world. Their families contacted CAIR and law enforcement, and spurred a manhunt for the five. CAIR acted properly in the case and did what it should have been doing all along - assisting law enforcement root out jihadis in the midst of the Muslim community. The father of one of the men is also under arrest in the US for not cooperating with the FBI because he knew that the five had gone to Pakistan.

The five planned on going to Waziristan, which is ground zero of the Taliban war against Pakistan and has continued to play safe haven for jihadis seeking to attack the US and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan as well. They were up to no good, and came to the attention of one of the jihadi leaders.
The men appeared to have come to the attention of “Saifullah” — an Islamic militant with links to Al Qaeda — through their YouTube activities, the police chief said. Saifullah traced their e mail addresses through YouTube, Chief Anwar said.

After establishing the Internet connection with the militant, the men planned their journey to Pakistan and into the tough terrain of North Waziristan, where they intended to train around the border town of Miram Shah, a headquarters of the Afghan Taliban fighting against the American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the police said.

The men were carrying laptops and maps of Miram Shah, as well as Kohat and Hangu, two major towns in the North-West Frontier Province that serve as the gateway to the tribal areas and North Waziristan, the police said.

Sargodha is about a seven-hour drive from Miram Shah over a route that is increasingly well traveled by Pakistani militants from Punjab who head to the Waziristans for training in explosives and weapons conducted by the Taliban and Qaeda operatives. In the last six months, 24 militants have been arrested in Sargodha, all of them with ties to the Taliban and Waziristan, the police said recently.
One of the five, Waqar Khan, had $25,000 with him for the trip. The others arrested are: Ramy Zamzam, 22, a dental student of Egyptian background at Howard University, who was described as a sort of “ringleader”; Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, born in Eritrea; and Aman Hassan Yemer, 18, a native Ethiopian. Mr. Khan is of Pakistani background and was reported to have family connections in Karachi.

Fox News is reporting that the Pakistanis are not yet ready to issue a deportation order. Pakistani officials say that no order will be issued until both the US and Pakistanis complete their investigations.

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