The transformation of John Walker Lindh
The story comes from Radical Islam.
Terrorists in U.S.: Homegrown, Educated, Employed
An in-depth study titled, "Al-Qaeda in the United States," on the demographics of terrorists, reveals that today's terrorists do not come from faraway, obscure lands with foreign beliefs, but originate from within the United States itself. Moreover, these operatives are nearly all American citizens and almost a quarter of them are converts to Islam.
But one of the most telling aspects of the study is the fact that more than half of these terrorists were college educated. In addition, 57 percent were employed or in school, almost half received terrorist training, and four out of five were U.S. residents.
The 700-page report examines the nationality, age, religious conversion, place of residence and education levels of each subject. It also analyzes the charges against them, the role of each individual offender, connections to terrorist networks and whether the individual had terrorist training and/or combat experience.
General Mike Hayden, the last CIA director under George W. Bush and the author of the preface to the new study said "this is about being aware that Americans and American groups are being targeted by al-Qaeda for recruitment."
In 1997, Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl became the first person to plead guilty in the United States to offenses related to being part of al-Qaeda. From then to the end of 2011, more than 170 individuals have been convicted by American courts or military commissions for committing crimes on behalf of, or inspired by, the organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
The study looked at 171 cases of convicted terrorists from 1997 to 2011, and cross-referenced their personal histories and documents concerning their extremist views and criminal histories and found that more than half were U.S. citizens, and 62 percent had direct ties to al-Qaeda.
Some of the perpetrators are well known, such as John Walker Lindh, the American who was found in 2011 by U.S. troops fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. Others are simply described as al-Qaeda aspirants, and were arrested and convicted of plotting terrorist acts, after an informant or undercover FBI officer had lured them into a sting.
Today we see a very different picture of the al-Qaeda threat that top national security officials warned about after 9/11. At that time, the threat came mainly from highly trained individuals who infiltrated into the U.S. on fake passports or through other means.
Now, there is no need for those tactics, as the terrorists come from within the United States. The report found that only 47 percent of the individuals convicted of al-Qaeda related offenses had attended some kind of training camp. The study also shows that 89 of the 171 individuals convicted had received at least some kind of college education, with 39 individuals earning an advanced degree. At the time of their arrests, 97 of the total either had jobs or were in school.
Unfortunately, there are not many advance signs as for who joins al-Qaeda, the report says, and we must realize that the threat can come from any region of the country, from any background or educational status. Robin Simcox, the report’s main author said, "There is no classic profile for the home grown al-Qaeda threat in the United States. The key here is to look at the spread of ideology and not profile for education, race or social status."
The September 11, 2001 attacks motivated a large number of people to aspire to terrorism, he said. Almost a quarter of the terrorist threat came from U.S. citizens who had converted to Islam, mainly from Christianity, mostly after 2001, Simcox added.
Islamic terrorism has more to do with social alienation, a propensity for crime and gang culture than any one religion, Hayden said. "This isn't about communities. It's not about large monotheistic religious groups," said Hayden. "It's about individuals who, for one reason or another, are attracted to the symbol of 9/11 rather than repelled."
The study was released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was conducted through the London-based think tank, The Henry Jackson Society. A similar study was made for the British government on British terrorists.