Federal and New Jersey police arrested two Americans late on
Saturday for attempting to fly to Somalia allegedly in order to join the terror group
al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-allied insurgency that is waging civil war in
Somalia. The two New Jersey men, 20 year old Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and
24 year old Carlos Eduardo Almonte, have likely been charged with
conspiracy to commit terrorism. What does this mean and how big of a
deal is it?
- How Big of a Threat? The New York Times' William Rashbaum evaluates the arrest.
"Though the picture that emerged of Mr. Alessa and Mr. Almonte from the
criminal complaint raised questions as to whether they would have been
capable of mounting a sophisticated attack on their own, their arrests
were nonetheless seen as a cause for concern," he writes. "The suspects,
both United States citizens, physically conditioned themselves, engaged
in paintball and tactical training, saved thousands of dollars for
their trip, and acquired military gear and apparel, according to the
complaint. They talked about what they said was their obligation to wage
violent jihad, and at times expressed a willingness to commit acts of
violence in the United States."
- It's Unclear They Committed
Any Crimes Joshua Foust muses, "So these jersey boy
terrorists make me wonder where the line is between conspiracy and
thought crime anymore. Their crime is:
listening to al-awlaki, hating America/kafirs, wanting to go to Somalia,
working out and buying army clothes. What's criminal? What am I missing? Is expressing a desire to fight
US troops in another country and hating America a crime now?" The
blogger sighs, "I just don't get
where being an asshole is terrorism."
Why This Generation of Home-Grown Terrorists? Spencer Ackerman wonders, "at this point it’s necessary
to ask why we’re seeing an uptick
in domestic radicalism. The easy answer — and I stress this is just a
theory — is that the generation of American Muslims who were young kids
and teenagers during 9/11 have grown up seeing what looks like American
aggression toward Muslims, making an extremely small cohort within those
communities susceptible to the incitement of the conspiracy theorists
and murderers who preach al-Qaedism."
- Little Threat From
Al-Shabaab to U.S. The New York Times' Eric Schmitt writes, "About 20
Americans have joined Al Shabab, and at least half a dozen have been
killed in fighting in Somalia, according to their friends and relatives.
Law enforcement officials fear that the recruits, often young men in
their 20s who hold American passports, could be tapped to return to the
United States to carry out attacks here, though so far there is no
evidence of any such plot." He says the recruits are brought in to "help
wage an intensifying civil war" and not necessarily for anti-U.S.
Course They're a Threat National Review's Daniel Foster notes "the
disturbing inroads the Grand Jihad has made in Minnesota" and laments
"the government's verbal backflips to avoid coming to grips with what is
actually causing the Somalia-America pipeline, which has been shipping
jihadists back and forth for a few years now." He insists that
al-Shabaab recruits aren't interested in the Somali civil war but in "a
call to jihad that sounded in mosques from Minneapolis to Mecca."
Terror Victory for Obama The Moderate Voice's Jerry Remmers calls this
"another positive victory for the Obama administration which is not
being given full credit for its successes." Remmers lists past
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