Saturday, December 12, 2009
I'm surprised CNN didn't do this story earlier - it was posted on this blog months ago. Better late than never I suppose.
Here's the original post that was on this blog in early October.
ORIGINAL POST LINK
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:53 PM
(CNN) -- Five Americans arrested this week in Pakistan were "wholesome," devout young men who participated in a youth program at a community mosque in suburban Virginia, representatives of the congregation said Friday.
"I have always known these kids as fun-loving, career-focused children that had a bright future for themselves," said Mustafa Abu Maryam, youth coordinator at the I.C.N.A. Center, an affiliate of the the Islamic Circle of North America, in Alexandria, Virginia. "As far as I know they were wholesome kids. Very goofy. You
know, talked about girls. Very wholesome."
Portraits of Ahmed Abdullah Minni, Umar Farooq, Aman Hassan Yemer, Waqar Hussain Khan, and Ramy Zamzamand -- whom police say were transferred Saturday from the small town where they were seized to a more secure location in Lahore -- are slowly emerging. A sixth man -- the father of one of the five -- also was arrested, police said.
Pakistani authorities described the men as college students who "were of the opinion that a jihad must be waged against the infidels for the atrocities committed by them against Muslims around the world," a report states.
Abu Maryam said members of the community are struggling to come to terms with news of their arrests in Pakistan amid suspicions they were plotting terror attacks and seeking a way to fight American troops abroad.
"I hope all of this is not true. I hope it is not what it seems," Abu Maryam said.
Representatives of the mosque -- a modest, one-story brick house on a residential street --expressed surprise over the arrests and described the community as a small, tight-knit, patriotic congregation.
READ THE REST OF THE STORY AT CNN
Posted by Steve Douglass at 3:46 PM
CNN) -- On the heels of a U.S. announcement of a massive troop surge for Afghanistan, an al Qaeda spokesman Saturday appeared to be trying to improve the group's image in the region with a new audio message in English.
Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, appeared in a 17-minute video released on Islamist online forums late Friday, offering condolences to the families of innocent people killed in al Qaeda attacks.
Gadahn said al Qaeda "have condemned and continue to condemn" all attacks by Western powers or "secular political forces."
"We express our condolences to the families of the Muslim men, women and children killed in these criminal acts and we ask Allah to have mercy on those killed and accept them as shohadaa (martyrs)," he says in the video.
"We also express the same in regard to the unintended Muslim victims of the mujahedeen's operations against the crusaders and their allies and puppets, and to the countless faceless and nameless Muslim victims of the murderous crusades" in Afghanistan, Pakistan's Waziristan regions and Swat Valley, and elsewhere, he said.
It is a rare example of al Qaeda offering condolences to the families of those killed in the group's own attacks.
The video comes nearly two weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, as part of a strategy to reverse the Taliban's momentum and stabilize the country's government.
Obama said he would begin sending the additional troops in early 2010, with the goal of starting to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan by July 2011. The additional forces, Obama said, will help accelerate the handing over of responsibility to Afghan forces.
CNN LINK FULL STORY
Posted by Steve Douglass at 11:25 AM
Washington (CNN) -- A U.S. counterterrorism official says there are "strong indications" a senior al Qaeda operation planner, Saleh al-Somali, was killed in a missile strike earlier this week.
Al-Somali was responsible for al Qaeda's operations outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and maintained relationships with the terrorist group's allies in east Africa, including al-Shabaab, the official said Friday.
"He was engaged in plotting throughout the world. Given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe," the official said.
Al-Somali took strategic guidance from al Qaeda's "top leadership" and "translated it into operational blueprints for prospective terrorist attacks," the official said.
"Al-Somali was part of al Qaeda's core leadership cadre, and he maintained connections to other Pakistan-based extremists. He had been very involved in al Qaeda's propaganda operations and worked with Western al Qaeda recruits upon their arrival in the tribal areas of Pakistan," the official said.
Earlier, a U.S. official said American intelligence officials believe a senior al Qaeda operative was killed in a strike carried out by an unmanned drone in Pakistan.