New York City’s finest nabbed two would-be jihadis just before they boarded flights to Egypt and Somalia, but the NYPD had been on their case for much longer. In an investigation dubbed “Operation Arabian Nights,” the police force’s counterterrorism unit infiltrated a cell of jihadist recruiters to track home-grown terrorism. The Somalia destination is no coincidence, and yet another American traitor who has so far remained rather obscure may be at the center of this recruitment:
Two New Jersey men who wanted to kill American troops were arrested at a New York City airport before boarding flights on their way to join a jihadist group in Somalia, authorities said.
Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 26, were arrested Saturday at John F. Kennedy Airport before they could board separate flights to Egypt and then continue on to Somalia, federal officials in New Jersey and New York Police Department said in a news release.
During a lengthy investigation, an NYPD undercover officer recorded conversations with the men in which they spoke about jihad against Americans.
“I leave this time. God willing, I never come back,” authorities say Alessa told the officer last year. “Only way I would come back here is if I was in the land of jihad and the leader ordered me to come back here and do something here. Ah, I love that.”
They didn’t escape notice for long. The NYPD has been tracking them and their cohorts since 2006. They wanted to join al-Shahbab, which is headquartered in Somalia and which has been aggressively recruiting American citizens and residents. They have help in that regard from Omar Hammami, aka Sheikh Abu Monsoor al-Amriki, whom some speculated may have been captured by Kenyans last October. That turned out to be wishful thinking. Hammami may not be as notorious a traitor as Adam Gadahn or Anwar al-Awlaki, but it’s not for lack of trying.
So who is Hammami? He’s the son of a Syrian-born Muslim father and a Southern Baptist mother from Alabama. He once headed the USA Muslim Students Association, and represented Pakistan in a student UN project. He left South Alabama University as a sophomore to go to Somalia and join the Islamist jihad, and now recruits and trains terrorists in order to establish a worldwide caliphate. Unfortunately, we’re going to be hearing a lot more about him in the future.