‘Arrested Americans had contacted jihadist groups in Pakistan’

December 11th, 2009 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, Dec 11 (IANS) The five Americans arrested in Pakistan had contacted radical jihadist organisations, including two terrorist groups with links to the Al Qaeda, say US media reports citing Pakistani officials.

The five, all Muslims from the Alexandria area, a Washington suburb, also had maps and videos suggesting that they intended to train to fight US troops in Afghanistan, the Washington Post said Thursday.

“They are proudly saying, ‘We are here for jihad’,” Usman Anwar, police chief of Sargodha whose officers interrogated the men, was quoted as saying.

He said police recovered jihadist literature, laptop computers and maps of different parts of Pakistan when the men were arrested near Lahore Tuesday. The maps included areas where the Taliban train.

Pakistani officials said the men had contacts with the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Jangvi, both of which have been banned in Pakistan and branded terrorist organisations by the US government.

The men first made contact with those organisations by email in August, officials said. Apparently, the organisations rejected their overtures.

Jaish-e-Mohammed has been banned by the Pakistani government since 2002, a year after the group was implicated in the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi. The Bush administration put it on the US government’s list of terrorist organisations in 2002.

US and Pakistani officials cited by media reports identified the five as: Farooq, a Pakistani-American; Eman Hasan Yasir, an Ethiopian-American; Ramy Zamzam, an Egyptian-American; Waqar Husain, a Pakistani-American; and Ahmed Abdullah Mini, an Ethiopian-American. All five men are naturalised US citizens travelling on US passports.

The Wall Street Journal, citing a Pakistani intelligence official, said information gleaned from the arrested men’s laptop computers and other material recovered from the suspects established their links with the militant network operating from the lawless tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

He said the men came in contact with the Al Qaeda through its local operatives in Pakistan. Police have also seized some jihadist literature from the house where they were arrested.

“We watched them for one and a half days and then arrested them,” Anwar was cited as saying. Police also arrested an employee of the federal highway department who was identified only by the name Fahim.

The men have been defiant under questioning and have told investigators that it was the duty of all Muslims to wage jihad against those who were killing Muslims, Anwar told the Journal in an interview.

The men were arrested at a house owned by Khalid Farooq, the father of one of the suspects, Pakistani-American Omer Farooq, Anwar said.

The men arrived in Lahore Dec 5 from Karachi and travelled to Sargodha to stay with Farooq’s uncle, and they were arrested two days later, according to an official at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.

The five men claimed to be travelling to Karachi for a friend’s wedding, with further plans to go to Lahore and Sargodha for “sightseeing”, according to their visa applications, he said.

They applied for the visas at the embassy in Washington sometime between Nov 20 and 24 and obtained a single entry visa for one month that had to be used within the next three months, the official said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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