Thursday, December 10, 2009

Five U.S. Men Arrested in Pakistan Said to Plan Jihad Training

Via NYTimes -

Five young Muslim American men arrested here Wednesday were on their way to the heart of the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal areas with the intention of training to fight against American troops in Afghanistan, Pakistani police authorities said Thursday.

The men, a tight circle of friends in their late teens and their 20s from the Washington suburbs, had been in contact through YouTube with a Pakistani militant with links to Al Qaeda before arriving in Pakistan on Nov. 30, said the Pakistani officials, who had firsthand knowledge of the case.

After touching down in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, the men tried to join an extremist Islamic school near Karachi and approached another extremist organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, in the eastern city of Lahore, the officials said.

They were rebuffed in both places because of their Western demeanor and the fact that they did not speak the national language, Urdu, an investigator said. They then came here, to Sargodha, a city in the north of Punjab Province, en route to North Waziristan, said the police chief of Sargodha, Usman Anwar.

Sargodha, one of Pakistan’s biggest cities and home to the central command of Pakistan’s air force, is also known as a center for anti-India militant groups. North Waziristan is a haven for Al Qaeda in Pakistan; many Pakistani Taliban fighters have also fled there since the Pakistan Army’s assault their bases in South Waziristan.

The arrests were made at a four-room home in a government housing complex belonging to an uncle of the eldest of the group, Umer Farooq, 25, according to Chief Anwar.

“We had tips from local people and work of field officers that some foreigners were residing in some area of the city,” Chief Anwar said. “We watched them for a day or so and then arrested them.”

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