Joel Mowbray

While miniscule coverage could be explained away by the fact that only Hayat is standing trial for attending terrorism training camps (his father’s trial on lying about his son’s travels starts this week), the Sacramento Bee last summer reported that authorities now believe that seven men from the Lodi mosque also traveled to Pakistan for training.

Such a scenario would not be shocking given what is known about the two now-deported imams, Mohammad Adil Khan and Shabbir Ahmed, both of whom were imported from Pakistan.  Evidence presented at Ahmed’s deportation hearings (Adil Khan did not challenge his deportation) indicated that several high-ranking Taliban members were students and later teachers at the Karachi-based Jamia Farooqia. 

The madrassa also apparently also had a fan in bin Laden himself.  Citing classified documents, the Sacramento Bee reported, “Bin Laden, in a 1998 news conference, counted the scholars of the Farooqia school among his supporters.”

Ahmed, for his part, admitted to delivering fiery anti-American sermons in Pakistan in the wake of 9/11, in which he encouraged his followers to take up arms against the United States.  That November, the Boston Globe quoted Ahmed calling for armed revolution against Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf: “Whoever is against Islam, we will destroy him. If this is rebellion, we are not afraid of rebellion. Blood is going to be spilled in Pakistan.”

Just months later, Shabbir Ahmed was granted a visa to come the United States.

Ahmed was recruited to Lodi by his mentor, Adil Khan, because the latter wanted to be replaced as imam in order to focus his energies on building an Islamic school modeled after Jamia Farooqia.  He came disturbingly close to realizing his goal.  Before the small town of 60,000 was rocked by the arrests of the imams and three others last June, Lodi officials had approved development of the new school.  (The approval has since been rescinded, though technically only because of zoning concerns.)

At least local media outlets in Northern California are covering the Hayat trial.  Imam Ali al-Timimi was convicted last year of instructing his followers to wage jihad against the United States.  Nine of his followers have been convicted.  All this happened in Northern Virginia, yet the Washington Post ran just a handful of stories before al-Timimi’s conviction. 

Once the guilty verdict was handed down, though, the Post made it a prominent story—by editorializing on his behalf, arguing that the life sentence was “too harsh.”  The paper’s reasoning?  His followers didn’t wage successful jihad, thus it wasn’t as serious.

Is this the new media barometer, that terrorism is only worth reporting if it’s successful?

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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