GEORGETOWN, S.C. -- They don't look like al-Qaida terrorists. Their photos in the local newspaper look menacing enough -- but more like a crew that might knock over a convenience store or an ATM at a gas station. Their apprehension this week by FBI agents in Raleigh, N.C., has their neighbors here talking about "homegrown jihadis" and has prompted the O-Team Department of Homeland Security to warn about "American extremists" once again.
The seven men were arrested Monday, the same day President Barack Obama tendered his much-acclaimed invitation to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley to sit down over a beer and talk about the serious problem of racism in America. The president, who claimed that the police behaved "stupidly" in detaining the professor, apparently considers "racism" to be a more serious problem than Americans being recruited to commit acts of terror.
Our nation's chief executive, consumed with preparations for his "beer summit," was as mute about the "North Carolina Seven" -- all charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists overseas -- as he was about the fraudulent elections in Iran. Perhaps that's because he doesn't want to alarm the public about a real and present danger -- or because he was involved so personally in choosing just the right brews for himself and his guests. For those who care, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says that POTUS prefers Bud Light; professor Gates is a fan of Jamaican Red Stripe; and Sgt. Crowley tips back with Blue Moon. One can only ponder what this revelation will mean for sales of these suds.
What is certain is that Daniel Patrick Boyd -- the alleged ringleader of the Raleigh terror cell -- and his fellow "jihadis" are unlikely to be tippling anytime soon, even if they want to. In the 14-page federal indictment unsealed Monday, Boyd and his six "colleagues" are charged with plotting to murder, kidnap and maim individuals overseas. Prosecutors maintain that Boyd -- who goes by the name "Saifullah," meaning "sword of Allah" -- is a "veteran of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan" and that he recruited his sons and other U.S. citizens to travel overseas for waging "violent jihad." An eighth conspirator is being sought in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The seven-count indictment details a conspiracy that commenced in 2006 and continued until just before the arrests. It alleges that the defendants trained for battle in the U.S., planned to die as "martyrs," and raised funds to support their training and recruit others to their cause overseas. It also accuses Boyd of taking one of his sons to Gaza in March 2006 to introduce the young man to individuals who "believed that violent jihad was a religious obligation." A year later, Boyd and several of the other defendants apparently went to Israel in an unsuccessful effort to wage jihad.
U.S. Attorney George Holding, in arguing that the men be held without bond pending trial, said, "These charges hammer home the point that terrorists and their supporters are not confined to the remote regions of some faraway land but can grow and fester right here at home." FBI Special Agent Owen D. Harris said that the arrests "show there are people living among us, in our communities ... around the U.S. that are honing their skills to carry out acts of murder and mayhem."
The importance of all this appeared to be lost on members of the O-Team as they scurried around preparing for their mini-Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, the arrests in North Carolina are but the most recent case in a growing phenomenon of "homegrown" terror. Since the attacks of 9/11, law enforcement officials have unearthed more than a dozen terror plots by American citizens and other individuals living in the United States and professing radical Islamic beliefs. And it's getting worse.
Last month, the federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., disclosed that Bryant Neal Vinas, a 26-year-old New York native, had admitted to launching a rocket attack against a U.S. base in Afghanistan, trying to kill American military personnel and providing detailed information on the Long Island Rail Road to al-Qaida leaders for an attack on the transportation system. He faces life in prison when sentenced.
On June 1, a Tennessee man, Abdulhakim Muhammad, was apprehended. He is suspected of shooting two soldiers outside a U.S. Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark. One of the soldiers, Pvt. William Long, was killed. Muhammad is charged with capital murder.
In May, four New York men were arrested for plotting to blow up two Jewish community centers in the Bronx. That same month, Oussama Kassir was convicted of plotting to set up a weapons training camp in Bly, Ore., to teach al-Qaida followers to make bombs and poisons and to commit murder.
And in February, Abdifatah Yusuf Isse and Salah Osman Ahmed were indicted. They are suspected of recruiting Somali refugees in Minnesota to fight with Islamic groups in their homeland. An estimated 20 men from the Twin Cities are suspected of going to Somalia to fight in the Islamist al-Shabab insurgency.
Given the silence from the Obama White House, it is uncertain what our current head of state thinks about these crimes. Now that the "beer summit" is over, perhaps our commander in chief can move on to more important but less tractable issues, such as protecting us from radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us.