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June 26, 2004
The Minneapolis Hotbed Of AQ

For some reason, the Twin Cities keeps coming up as a critical location for al-Qaeda operations. This dynamic first appeared shortly before the 9/11 attacks with the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui in the Captain's home port of Eagan, and now Power Line reports that the latest instance occurred yesterday with the arrest of an associate of Abu al-Zarqawi:

A Lebanese national who allegedly told Minneapolis FBI agents he trained with Al-Qaida and knew three of its leaders, including one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq, has been charged in connection with an international terrorism inquiry.

On Friday, a federal judge in New York ordered the suspect, Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, who has lived in Minneapolis, transported to Minnesota without bail on charges of lying to federal agents.

During a series of voluntary interviews in April, Elzahabi told Minneapolis FBI agents that while in Afghanistan in the late 1980s and 1990s, he knew Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaida figure now suspected of engineering several deadly kidnappings in Iraq; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Abu Zubaida, a top Al-Qaida leader.

Elzahabi is charged with lying in denying that he sent walkie-talkies to Pakistan and that he helped get a Massachusetts driver's license for a man later convicted of plotting to bomb American and Israeli tourists in Jordan.

Unfortunately, most of our Twin Cities neighbors have chosen to shade their eyes to this threat. We have a wonderfully diverse community in the Twin Cities, one of whose components is an active and vibrant Somali community. While the vast majority of these people celebrate their freedom in the US, their presence allows al-Qaeda operatives some manuevering room here, as the arrests of six other men in our area for their AQ connections since 9/11 indicate, including that of Mohammed Abdullah Warsame, whose arrest sparked a short-lived protest from Twin Cities Somalis.

This action shows that the FBI has not let up in its counterterrorism efforts and remains vigilant in the area. However, it also shows that al-Qaeda has not given up in its efforts to infiltrate American cities, using blameless immigrants to hide themselves from justice and in some cases to manipulate immigrant communities into protesting on their behalf. AQ's continued focus on this area worries me, especially after the FBI smashed the conspiracy to attack a Columbus shopping mall earlier this month. After all, the largest and most famous shopping mall in the US is located minutes away from my house.

Big Trunk has posted the entire article on their site, as the Strib only leaves their articles available on their web site for seven days. Be sure to read the entire article.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 26, 2004 9:18 AM

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