Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maryland Teen Arrested for Terrorist Collaboration and School Shooting Discussion

Mohammed K. (a 17 yr old Pakistani born American high school senior in Ellicott City, Maryland) was secretly arrested by the FBI recently. Mohammed excelled in school, winning scholarships based on his creative-writing skills, and was accepted to Johns Hopkins University. The under-aged Mohammed K was arrested for allegedly conspiring (since the age of 15) with the 48 yr old woman (Colleen LaRose) from the Philadelphia suburbs known as Jihad Jane. (Jihad Jane is charged with conspiracy to support terrorists and to plan to kill a foreign citizen.) The LaRose indictment does not cite Mohammed by name, but uses a code name to allege that he helped her raise money and recruit others for a jihad. According to another court document, LaRose sent Mohammed her boyfriend's U.S. passport, which she had stolen for the jihad plot. Mohammed hid it at school. Mohammed K also spoke in a jihadist chat room of a Columbine-style plot with a Pittsburgh-area friend (Emerson Begolly) a former Neo-Nazi turned Jihadist Pennsylvania college student. 

"I had a lot of thoughts about you today," the teen, Mohammed K., wrote to his Western Pennsylvania pen pal (Emerson Begolly) late last year. "About us both doing martyrdom operations together in my school. . . . It was like we both were in a big truck and had guns and we were shooting randomly at a huge crowd of kids." The chats provide new insight into a boy who at age 15 allegedly began helping Colleen LaRose, the 48-year-old "Jihad Jane" from Pennsburg, who U.S. officials say represents a disturbing new face of homegrown terrorism.

Mohammed's chat room friend was Emerson Begolly, a Pennsylvania State University student who was soon charged with soliciting unrelated terror attacks. Transcripts of the chats were publicly filed in that case. During the Nov. 22 chat, Mohammed told Begolly he lived near National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. "The place where I live is a HOTBED of NSA and all the security agencies of Amrika [sic]," Mohammed wrote. "And the kids who study in my school proudly state that their parents work in NSA and FBI, and even carry key chains - piss me off." "Like Columbine?" Begolly asked. "Na'am, lol" Mohammed wrote, using the Arabic word for "yes" and Internet slang for "laughing out loud." Online, Begolly and Mohammed also discussed taking hostages and how to use weapons and bulletproof vests. They also wrote dark poetry. At one point, Mohammed cited advice from the Al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. "We should strike the snake at its head." At another, he hesitated when asked whether he was prepared to strike immediately. "I wouldn't get too excited. I think practice comes first."

Points for Consideration:
  • This is another successful example of the US interagency Counterterrorism Network (US intelligence / Law enforcement / Military) at work and keeping us safe and secure.
  • This is the classic mix of global Islamic extremists leveraging Web 2.0 technology (jihadist chat rooms, Al Qaeda Inspire magazine, etc.) to virtually "chum" for wanna-be / not-so-bright terrorists and radicalize smart but impressionable young people to do their nefarious bidding.
  • Terrorist operations evolve from Planning to Preparation, and then to Execution. Whether they are successful or not, it generates media attention which generates fear (the enduring goal of terrorism) which helps the cause.
    • Those arrested, killed, or blown up are celebrated as being holy warriors (jihadists) and they become Muslim extremist role models for future extremists.
  • John Gidurik (author of Terror at Beslan) warned that terrorist attacks at American schools are a matter of WHEN, not IF.  While these two chat room jihadists were not a band of Chechen (Muslim) Terrorists like in Beslan, Russia; had they went on a rampage in a US school with a few others... it would undoubtedly be repeated.
    • Many of the ingredients were there as they were in the Planning stages (course of action development) and they knew they needed to "practice" (Preparation phase). 
  • While it appears Al Qaeda's ability to plan big strategic level attacks have been frustrated by the US interagency, their mission-type orders (go forth & kill western infidels) to Muslim extremists and low cost Web 2.0 resourcing (Internet, AQ Inspire magazine has a lot of "how-to" information) gives them a great return on their investment (ROI).
  • Had a AQ mid-level manager monitoring a jihadist chat rooms found out that a smart impressionable jihadist American student was considering shooting up his school which was full of students whose parents worked at the National Security Agency (NSA: Signal Intelligence folks), how hard would it have been to exploit or resource a terrorist attack against that American school...connect those dots...very possible. 
Islamic Radicalization of select / disenfranchised members of our citizenry could turn into a strategic critical vulnerability if we are not aware of the foreign and domestic threat to do so and we do not prepare. 


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