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Radicalized Youth!

Interesting Article: "From U.S. prep school student to al Qaeda agent" by Associated Press / Texas published Wednesday, January 18th, 2012.

An interesting article mentioned that a U.S. prep school student recently became an al Qaeda agent and was killed late last year in a middle-of-the-night explosion in Pakistan. Moeed Abdul Salam, the 37-year-old father of four, was dead after paramilitary troops stormed his apartment. Salam's Nov. 19 death went largely unnoticed in the U.S. and rated only limited attention in Pakistan. But the circumstances threatened to overshadow the work of an American family devoted to religious understanding. And his mysterious evolution presented a reminder of the attraction Pakistan still holds for Islamic militants, especially well-educated Westerners whose Internet and language skills make them useful converts for jihad. Want to know more?

Moeed Abdul Salam didn't descend into radical Islam for lack of other options. He grew up in a well-off Texas household, attended a pricey boarding school and graduated from one of the state's most respected universities. But the most unlikely thing about his recruitment was his family: Two generations had spent years promoting interfaith harmony and combating Muslim stereotypes in their hometown and even on national television. Officers said Salam committed suicide with a grenade. It is not clear to what extent Salam's family knew of his radicalism, but on his Facebook page the month before he died, he posted an image of Anwar al-Awalki, the American al Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, beside a burning American flag. He had also recently linked to a document praising al-Awalki's martyrdom and to a message urging Muslims to rejoice "in this time when you see the mujahideen all over the world victorious." After his death, the Global Islamic Media Forum, a propaganda group for al Qaeda and its allies, hailed Salam as a martyr, explaining in an online posting that he had overseen a unit that produced propaganda in Urdu and other South Asian languages. A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said Salam's role had expanded over the years beyond propaganda to being an operative. The family, originally from Pakistan, immigrated to the U.S. decades ago. Salam's father was a pilot for a Saudi airline, and the family eventually settled in the Dallas suburb of Plano. The family obtained American citizenship in 1986. Salam attended Suffield Academy in Connecticut, a private high school where tuition and board currently run $46,500. He graduated in 1992. A classmate, Wadiya Wynn, of Laurel, Md., recalled that Salam played varsity golf, sang in an a cappella group and in the chamber choir, and that he hung out with a small group of "hippie-ish" friends. She thought he was a mediocre student, but noted that just being admitted to Suffield was highly competitive. Salam went on to study history at the University of Texas at Austin and graduated in 1996. His Facebook profile indicated he moved to Saudi Arabia by 2003 and began working as a translator, writer and editor for websites about Islam. Salam, who had apparently been active in militant circles for as long as nine years, arrived three years ago in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and became an important link between al Qaeda, the Taliban and other extremists groups, according to an al Qaeda operative in Karachi who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is wanted by authorities. Salam traveled to the tribal areas close to the Afghan border three or four times for meetings with senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, the operative said. He would handle money and logistics in the city and deliver instructions from other members of the network. Back in the United States, Salam's mother is a prominent resident of Plano, where she is co-chairwoman of a city advisory group called the Plano Multicultural Outreach Roundtable, as well as a former president of the Texas Muslim Women's Foundation. Salam's brother, Monem Salam, has traveled the country speaking about Islam, seeking to correct misconceptions following the 9/11 attacks. He works for Saturna Capital, where he manages funds that invest according to Islamic principles — for example, in companies that do not profit from alcohol or pork. He recently moved from the company's Bellingham, Wash., headquarters to head its office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, dozens of U.S. citizens have been accused of participating in terrorism activities, including several prominent al Qaeda propagandists, such as al-Awalaki and Samir Khan, who was killed alongside him. Perhaps best known is Adam Gadahn, an al Qaeda spokesman believed to be in Pakistan. Of 46 cases of "homegrown terrorism" in the U.S. since 2001, 16 have a connection to Pakistan, according to a recent RAND Corporation study. Salam's background as college-educated and from a prosperous family isn't unusual among them. The fact is, radicalism seems to seep in everywhere, take for example very recently in Manchester, England-A Manchester man hunted by police over links with al-Qaida has died in a US drone attack in Pakistan. Aslam Awan was one of four men killed in a missile strike near the Afghanistan border. American intelligence officials say Awan, formerly of Cheetham Hill, was an influential al-Qaida operative involved in planning attacks in the West. He was wanted after a terrorist cell operating in Manchester was exposed in 2006. Pakistan-born Awan – aged in his late 20s – moved to Britain in 2002 on a student visa, telling his family he had enrolled at Manchester University. But he is thought to have fled the country in 2006, shortly before cops arrested Rangzieb Ahmed and Awan’s housemate Abdul Rahman. Ahmed was convicted of directing terrorism and jailed for 10 years, while Rahman was sentenced to six years for allegedly acting as ‘a recruiting sergeant’ to bring militants to Pakistan for combat training. During their 2008 trial, the jury heard Awan was part of the terror cell and had tried to recruit fighters, sending a letter back from the Afghanistan frontline urging others to join forces with the Taliban. Little was known about the fugitive’s whereabouts until the American-operated drone struck at a house in northern Waziristan on January 10. The police raid on the Cheetham Hill house in 2007 found a letter in Rahman’s bedroom from Awan. It contained instructions for the distribution of martyrdom CDs featuring the dead al-Qaeda fighters – plus a description of Awan’s participation in fighting and his terrorist training. Radicalism is rampant throughout the west, and the problem is that we find out very late in the game, how radical some of these fundamentalists are. The closer we keep tabs of personality traits, the easier it will be tack them down in the long run. An understanding of what to look for in radicalized youth is a must.



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