Eleven Years after 9/11, the Threat Remains: The Leading Al Qaeda Operative Remains at Large (Part I)
by PAUL L. WILLIAMS, PHD
September 11, 2012
Eleven years after 9/11, al Qaeda has been partially dismantled; Osama bin Laden is sleeping with fishes, and the war on terror has subsided into a military shuffle in Afghanistan. The leading experts on counter-terrorism no longer make nightly appearances on national news programs, and books on militant Islam no longer line the shelves of Barnes and Noble. But the leading Islamic terrorist - - a chap named Adnan el Shukrijumah - - remain intent upon conducting an attack on American soil in the very near future that will replicate the damage caused by the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
FBI Director Robert Mueller and former Attorney General John Ashcroft have called Adnan el-Shukrijumah "the next Mohammed Atta" - - a nuclear technician and computer scientist, who represents "a clear and imminent danger to all Americans."
Shukrijumah's face has appeared on the front pages of newspapers and every televised news outlet throughout the United States and Canada. He has been labelled the present leader of al Qaeda by the Justice Department. A special office for information that might lead to his arrest - - replete with a 24 hour hotline - - had been set up in Miami, Florida.
Federal investigators continue to comb South and Central America with the hope of gleaning a scintilla of evidence that might shed light on his whereabouts. They even established an elaborate sting operation in Guyana, Trinidad, and New York (the JFK plot) to snag the elusive fugitive - - but the operation only resulted in the creation of a new terrorist organization south of the border.
In 2003, the Justice Department placed a $5 million reward for any information leading to his arrest, and the same bounty for each of his alleged accomplices: Amer el-Maati, Jaber A. Elbaneh, Anas al-Liby, and Abderraouf Jdey.
But if you assemble a team of bounty hunters and manage to collar Adnan el-Shukrijumah and his terrorist cronies, you will be hard-pressed to turn them over to law enforcement officials, let alone to collect the aggregate $25 million. The U.S. Department of Justice, even after posting rewards, setting up hotlines, and issuing BOLOs ("Be-on-the-Lookout" alerts) has failed to issue criminal warrants for their arrest. This means that the bounty hunters would have to leave Adnan and his friends strapped to lawn chairs in a deserted warehouse, since members of state and local police departments remain without authorization to detain or question them, let alone take them into custody.
This oversight is mind-boggling. Adnan el-Shukrijumah has worked with Mohammad Atta and the other 9/11 operatives; he has masterminded a plan to launch a nuclear attack on American soil; he has attended leading al Qaeda gatherings, including the Waziristan Summit of 2004; he has conspired with Jose Padilla and others to blow up bridges and infrastructures in New York City; and the search for his present whereabouts is littered with corpses, including that of prominent California businessman Farouk Razac. Obtaining the necessary warrants would constitute the perfunctory matter of submitting a request to a federal judiciary. But this basic procedural step was not undertaken by the U.S. Attorney General, the FBI Director, or any other official within the Justice Department.
Federal law enforcement officials explain this oversight by insisting that the issuance of a BOLO (Be-on-the-Lookout) and a warrant for Adnan as a material witness is all that is required to collar Adnan since suspected terrorists, under the guidelines of the Patriot Act, need not be fugitives, indicted by grand juries in U. S. District Courts. This is all well and good if Adnan is cornered within the U. S. But, if he is sitting in a café in Canada or Mexico, neither the BOLO nor the warrant as a material witness will be sufficient to take him into custody and to extradite him for questioning by the FBI or Homeland Security.
The failure to obtain arrest warrants remains coupled with other oversights of equally staggering proportions. On October 31, 2006, members of a counter-terrorist research unit allegedly spotted Adnan el-Shukrijumah on the campus of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. They dutifully reported the sighting to the FBI and CSIS. Six years later, they remain waiting for a response.
Similarly, a former Israeli intelligence official claims to have seen Shukrijumah on several occasions at a gas station in Toronto - - less than an hour's drive from Hamilton. The Israeli says that he contacted FBI officials at four different locations only to be encountered by bureaucratic indifference. The sighting remains to be investigated.
And yet, the threat posed by Adnan el-Shukrijumah remains unaltered. He remains, according to British, Saudi, Pakistani, and Israeli intelligence sources (and even FBI bureaucrats), a "one-man terror cell" - - an al Qaeda operative, trained not only to build radiological weapons and to maintain tactical nukes but also to detonate such devices within major American cities without a logistical backup crew. This same claim has been verified by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the highest ranking al-Qaeda official to be taken into custody and dozens of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Who is Adnan el-Shurkijumah? The answer will come tomorrow in part two of this saga.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Paul L. Williams is the author of Crescent Moon Rising: The Islamic Transformation of America, The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World, The Al Qaeda Connection, and other best-selling books. He is a frequent guest on such national news networks as ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR.