The Terrorist Next Door Goes Global

by DR. LAINA FARHAT-HOLZMAN October 27, 2009
Back in September, I wrote a column asking if we are seeing homegrown terrorists next door. Since then, four more homegrown terrorists were arrested. Are they just the tip of the iceberg?
Domestic Terrorists. Najibullah Zazi, Michael Finton, Tarek Mahana, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, all of them young (from 19-29) all Muslim, one a convert. I am appalled that these three, one of them born here, could be so vicious that they felt entitled to rain death and destruction on their neighbors and fellow countrymen.
Apparently none of them knew of the others – but did al Qaeda know them? Michael Finton (a.k.a. Talib Islam) was arrested in Illinois attempting to detonate explosives in a van parked outside a federal courthouse. The FBI had already been on to him and provided him with the dud explosives. But what if they hadn’t caught him?
Meanwhile, in Texas, a baby-faced 19-year-old Jordanian also parked what he thought was an explosive-laden truck in a garage beneath an office tower in Dallas (modeled after the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1995 and Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma).
Najibullah Zazi is the most inexplicable of terrorists. Born in Afghanistan and fortunate to live in the U.S. since his teen years, his hatred of his adopted homeland is incomprehensible. This 24-year-old was possibly egged on by his New York City mosque imam (supposedly an informant for the FBI, who tipped off Zazi that the Feds were on to him). Zazi wanted the kind of bombs used in the London subway and the Spanish rail systems in time for the anniversary of 9/11. Over the summer, he and his buddies were stockpiling chemicals in Denver beauty supply stores to make such bombs, a skill learned in a Pakistan camp.
Tarek Mehanna, 27, was arrested in Sudbury, Connecticut on October 22nd. He and fellow conspirators planned to mow down civilians in a shopping mall using automatic weapons. One of his co-conspirators has fled to Syria and the others are being sought.
Do we need a successful attack before the terrorism skeptics recognize that these men are for real? While most of the wannabe terrorists have been incompetent, eventually one will be lucky.
Pakistan. In Pakistan, investigators have found a “Jihadi village” of native-born German al Qaeda insurgents, Muslim converts, in the tribal areas close to the Afghan border. The village has also provided a recruitment video showing how lovely life in the village is (no one is asking the women), complete with schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and daycare centers. The campaign has lured in a number of German families, many of North African descent (Algerian?) who are moving right in, along with some Swedish converts eager for “jihad.” One former Pakistani intelligence officer noted that the converts will do anything for Islam – by choice.
Switzerland. The Large Hadron Collider atom-smasher program, a multinational scientific effort hosted by the Swiss, has just arrested one of its scientists – a French Algerian Muslim with connections to a nasty al Qaeda group in Algeria. 
I have heard it said that if you expect gratitude, get a dog. These immigrants feel no gratitude for their far better lives abroad than they had in their homelands. It is difficult for reasonable people to conceive of the fanatical hatred that motivates these “jihadis.”
A Different Model. Rosemary Stasek, 46, a former Mountain View, California mayor, moved to Afghanistan, which she loved, and where she wanted to improve the lives of Afghan girls and women. She was building schools, buying books and purchasing medical supplies – all of this on her own. She refused to leave Afghanistan when her health failed her, and died in September. It is lucky that these fanatics did not have a chance to kill her instead.
The world needs more like her, and fewer like the idiot jihadis who are training to blow up and kill as many of us as they can, including little girls at school. Contributing Editor Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is an historian, lecturer, and author who also writes for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. You may contact her at or

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