How did Samir Khan board a flight to Yemen?
The U.S. now believes that Samir Khan, a 24-year old that operated a pro-terrorist website from North Carolina, is in Yemen and acting as the editor of Al-Qaeda’s new online English magazine, Inspire. Khan had a well-known history of terrorist sympathizes that begs the question of how he was permitted to board a flight to Yemen and join the terrorist group he publicly admired.
Khan was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to Queens, New York City when he was seven years old. As a teenager, he attended a camp run by a group called the Islamic Organization of North America, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as “the North American branch of a radical anti-Semitic and anti-American Pakistani organization, Tanzeem-e-Islami.” The IONA’s website admits its links to Tanzeem-e-Islami. The IONA also had the leader of the Islamic Circle of North America, a group tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami, give the keynote speech at its 2004 conference. The group also sells a book called “The End of Democracy.”
At this time, Khan became a more devout Muslim but distanced himself from IONA because they weren’t extreme enough. The issue that broke the relationship was violent jihad. Khan felt Muslims could wage jihad on their own accord, whereas IONA said it had to be approved by the leader of a Muslim nation. Khan left the group and began participating in meetings with the Islamic Thinkers Society, an extremist group with ties to an Al-Qaeda affiliate in the United Kingdom called al-Muhajiroun.
In 2004, Khan and his family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he began an Internet blog under the name of “Inshallahshaheed,” which means “A martyr soon if Allah wills.” He later moved his blog to Revolution.Muslimpad.com. He received significant media attention for his praise of Osama Bin Laden and terrorist attacks, listing Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as “scholars of Islam” and linking to English translation of pro-terrorist sermons.
“America needs to listen to Shaykh Usaamah very carefully and take his message with great seriousness,” he wrote. He openly preached violent jihad in English and linked to radical Islamic websites where terrorists posted their videos of attacks on Coalition forces in Iraq. He also supported attacks on Muslims, praising a suicide bomber that struck an Iraqi police station as a “success story.”
Many of the videos he promoted were produced by the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that included Al-Qaeda. In some cases, Khan commented on the videos. In one posting containing footage of a battle in Afghanistan, Khan wrote, “You can even see an American soldier hiding during the ambush like a baby! AllahuAkbar! AllahuAkbar!”
Khan also condemned democracy and non-Muslims.
“Islam denounces democracy, Islam denounces Christians and Jews, Islam denounces the corruption of the disbelievers upon the earth, and Islam is coming to crush the armies of disbelief and smash the false government and religions of the world to bring humanity from darkness into light,” he wrote.
The blog was also used to post death threats. He asked Allah to “kill” Rusty Shackleford, the operator of the Editor-in-Chief of the My Pet Jawa blog, and “terrorize his family.” He also prayed that Allah would break the hands and poison the tongue of Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org.
“Some of you seem to have a misunderstanding regarding my intentions. I did not preach that we must slaughter every single non-Muslim for the purpose of them being non-Muslim. Rather, I have been repeatedly stating that we, as Muslims, are obligated to hate you for the sake of Allah because the fact is that you are non-Muslim…” Khan wrote in 2006 in his letter to Spencer.
Despite his very public history of support for terrorism, Khan was able to board a flight from the United States to Yemen in 2009. The Al-Qaeda branch there has since put out an English magazine on the Internet named Inspire. The first issue is almost 70 pages long and has directions on how to encrypt messages and produce bombs in a kitchen. It also includes an interview with Anwar al-Awlaki, a former imam in the U.S. that is a rising star in the terrorist world. Khan is now believed to be the editor of that magazine.
It is well-known that al-Awlaki had a major Internet presence and was actively trying to recruit Americans from Yemen. A Senate report revealed in February that up to three dozen American prison converts are now in Yemen and likely working with al-Awlaki’s branch of Al-Qaeda. His sermons are inspiring many terrorists in the West. Terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann says al-Awlaki’s appear “to surface in every single homegrown terrorism investigation, whether in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, or beyond.”
“Whether what he was doing then constituted illegal activity is open to question…but apparently not to the extent that the authorities felt it necessary to take him in or put him on the No Fly List,” James Robbins, executive director of the American Security Council Foundation and author of This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive told FrontPage.
“[The authorities were] simply not taking him seriously…He was a kid literally blogging from his parents’ house in Charlotte, North Carolina,” he continued.
As two American sympathizers of Al-Qaeda adept at using the Internet, it should have been assumed that they were trying to link up and a trip by Khan to Yemen would be for this purpose. Yet, despite Khan’s pro-terrorist activity, he was apparently not placed on the No-Fly List and was able to make a trip to Yemen that was extremely likely to be terrorism-related. Based on this error, it is clear that significant gaps still exist in our defenses. If a well-known supporter of Al-Qaeda is able to board a flight to a country known to be used to recruit Americans for Al-Qaeda, then the U.S. is far more vulnerable than most people think.