January 20, 2006

Jawa Report Helps Nab Would-be Terrorist (Blogoversary Surprise)

Two years ago today I started blogging by warning in my very first post, If you think this is offensive, just wait til I really get going! What a way to celebrate my blogoversary!!!

The long awaited moment has arrived that I can reveal some of the details of The Jawa Report's involvement in the capture of a would-be terrorist. Some of you already know some of the details as I have talked about them from time to time in a cryptic manner. I don't want to overemphasize our role in the wannabe terrorists capture, nor do I wish to claim that the man now in custody would have been able to accomplish his stated goal of building and detonating a nuclear bomb in the United States--clearly he did not have that capacity--but this website did play a role in his capture.

It is not the first time we have done some damage to a terror supporter. Longtime Jawa reader Filthy Allah helped get a terror supporter fired from an immigration law firm in Great Britain because of one of our posts. That ought to make the people of the U.K. feel slightly safer knowing that at least one less jihad supporter is in a position to help facilitate the immigration of terrorists to their country.

As satisfying as it is to help a terror supporter file for unemployment, it pales in contrast to the feeling of elation that I have knowing that I helped put a would be terrorist in jail. Even if my role was tiny, it is far more than I ever hoped for when I started this website. I simply wanted to make terrorists and their supporters mad, not help put them in jail.

This is what happened.

On March 12th of 2005 (later updated on March 14th) I wrote a post about a series of messages on the jihadi forum alm2sda.net about how to make various weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical weapons, by a poster calling himself ahmed_assalafil. I had first heard about Ahmed's messages from a website that I frequent which monitors jihad forums, Internet Haganah. Included in Ahmed's messages was the claim that the poster had information on how to make a nuclear bomb, along with some rudimentary (and erroneous) instructions on Hydrogen bomb construction. He was seeking help translating the allegedly secret materials into Arabic.

He asked fellow forum members who were part of the mujahidin to contact him so that he could help them carry out attacks with his special skills and because he was living in the U.S. Ahmed claimed to be a Palestinian living in the U.S. who was using a computer from a public library. As I noted at the time:

What is even more alarming is that the person posting the H-bomb plans is an American of Palestinian descent and posts the plans from a public library in the U.S. I suppose that the ACLU will cry bloody-murder should the FBI check the activity logs of whichever library this turns out to have come from.
I would emphasize that the provision of the Patriot Act which allows Federal law-enforcement agents to look at public library records is under attack from the Democratic party. This provision is at the heart of the present stalling over Section 215 by Democrats in the Senate who wish to take away this vital tool in the fight on terror.

After reading Aaron's post over at Internet Haganah and learning that the Arab News picked up on the story, I decided to have a little fun with Ahmed. I noticed that Ahmed had left his e-mail address at the jihadi forum so that terrorists could contact him and he could join their ranks.

Not wanting to disappoint Ahmed, I dutifully reposted his e-mail address. From time to time we like to have a little fun with jihadis. We post the e-mail addresses of those running terrorist websites or those who leave pro-terror messages at them. Posting Ahmed's address was meant to be a childish prank. Nothing more. After all, what could be more fun than signing a terrorist up for a gay singles website?

That was really the extent of our involvement. We found his e-mail address, posted it, and encouraged readers to e-mail him.

After Michelle Malkin gave in to my pleas for a link, the story received a lot of attention. Most of it was debunking Ahmed's claim that he had secret H-bomb plans. What was overlooked by the debunking was that Ahmed also was talking about building other, less complicated, weapons of mass destruction. However, he certainly was no nuclear expert.

Even so, I still found it troubling that this man was in the United States and that he was trying to make contact with terrorists so he could join them.

So did one of my readers. He took my advice and e-mailed him. Instead of calling him a filthy S.O.B., though, he started up a friendly conversation with him. "Ahmed" responded. Eventually this conversation would help put him in jail.

I do not have all of the information about the story, but I do know this much from various news accounts and from other sources.

mohammed_radwan_obeid.jpg [Image grab of WAVY video courtesy of Opinion Bug ]

It turns out that "Ahmed" was really Jordanian born Mohammed Radwan Obeid. Obeid had fraudulently immigrated to the United States by marrying an American woman, and then having the marriage annuled. Obeid was working as a cashier in Dayton, Ohio last year and living with his girlfriend in a nearby town. It was from the Troy branch of the Miami (Ohio) County public library that he began to seek out fellow jihadis.

Obeid's posts at jihadi forums was noticed by more than those anti-terrorist crusaders who monitor them. Obeid's posts about nuclear weapons and gun silencers was somehow noticed by reference librarian Laura Girolamo. Ms. Girolamo contacted the FBI who, using their newly found powers under the Patriot Act, were able to confirm the librarians suspicions.

At about the same time, a Jawa Report reader from Virginia, David Vazquez, began e-mailing Obeid. Obeid was under the false impression that Vazquez was a fellow jihad supporter. Obeid, he says, was now trying to recruit him for a terrorist cause.

Obeid told David Vazquez in e-mails that "we are starting a big operation that will make 9/11 nothing but a little bit of headache."

According to Vazquez, "I was very alarmed at the words (Obeid) was saying." He contacted the FBI.

Armed with the knowlege provided them by their ability under the Patriot Act to monitor public library computers, and by David Vazquez's saved e-mail conversations, the FBI picked up Obeid on March 28th for 'immigration violations'.

When asked about whether or not the e-mails were his, Obeid denied that they were. Since he was asked under oath, Obeid's denials amounted to knowingly and willfully making a false material representation.

A Federal immigration judge ordered Obeid's deportation in September. Obeid was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in October. He pleaded guilty to the felony charge of lying to Federal investigators.

His trial is now in the sentencing phase where Federal prosecutors are using the testimony of David Vazquez, who is now a police officer in Norfolk, Virginia, to insure that Mohammad Radwan Obeid receives the maximum penalty of five years.

Like many other terror related cases prosecuted after 9/11, Obeid was charged first with immigration violations and then with lying to investigators. However, the content of those seemingly minor violations should not be overlooked. What was it that Obeid had lied about? About the fact that he was attempting to form a terror cell within the United States.

Perhaps Obeid would never have succeeded, but that misses the point. A Jordanian immigrant was hoping to start or join a terror cell in the U.S. He hoped to carry out terror attacks here on our soil. He dreamt that his act of terrorism would make the 9/11 attacks seem mild. Seems like kind of a big deal to me.

The Jawa Report played a small part in his arrest. For that, I am extremely proud. It's a kind of good that I never expected to play a role in. Thank you David Vazquez for helping nab this enemy of the United States and for allowing me a minor role.

Resources on the Mohammad Radwan Obeid case:

The Jawa Report: Nuke Bomb Plans Posted by American at Terrorist Website

Patriot Act's Controversial Library Provision Puts Ohio Terror Suspect Away (Blogs help too)

Jawa Report To Terrorist Supporters: "You're Fired!"

E-mail an al Qaeda Fan! (Updated with more e-mails)

Internet Haganah: How to build your own H-Bomb at home


Arab News: Terrorist Website Drops Dirty Bomb

Jihad Watch: Norfolk Officer Says Man Tried to Recruit Him for Terrorist Cause

The following is a comment left at the above post from Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch:


I am the police officer referred to in this particular story.

I did NOT testify, nor have I stated, that I met any terrorist on this website. Also, the press got it wrong, stating that I "initiated contact with him through" these websites, making it sound as if I "met" Mr Obeid on jihadwatch.

What happened is that I learned of and about this individual by way of Jihadwatch and other websites. This indivual was written about on several websites and even in some of the MSM prior to my contacting him. He had already been in a lot of hot water for doing such things as (allegedly) attempting to publish information about making "nuclear" or dirty bombs on jihadist websites etc. Specifically, i read about this person in the March, 2005 Jihadwatch article "Dirty bomb instructions published on jihadist website". At roughly the same time, the website Jawa Report picked up the same story and actually somehow acquired the email address of this terrorist. This is how I contacted the individual, and this is what I testified to in court. It is lamentable that the press did not report this. It may have something to do with the fact that the word "jihadwatch" is much sexier than "Jawa Report". Sorry, Dr Shackleford.

Again, I did not, and have never stated that, I met any terrorists "on" this website.

I am an avid reader of Jihadwatch, obviously, and have a great deal of respect for Robert Spencer. I have read 2 of his books and found them fascinating, informative and well-written.

It is partly thanks to him and to Dr Shackleford of Jawa Report that this dangerous person is now in custody. So you see, Mr. Spencer, you *did* have something to do with it.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 05:16 PM | Comments |