December 05, 2008

Feds Watching Lashkar-e-Taiba Sleeper Cells in the U.S.?

To be honest, I'd be surprised to learn that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists -- the group behind the Mumbai attacks -- had actual "sleeper cells" in the US. Using the term "sleeper cell" conjures up images of secret agents living for years within a society and just waiting for a go signal to carry out their missions.

It's much more likely that we have many many LeT sympathizers within the Muslim immigrant community, and that some of these sympathizers also are involved in secret fundraising activities for the LeT's "charity" missions in Kashmir through Jamaat ud Daawah.

Any connection between the LeT and "cells" of would-be terrorists in the U.S. would more properly be classified as "homegrown terrorists" rather than "sleeper cells". 9 of the 11 so-called "paintball terrorists" who were connected to the LeT were natural born citizens and there's no indication that the two immigrants involved came to this country for any other than legitimate purposes. If I remember the case correctly the evidence indicated that it was their idea to help out the LeT, and not vice versa.

Call it semantics if you will, but I think it has important implications for our policy makers given that a cell sent by LeT would require different tactics than one organically homegrown but with the same goals. The real fear, of course, is that the children of Pakistani immigrants of the Deobandi stripe would send their children to madrassas back in the old country where they would hook up with LeT training. Something akin to what happened with the 2006 UK failed terror plot which was to be carried out by British nationals trained in Pakistan by the LeT. One need look no further than Mumbai to see evidence of what well trained LeT members are capable of.

On to the article:

Federal authorities have stepped up scrutiny of suspected members of Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT "sleeper cells" located in the United States, according to U.S. intelligence officials....

But Federal authorities acknowledged that U.S. cities with large Muslim communities are under new scrutiny including New York, Detroit, Bayonne and other cities in New Jersey, Los Angeles, the Virginia area, Florida and cities in North Carolina, such as Charlotte. All are believed to contain such cells made up of young people who are living in rundown sections of those urban areas, the officials said.

According to federal officials, LeT cells within America are made up of U.S.-born Muslims as well as young Muslims from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Yemen, Somalia and others. Those jihadi agents coming from abroad do so with the intention of embedding themselves in communities, working or running their own businesses that can act as a cover for their illegal activities, federal officials said.

According to former CIA officials, terrorists pick run-down, seedy neighborhoods and dress shabbily so that they can be invisible. In poor areas, people keep to themselves, mind their own business and do not ask questions, these sources said.

The article goes on to suggest FBI infiltration methods, but I'll send you over to the original to read it. Like I said, I'm fairly skeptical about the idea of sleeper cells. But it's certainly possible that potential homegrown terrorists with links to LeT are out there. And we can only hope that the Feds are very good at the whole infiltration business.

Thanks to G.I. Jane.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:08 PM | Comments |