Monday, June 07, 2010
WASHINGTON - When the FBI and CIA worry about Americans signing up with Al Qaeda, they don't just hunt in the tribal belt on the Afghan-Pakistan border: They also look in East Africa.
Somalia's lawless capital of Mogadishu was the first battleground Al Qaeda picked to fight over with America in 1993 - and it ended with U.S. soldiers being dragged through the streets.
A secret war is again being waged there with Osama Bin Laden's latest jihadi ally, the al-Shabaab militant group.
It is that war that the two accused Jersey-born jihadists were heading toward when they were nabbed at JFK Saturday, officials allege.
While neither man was Somali, scores of U.S.-born Somali-Americans have flocked to their ancestral homeland to take up arms with the Al Qaeda-aligned group, who Bin Laden and his henchmen have praised for fighting Somalia's weak U.S.-backed government.
The FBI has expressed fears these jihadists might return to Somali communities like St. Paul, Minn., to wage war here at home.
On Friday, Anthony Joseph Tracy, 35, was set free after pleading guilty to human smuggling charges and serving several months in prison in a case shrouded in secrecy.
Tracy, a former informant for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and two U.S. intelligence agencies, was collared at JFK Airport last January. He copped to helping 272 Somalis illegally enter the U.S. from Kenya through Cuba but failed a lie detector test when he denied smuggling al-Shabaab fighters here, a source told the Daily News.
Now the FBI and ICE are hunting down at least 130 Somalis Tracy brought here out of fears some might have been from al-Shabaab, the source said.
The anti-American group's popularity surged after its former leader, Al Qaeda's Somalia chief Aden Hashi Farah, known as "Ayro," was killed by a U.S. strike two years ago that enraged Somalis.
Source: New York Daily News