Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Fort Dix Terror Plot - More 'Paintball Jihad'?

The 6 ethnic Albanian or former Yugoslavian Muslims were arrested today for allegedly conspiring to gun-down, with automatic weapons and explosives, as many soldiers as possible at Fort Dix, New Jersey. You've probably already heard that part of the story, but there's an interesting angle of the story you may not yet be familiar with. It seems our Albanian jihadists used paintball guns to practice the 'urban combat techniques' necessary to wage jihad on American streets (or military bases). Why is that interesting? Well, let me take a moment to refresh your memory.
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Do the names Randall Todd Royer or Ibrahim al-Hamadi ring a bell? They were two of nine men who either pleaded guilty to or were convicted in 2004 of of charges related to their participation in what came to be known as the 'Virginia Jihad Network'. The charges all centered around the groups' plans to take up arms against nations they considered hostile to Islam, including the United States. Their leader, Ali al-Hamadi was also convicted on various weapons charges. Why bring these conviction into a discussion of the Fort Dix terror plot? Well, it seems that the 'Virginia Jihad Network' honed their skills at waging jihad by practicing tactics and maneuvers on paintball fields and ranges in the Virginia hills. Starting to see a pattern here?

Fast forward back to today. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, it was the paintball activities of the Fort Dix plotters that led to their discovery and arrest. It seems members of the group were fond of videotaping themselves practicing with painball guns, and occasionally real firearms, in the Pocono Mountains. The tapes would often include rants against America and calls for jihad. Luckily, as most criminals do, they made a fatal mistake. They took the tape to a local video store in an effort to get the video of their practice sessions transferred to DVD format. An alert store clerk who watched the tape, alerted the FBI, and a bloodbath was averted.

No doubt, more details will surface about this plot in the days to come, but one thing is already clear: There are many, many more small groups of Islamic jihadists unaffiliated with any known terrorist organization actively practicing for and meticulously planning attacks against Americans right here on American soil. Not even a week ago, 8 Muslim men were arrested in St. Louis, MO on charges related to their alleged plans to acquire automatic weapons and explosives because they were "going to war".

Just like that video store employee, we must remain vigilant. Like Vice President Cheney said about the prospects of another major terrorist attack here in the US: "It's not a matter of if, but when."