Not-So-Innocents Abroad

Down in Houston, an accused terrorist has been sentenced to ten years in prison. Daniel Aljughaifi, alias Abu Mohammed, pleaded guilty to receiving training at an Al Qaeda camp and fighting with the Islamic Courts Union to overthrow the government of Somalia — until they were defeated and driven out of the country by Somali and Ethiopian troops.

What makes this story fascinating to me is that Abu Mohammed was born Daniel Joseph Maldonado, raised in little Pelham, New Hampshire, and was a regular attendee at the Selimiye Mosque in Methuen, Massachusetts.

This is an American citizen, folks. And, I suspect, the only reason he chose to fight for militant Islam in Somalia and not here was impatience — he wanted to go where the action was, and there isn’t an open conflict within the United States. With his US citizenship, he quite easily could have used his training within this country, against his fellow citizens.

I see this case as an example of why the “flypaper” argument for our involvement in Iraq is appropriate. One of the biggest reasons the 9/11 attacks were so successful was that Al Qaeda overcame one of the Islamists’ biggest weaknesses — impatience — and took their time to carefully plan and rehearse their strikes. So many other terrorists lack the discipline and restraint to work out such long-term plans. Instead, they strike at the first opportunity, the closest target, instead of in ways that can truly hurt us. This means that they find themselves drawn to attacks in Iraq and Somalia and other places, while other incidents like the London bombings and the Glasgow airport attack are relatively rare.

But make no mistake about it. The terrorists are fighting us in Iraq not because they want to, but because it’s easiest for them. If we didn’t give them a ready target — in the form of those Americans best to defend themselves, and most eager to and adept at fighting back — they’d go after targets far more to their liking.

Enjoy your time in prison, Danny-boy. You earned it.

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