The Washington Post runs this piece on some of the families of the five American men now facing trial in Pakistan on terrorism-related charges. The families are utterly mystified about how their sons, all raised in the US and apparently adapted to American values, suddenly showed up in Pakistan, suddenly turned into Islamic extremists.
The youth leader at the youth center of the Islamic Circle of North America, where the youths participated in programs, is equally puzzled. They were pious, but not extremist, he says.
I think it will be very interesting if the Pakistani court, where they will face trial, can learn how they were recruited and whether they were actually interested in taking part in terrorism or saw it all as a lark.
On the Saturday morning in late November when Ahmed Abdullah Minni left his Alexandria home, quite possibly forever, he did his family’s weekly grocery shopping as usual. He bought the snacks his mother needs for the award-winning preschool she runs out of their tidy blue home. He stocked up on his favorite treats: Florida orange juice with no pulp, the oatmeal cookies and rice pudding. He carefully stacked the provisions in the fridge and kitchen cabinets.
He put on latex gloves — his family jokingly calls him “Mr. Neat” — and sorted the laundry for his mother. Around 3 p.m., he walked to the mosque just down the street for prayers with his father and brothers.
Then he vanished. To Pakistan. An American kid on jihad.
Around 5 p.m., his mother became worried. This was not like him. This was not the son she considered her right hand, the one who had called her from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond several times a day when he was a freshman, just to let her know he was going to class. This was not the son who transferred to Northern Virginia Community College last fall because, he said, he missed her and his family. This was not her Hamada, her nickname for him, who called her even if he was right across Route 1 at Wal-Mart, just to check in and find out if she needed anything.
“Where are you?” she demanded when he picked up his cellphone.
He told her he was in Maryland at a conference. He would be home Sunday evening.
“You better come home right now!” she said, furious that he would leave without permission. She started compiling a mental list of chores, such as raking leaves, with which she would punish him. She hung up. That was Nov. 28. She hasn’t heard his voice since.
This Saturday, Minni, who turned 20 shortly after disappearing, and four other friends from Northern Virginia, Umar Chaudhry, 24; Ramy Zamzam, 22; Waqar Khan, 22; and Aman Hassan Yemer, 18, will appear before a Pakistani judge on five counts each of terrorism-related charges.