Five young American Muslims arrested in Pakistan met with representatives of an al-Qaida linked group and asked for training but were turned down because they lacked references from trusted militants, a Pakistani law enforcement official said Thursday.
Another senior officer said the men wanted to fight jihad, or holy war, in northwestern Pakistan and against American troops in Afghanistan.
The young men apparently first tried to contact jihadist groups through Facebook and YouTube, then traveled to Pakistan to attempt personal meetings, a Pakistani diplomat in Washington said.
The case is another worrisome sign that Americans may be susceptible to recruitment to terrorist networks from within the United States. It comes on the heels of charges against a Chicago man accused of plotting international terrorism.
U.S. officials in Pakistan have now visited the men in custody. Their disappearance from the Washington, DC, area late last month — with one of them leaving behind a militaristic farewell video saying Muslims must be defended — prompted a frantic search by friends and family and an investigation by worried counterterrorism officials.
Javed Islam, a regional police chief in Pakistan, said the men wanted to join Islamist militants in the country's tribal area before crossing into Afghanistan and said they met with a banned organization, Jaish-e-Mohammed in Hyderabad, and with representatives of a related group, Jamat-ud-Dawa, in Lahore. "They were asking to be recruited, trained and sent on jihad."
Hang 'em high.