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From D.C. Suburbia to Al-Shabab

Zachary A. Chesser wanted to embody the most extreme form of Islam.

12:27 PM, Jul 27, 2010 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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Unfortunately, even if the MSA at Oakton High and the Islamic Center, Northern Virginia Trust may be moderate, American Islam is dominated by fundamentalists who are financed by radical Saudis, administered by South Asian extremists, and indoctrinated in the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood. And because Muslims are conformist in their attitudes toward their leaders, few will take action to prevent terrorist recruitment. The Sunday Post profile quoted an unidentified member of the Oakton High MSA, who said, “If I had the chance to talk to Zac, I’d say, ‘Who’s teaching you all this . . . ?’ I never talked to him myself, to try to get him to go down the right path. I regret it now.” Muslims who observed Chesser failed to take measures that should have been natural had they a compelling concern for the future of Islam in America.

According to the Post's profile, Chesser described himself to the FBI as “one of the most influential members ‘in the Jihadi community’ in the Washington area.” That Washington is a center of jihadist activities as well as a rich field of terror targets is the real story here.

Beginning in 2001, Anwar Al-Awlaki preached at the region’s most notorious Wahhabi mosque, Dar ul-Hijrah in Falls Church. Two of the hijackers in the attacks of September 11, 2001, Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, moved from San Diego, Al-Awlaki’s previous location, to be near him. As reported by Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, the Fort Hood killer, Nidal Malik, met Al-Awlaki at Dar ul-Hijrah. Nidal Malik also attended another radical mosque in the area, the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md.

In 2002, Operation GreenQuest, a federal interagency task force, raided a network of radical Islamist institutions in Herndon, Va. The GreenQuest investigation has yet to be concluded, but Sami Al-Arian, who pled guilty in 2006 to assisting Palestinian Islamic Jihad, remains under house arrest since he has refused to testify as a grand jury witness in the case of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a major subject of the GreenQuest inquiry.

In 2003, the “Northern Virginia jihad” network led by another white middle-class youth turned Muslim, Randall Royer, was taken down by federal authorities. Last year, a group of five Muslims of varied origin, living in Alexandria, went to Pakistan where they were arrested for trying to join the Taliban. They were found guilty in a Pakistani court a month ago and sentenced to 10 years each. Their Virginia mosque also had ties to jihadists.

Washington and Northern Virginia have a problem. No other part of the country has seen such a concentration of major jihadist cases. It is time for the Washington Post and other leading figures in the capital’s metropolitan area to face up to this reality and quit daydreaming about lost or confused young people who, as if by accident, volunteer for jihad.

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