The threat of homegrown jihad continues to grow.
Last week fourteen people in three American cities were arrested on charges of providing support for the Somali terrorist organization Al-Shabab.
Now we learn that al Qaeda’s new chief of its terror operations lived in the U.S. for years. As one analyst puts it in the story below, it’s “natural” that he will focus on plotting attacks against the U.S.
New al Qaeda chief lived in U.S. for years
Familiarity with America seen as a problem by FBI agent
Adnan Shukrijumah, 35, is a suspected al Qaeda operative who lived for more than 15 years in the U.S. The FBI says he has become chief of the terror network's global operations. (FBI via Associated Press)
By Curt Anderson
MIAMI | A suspected al Qaeda operative who lived for more than 15 years in the U.S. has become chief of the terror network's global operations, the FBI says, marking the first time a leader so intimately familiar with American society has been placed in charge of planning attacks.
Adnan Shukrijumah, 35, has taken over a position once held by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was captured in 2003, Miami-based FBI counterterrorism agent Brian LeBlanc told the Associated Press in an exclusive interview. That puts him in regular contact with al Qaeda's senior leadership, including Osama bin Laden, Mr. LeBlanc said.
Shukrijumah and two other leaders were part of an "external operations council" that designed and approved terrorism plots and recruits, but his two counterparts were killed in U.S. drone attacks, leaving Shukrijumah as the de facto chief and successor to Mohammed — his former boss.
"He's making operational decisions is the best way to put it," said Mr. LeBlanc, the FBI's lead Shukrijumah investigator. "He's looking at attacking the U.S. and other Western countries. Basically through attrition, he has become his old boss."
The FBI has been searching for Shukrijumah since 2003. He is thought to be the only al Qaeda leader to have once held permanent U.S. resident status.
Shukrijumah was named earlier this year in a federal indictment as a conspirator in the case against three men accused of plotting suicide bomb attacks on New York's subway system in 2009. The indictment marked the first criminal charges against Shukrijumah, who previously had been sought only as a witness.
Shukrijumah is also suspected of playing a role in plotting of potential al Qaeda bomb attacks in Norway and a never-executed attack on subways in the United Kingdom, but Mr. LeBlanc said no direct link has yet emerged. Travel records and other evidence also indicate Shukrijumah did research and surveillance in spring 2001 for a never-attempted plot to disrupt commerce in the Panama Canal by sinking a freighter there, Mr. LeBlanc said.
Shukrijumah, who trained at al Qaeda's Afghanistan camps in the late 1990s, was labeled a "clear and present danger" to the U.S. in 2004 by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture and the FBI also is releasing an age-enhanced photo of what he may look like today.
It's natural he would focus on attacking the U.S.Mr. LeBlanc said.
"He knows how the system works. He knows how to get a driver's license. He knows how to get a passport," Mr. LeBlanc said.
Shukrijumah's mother, Zurah Adbu Ahmed, said Thursday on the front stoop of her small home in suburban Miramar, Fla., that her son frequently talked about what he considered the excesses of American society — such as alcohol and drug abuse and women wearing skimpy clothing — but that he did not condone violence. She also said she has not had contact with her son for several years.
"This boy would never do evil stuff. He is not an evil person," she said. "He loved this country. He never had a problem with the United States."
Mr. LeBlanc said the new charges were brought after the New York subway bomb suspects identified him to investigators as their al Qaeda superior. The New York suspects provided other key information about his al Qaeda status.
"It was basically Adnan who convinced them to come back to the United States and do this attack," Mr. LeBlanc said. "His ability to manipulate someone like that and direct that, I think it speaks volumes."
Before turning to radical strains of Islam, Shukrijumah lived in Miramar, Fla., with his mother and five siblings, excelling at computer science and chemistry courses while studying at community college. He had come to southern Florida in 1995 when his father, a Muslim cleric and missionary trained in Saudi Arabia, decided to take a post at a Florida mosque after several years at a mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y.
At some point in the late 1990s, according to the FBI, Shukrijumah became convinced that he must participate in "jihad," or holy war, to fight perceived persecution against Muslims in places like Chechnya and Bosnia.
That led to training camps in Afghanistan, where he underwent basic and advanced training in the use of automatic weapons, explosives, battle tactics, surveillance and camouflage.
ACT for America
P.O. Box 12765
Pensacola, FL 32591
Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.
"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."
In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.
"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."
Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.
In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.
Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.
"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."
The policies were contained in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which exempted industries from antitrust prosecution if they agreed to enter into collective bargaining agreements that significantly raised wages. Because protection from antitrust prosecution all but ensured higher prices for goods and services, a wide range of industries took the bait, Cole and Ohanian found. By 1934 more than 500 industries, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of private, non-agricultural employment, had entered into the collective bargaining agreements called for under NIRA.
Cole and Ohanian calculate that NIRA and its aftermath account for 60 percent of the weak recovery. Without the policies, they contend that the Depression would have ended in 1936 instead of the year when they believe the slump actually ended: 1943.
Roosevelt's role in lifting the nation out of the Great Depression has been so revered that Time magazine readers cited it in 1999 when naming him the 20th century's second-most influential figure.
"This is exciting and valuable research," said Robert E. Lucas Jr., the 1995 Nobel Laureate in economics, and the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. "The prevention and cure of depressions is a central mission of macroeconomics, and if we can't understand what happened in the 1930s, how can we be sure it won't happen again?"
NIRA's role in prolonging the Depression has not been more closely scrutinized because the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional within two years of its passage.
"Historians have assumed that the policies didn't have an impact because they were too short-lived, but the proof is in the pudding," Ohanian said. "We show that they really did artificially inflate wages and prices."
Even after being deemed unconstitutional, Roosevelt's anti-competition policies persisted — albeit under a different guise, the scholars found. Ohanian and Cole painstakingly documented the extent to which the Roosevelt administration looked the other way as industries once protected by NIRA continued to engage in price-fixing practices for four more years.
The number of antitrust cases brought by the Department of Justice fell from an average of 12.5 cases per year during the 1920s to an average of 6.5 cases per year from 1935 to 1938, the scholars found. Collusion had become so widespread that one Department of Interior official complained of receiving identical bids from a protected industry (steel) on 257 different occasions between mid-1935 and mid-1936. The bids were not only identical but also 50 percent higher than foreign steel prices. Without competition, wholesale prices remained inflated, averaging 14 percent higher than they would have been without the troublesome practices, the UCLA economists calculate.
NIRA's labor provisions, meanwhile, were strengthened in the National Relations Act, signed into law in 1935. As union membership doubled, so did labor's bargaining power, rising from 14 million strike days in 1936 to about 28 million in 1937. By 1939 wages in protected industries remained 24 percent to 33 percent above where they should have been, based on 1929 figures, Cole and Ohanian calculate. Unemployment persisted. By 1939 the U.S. unemployment rate was 17.2 percent, down somewhat from its 1933 peak of 24.9 percent but still remarkably high. By comparison, in May 2003, the unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was the highest in nine years.
Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.
"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."