February 26, 2008

When Jihad Came to America

Andrew C. McCarthy directs the center for law and counterterrorism at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In somewhat different form, this article will appear in his book, Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, soon to be released by Encounter Books. Copyright 2008 by Andrew C. McCarthy. From When Jihad Came to America via Daily Alert:

On May 2 and 3, 1990, the U.S. embassy in Cairo alerted its counterpart in Khartoum that Egypt's "leading radical," Omar Abdel Rahman, was on his way to Sudan and warned that his ultimate plan might be to seek exile in the U.S. And yet when, immediately upon arriving in Sudan, Abdel Rahman made application at the American embassy for a multiple-entry visa to the U.S., the document was issued to him within a week. Visa in hand, Abdel Rahman relocated to the U.S. on July 18, 1990. He was the motivating force behind the first effort to bring down the World Trade Center buildings in a bombing that killed six adults and wounded hundreds more in February 1993. I led the team of prosecutors who in 1995 successfully convicted him and nine others for that conspiracy.

But this was not the first terrorist act on American soil for which he bore some responsibility. It was preceded, only months after his arrival, by the assassination of the radical Jewish activist Meir Kahane. Had American authorities connected this murder to what they already knew about Abdel Rahman's burgeoning activities in America, and worked to mine the reams of evidence left by Kahane's assassin in his car and home, they would have gathered the information necessary to break up a terrorist ring in its relative infancy and thereby prevent the 1993 bombing - and, perhaps, much else that was to follow.