Eleven years after 9/11, al Qaeda has been partially dismantled; Osama bin Laden is sleeping with fishes, and the war on terror has subsided into a military shuffle in Afghanistan. The leading experts on counter-terrorism no longer make nightly appearances on national news programs, and books on militant Islam no longer line the shelves of Barnes and Noble. But the leading Islamic terrorist – – a chap named Adnan el Shukrijumah – – remain intent upon conducting an attack on American soil in the very near future that will replicate the damage caused by the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
FBI Director Robert Mueller and former Attorney General John Ashcroft have called Adnan el-Shukrijumah “the next Mohammed Atta” – – a nuclear technician and computer scientist, who represents “a clear and imminent danger to all Americans.”
Shukrijumah’s face has appeared on the front pages of newspapers and every televised news outlet throughout the United States and Canada. He has been labelled the present leader of al Qaeda by the Justice Department. A special office for information that might lead to his arrest – – replete with a 24 hour hotline – – had been set up in Miami, Florida.
Federal investigators continue to comb South and Central America with the hope of gleaning a scintilla of evidence that might shed light on his whereabouts. They even established an elaborate sting operation in Guyana, Trinidad, and New York (the JFK plot) to snag the elusive fugitive – – but the operation only resulted in the creation of a new terrorist organization south of the border.
In 2003, the Justice Department placed a $5 million reward for any information leading to his arrest, and the same bounty for each of his alleged accomplices: Amer el-Maati, Jaber A. Elbaneh, Anas al-Liby, and Abderraouf Jdey.
But if you assemble a team of bounty hunters and manage to collar Adnan el-Shukrijumah and his terrorist cronies, you will be hard-pressed to turn them over to law enforcement officials, let alone to collect the aggregate $25 million. The U.S. Department of Justice, even after posting rewards, setting up hotlines, and issuing BOLOs (“Be-on-the-Lookout” alerts) has failed to issue criminal warrants for their arrest. This means that the bounty hunters would have to leave Adnan and his friends strapped to lawn chairs in a deserted warehouse, since members of state and local police departments remain without authorization to detain or question them, let alone take them into custody.
This oversight is mind-boggling. Adnan el-Shukrijumah has worked with Mohammad Atta and the other 9/11 operatives; he has masterminded a plan to launch a nuclear attack on American soil; he has attended leading al Qaeda gatherings, including the Waziristan Summit of 2004; he has conspired with Jose Padilla and others to blow up bridges and infrastructures in New York City; and the search for his present whereabouts is littered with corpses, including that of prominent California businessman Farouk Razac. Obtaining the necessary warrants would constitute the perfunctory matter of submitting a request to a federal judiciary. But this basic procedural step was not undertaken by the U.S. Attorney General, the FBI Director, or any other official within the Justice Department.