restricted access 1. Introduction: The Devil Has a Deal for You!
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PART I The Enemies of Open Society PAGE 1 .......................... 10897$ PRT1 08-31-04 10:08:26 PS PAGE 2 .......................... 10897$ PRT1 08-31-04 10:08:26 PS C H A P T E R 1 o INTRODUCTION The Devil Has a Deal for You! When you’re in the outer world, you have to act like them, dress like them, behave like them. —From an al Qaeda handbook mentioned in the East Kenyan Embassy bombing trial1 In early 2000, when Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hamzi moved into the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego’s Clairmont District in California, they appeared to be two ordinary Muslims trying their best to fit in and stake their claim to the American dream. A local Islamic center helped them settle into the community and afforded them the opportunity to practice their daily religious routines. They enrolled in aviation lessons at Sorbi Flying Club near Montgomery Field, a small San Diego airport, something foreign nationals occasionally did in an attempt to parlay quality U.S. training into well-paying jobs in their home country. They played soccer in the park, ate fast food, had season passes to Seaworld, even frequented a strip club. Essentially, they did nothing that would suggest them to be anything other than two average foreigners trying to make it in the world. A few things were peculiar about al-Mihdhar and al-Hamzi, however. According to reports, neighbors wondered why they would use their cell phones outside the house whenever they had to make a call. Perhaps it was because they had barely any furniture in their house. With few furnishings, the two would eat their meals on the floor. They’d also play flight simulator games for hours, which neighbors observed through the frequently open front door. Strangest of all, even though PAGE 3 3 .......................... 10897$ $CH1 08-31-04 10:08:53 PS 4 Chapter 1 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • the two men apparently couldn’t afford to buy furniture, they were often picked up in fancy limousines with tinted windows. Despite these few quirks, there is little reason to think that two people as seemingly innocuous as al-Mihdhar and al-Hamzi would raise suspicion among Americans accustomed to the idiosyncratic behavior showcased daily in a parade of reality shows and supermarket tabloids. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which had a long-time counterterrorism informant in contact with the two men, didn’t appear concerned. Apparently the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wasn’t overly worried either, even after receiving information from Malaysian intelligence that the two had visited with al Qaeda operatives in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000. It wasn’t until August of 2001 that the CIA finally raised the alarm and urged the FBI to locate the two men. But by then it was too late. Al-Mihdhar and al-Hamzi had successfully disappeared into American society in preparation for their mission. On September 11, 2001, when al-Mihdhar and al-Hamzi helped hijack American Airlines Flight 77, the U.S. government and residents of San Diego’s Clairmont District finally began to realize that these apparently ordinary men were part of a larger group of al Qaeda militants determined to commit atrocities against the United States. In a post-9/11 world, where Americans are under threat of additional terrorist attacks, the tragic success of al-Mihdhar, al-Hamzi, and the other hijackers forces us to ask a fundamental question: How do we protect ourselves in an open society from those who would use its freedoms against us? Many who have reflected on 9/11 suggest that the attacks were a watershed event, signaling the changing nature of threats that challenge the United States. During the cold war, knowing who the enemy was and that this enemy was, in fact, oceans away alleviated anxiety somewhat. Today that guarded sense of security has morphed into unease over a faceless enemy that lives in American neighborhoods and is dedicated to jihad against the West. The U.S. military, designed to face more traditional challenges, such as chasing Saddam Hussein out of Baghdad or keeping North Korea on its side of the 38th parallel, appears ill-equipped to counter the shadowy and decentralized enemy in this first war of the twenty-first century. Chapter 2 begins an exploration of this brave new world by looking at modern fanatics who seek to overthrow the West through an ideology that distorts the teachings of Islam. Overlooked in discussions on...


Subject Headings

  • Privacy, Right of -- United States.
  • Electronic surveillance -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Social control -- United States.
  • War on Terrorism, 2001-2009.
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