This story was updated 11/25/07. Read it here.
KOLD News 13 Tucson is currently running a special report focused on a urgent FBI report outlining a possible terrorist threat in southern Arizona. It speaks specifically to Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista.
The document gives no timetable or explanation of how the threat will be carried out.
But it does say, “a group of Iraqis may have entered the United States through tunnels from Mexico into Arizona,” and those same “Iraqis are believed to be the ones who will perpetrate the attack on Fort Huachuca.
In posting this story, I don’t want to imply that we are in favor of KOLD releasing the report. However, as it is now in the public domain and being broadcast on TV we feel it’s an important story to cover.
It may surprise you, but Tucson has had more than it’s share of attention from al Qaeda.
American al Qaeda
American al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn grew up in Riverside County, California. But a search on the Internet reveals he also worked in Tucson as a student reporter for a TV news magazine called “EcoNews.”
Gadahn helped cover a story on a garbage project at the University of Arizona, but he never attended college.
In 2004, The Investigators on Eyewitness News 4 reported the possible threat of terrorists using the Arizona/Mexico border to cross into the U.S.
While local government officials and immigration advocates questioned the validity of such a threat, the report, “Terrorist Alley,” gained national attention.
Arizona: Long Range Nexus for Islamic Extremists
With the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. government took notice of the radical leanings held by some Arizona Muslims.
A joint FBI-CIA analysis titled, “Arizona: Long Range Nexus for Islamic Extremists,” likely explores the history of Tucson’s rise to prominence among Muslim radicals but remains classified. Its existence was revealed in the bipartisan 9/11 commission’s final report released Thursday.
That leaves others to explore the reasons why Tucson and Arizona became a destination for Islamic fundamentalists.
FBI spokeswoman Susan Herskovits would not talk specifically about the analysis but said Arizona offers numerous attractions that make it a destination for many Arabs, including legitimate scholars and law-abiding residents.
The University of Arizona recruited Middle Easterners for its science programs, and Arizona’s weather makes flight training schools popular.
The desert climate reminds Middle Easterners of home. And Tucson’s popularity spread through word of mouth, she said.
“Once people from another culture end up in a place like Tucson, other people hear about it and want to be there,” Herskovits said.
In addition to el-Hage, Tucson and the Phoenix area have been home to numerous al-Qaida operatives, including:
Åú Hani Hanjour, who attended the UA and a flight school in the Phoenix area before piloting American Airlines 77 into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
Åú Mubarak al Duri, who lived in Tucson and, according to the 9/11 commission’s report, served as bin Laden’s principal procurement agent for weapons of mass destruction.
Åú Wa’el Jelaidan, who was president of the Tucson Islamic Center in 1984-’85 and helped found al-Qaida later that decade.
Most known or suspected terrorists seem to have been drawn to Tucson and Arizona by two lures – the availability of flight schools and student visas, said David D. Van Fleet, a professor and terrorism expert in the School of Management at Arizona State