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by Abha Shankar
Two residents of Mobile, Ala. were arrested and charged Tuesday in connection with a conspiracy to travel from the United States to Mauritania to wage jihad.
Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair and Randy Wilson (also known as Rasheed Wilson) met online in 2010. In August 2011 an FBI undercover agent met with Wilson who told the agent that he and Abukhdair were plotting to travel overseas to seek jihad. Wilson told the informant about his connections to Omar Hammami. He described Hammami as a “friend” and showed the informant “an al-Qaeda video on his laptop praising jihad and the downfall of the West.”
Hammami, an American and former resident of Alabama, has been charged in absentia in a U.S. federal court with providing material support to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. He is believed to be in hiding in Somalia.
The defendants discussed fighting with al-Shabaab in Somalia. “Like jihad is the pinnacle of Islam. There is no deed better than Islam,” Wilson said. He and Abukhdair also discussed going to Mali to join the mujahideen fighters in the emerging jihadist front.
Abukhdair, Wilson, and the informant spent hours watching jihadi videos that included lectures by senior al-Qaida leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Some videos showed graphic violence including “prisoner beheadings and bodily mutilations of the dead including children and adult soldiers.”
Abukhdair argued that “the end goal for Islam was to take over the world, and that jihad was the means of achieving this goal.” He contended that “Islam was not spread by dawah [proselytizing], but rather by the sword of jihad.” Both Abukhdair and Wilson agreed that bin Laden and Awlaki were “great Muslims for giving up their lives of luxury to pursue jihad.”
According to the complaint, Wilson explained the meaning of jihad to Abukhdair and the informant as a war between Islam and Kufars [Arabic for “non-believers”]: “It’s not like a small war anymore. It’s either we’re gonna kill them and defeat them, or they’re gonna kill us and defeat us.”
The complaint further detailed a sermon Abukhdair gave at the local mosque in which he “discussed how Muslims have forgotten about their struggles of persecuted Muslims around the world, especially in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Syria.” He told worshippers to support Islam by engaging in dawah, giving to charity “and by supporting the mujahideen,” the complaint said.