New al-Qaeda leader lived in U.S. for years: What can Muslims do about this?

AP: New al-Qaeda leader lived in U.S. for years –

— A suspected al-Qaeda operative who lived for more than 15 years in the U.S. has become chief of the terror network’s global operations, the FBI says, marking the first time a leader so intimately familiar with American society has been placed in charge of planning attacks.

Adnan Shukrijumah, 35, has taken over a position once held by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured in 2003, Miami-based FBI counterterrorism agent Brian LeBlanc told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview. That puts him in regular contact with al-Qaeda’s senior leadership, including Osama bin Laden, LeBlanc said.

Shukrijumah (SHOOK’-ree joohm-HAH’) and two other leaders were part of an “external operations council” that designed and approved terrorism plots and recruits, but his two counterparts were killed in U.S. drone attacks, leaving Shukrijumah as the de facto chief and successor to Mohammed — his former boss.

Before turning to radical strains of Islam, Shukrijumah lived in Miramar with his mother and five siblings, excelling at computer science and chemistry courses while studying at community college.

This is the part that enrages me and makes me wonder what nonviolent defense is there here:

He had come to South Florida in 1995 when his father, a Muslim cleric and missionary trained in Saudi Arabia, decided to take a post at a Florida mosque after several years at a mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This is the part that interests me, makes me wonder about nonviolent defense against this.  Rest assured, if those of us who think in nonviolent terms about our neighbors and our world do not deal with terrorism then someone else will, and always does.

I am thinking frankly of the father, of the training of a cleric in Saudi Arabia, of the sermons, of Wahhabist Islam. It is true that any kid who is troubled can be radicalized by the web, but parents matter a lot, and my Muslim friends know very well the redemptive potential of religious parents and leaders, and the destructive potential, on young minds.

If I were a Muslim cleric in the United States, I would work hard for the next twenty years to firmly establish with my colleagues American guidelines and qualifications for giving sermons, an American form of Islam that can have great variety in custom, practice, liberalism and conservatism, but where some things and some overseas texts are out of bounds, off limits. I know many who are struggling in this direction, and we must be supportive. Otherwise the fearful Americans waiting in the wings to blame someone for a modern frightening world will gain the upper hand. Thank God we have a political party in charge now that does not sensationalize these stories. But we cannot be complacent because trouble is always brewing in politics unless one is vigilant.

© Marc Gopin