Al Qaeda in Yemen is actively recruiting English-speaking individuals, intelligence officials told Fox News, saying that investigators are looking for people who are more like Americans, having been born in the United States or Canada.
“Anyone who can fit in and not attract suspicion” is desirable to the terror network right now, said one official.
An investigative source also said that among those attracting attention by the intelligence community are women recruits. The next wave of terrorists may include Western women, possibly Canadian, with forged documents. The use of women would be seen an evolution in Al Qaeda’s strategy from the failed Christmas Day attack by accused “underpants bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is considered the top “talent spotter.” He is tied to three of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, the Fort Hood shooting and Flight 253, which carried Abdulmutallab.
A former senior intelligence official who first identified Awlaki as a threat in 2008 said he believes Awlaki has hundreds of followers in the United States, so the focus of the intelligence community is not solely on overseas operatives but on people inside the United States.
Abdulmutallab, who is educated and born into a wealthy Nigerian family, told investigators that about 20 or 30 more people like him were training in Yemen. Yemen is also where English-speaking, Muslim converts go to learn Arabic, so one U.S. official said Abdulmutallab’s information will be vetted thoroughly.
However, that official said just because someone is studying Arabic in Yemen doesn’t mean he or she has made the leap to terrorism.
“I think we constantly have to be on our guard, the enemy is adapting,” said Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. “We have to look for not just the usual suspects, if you will, but obviously Al Qaeda is going to try to find people who would blend into our society, people who can speak English, speak it fluently, and you know not give the appearance of what we identify as the traditional Al Qaeda suspect.”
– From Prophecy News Watch