Report: U.S. is one-stop shopping center for terrorists

Thursday, September 4, 2003

A study by the Washington-based Violence Policy Center said Islamic insurgents, including those linked to Al Qaida, have determined that training and advanced firearms can be easily obtained in the United States.

The study, entitled "Credit Card Armies: Firearms and Training for Terror in the United States," cited the training in and procurement of firearms for attacks by Islamic insurgents.

"It is not surprising that international terrorists discovered the United States as a one stop firearms bazaar," the report said. "They've had the role model of radical domestic groups openly arming and training themselves with weapons of war over the last several decades."

The report cited Muslim training by an Al Qaida-related group in the United States prior to the suicide strikes on New York and Washington in September 2001. A group called Sakina advertised on its Internet web site a two-week firearm course entitled "The Ultimate Jihad Challenge," Middle East Newsline reported.

Al Qaida, the report said, was believed to have bought 25 Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifles in 1988 or 1989. A government witness, Essam al Ridi, an Egyptian native who became a U.S. citizen, testified that he had shipped 25 Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifles to Al Qaida from the United States.

The report cited El Sayyid Nosair, who was believed linked with Al Qaida as training in the United States with AK-47 assault rifles. Nosair, the assassin of former Israeli parliamentarian Meir Kahane and part of the plot to destroy the World Trade Cener in 1993, was coached by an Egyptian-born U.S. soldier.

"America's gun laws are wide open compared to the rest of the developed world," the report said. "Foreign groups promoting various forms of armed conflict, including jihad, have advised would-be warriors that, because of its lax gun laws, the United States is the ideal place to get guns and firearms training to prepare for armed conflict."

The center, which supports gun control legislation, said a federal indictment released on June 27 by the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia described how a group of conspirators in the suburbs of Washington bought and trained with assault weapons freely available in the American gun market.

"Ironically, the alleged terrorists even used credit cards to make purchases central to their conspiracy," center president Tom Diaz said.

"The indictment paints a frightening picture of how the alleged terrorists were able to build an arsenal and train with it."

The council has warned of the ease with which insurgency groups can purchase 50-caliber sniper rifles. The rifle, particularly the Model 82A1, can fire legally-available armor-piercing, incendiary, and explosive ammunition that can down a jet aircraft.

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