The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 5, 2013

Terrorists with Western links a growing threat

— They are called "homegrown terrorists," Western citizens highly prized by Islamic militant groups because they can move across borders and carry out attacks easier than people from Middle East or South Asian nations.

Two such people — one Canadian and one Australian — are believed to have been involved in the July 18 bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver, according to Bulgarian investigators. Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov of Bulgaria said the two were members of the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah, which in turn is linked to Iran.

Here are some examples of Western citizens who have been linked to terrorism both in their home countries or abroad in recent years:

LONDON SUBWAY BOMBING

Four young Britons — three of Pakistani and one of Jamaican origin — carried out a series of suicide attacks July 7, 2005, on the London public transport that killed 56 people. More than 700 people were injured. All four had lived normal lives under the police radar and had no criminal records. They carried home-made bombs in backpacks. Al-Qaida released video testimonies of two of the bombers who denounced the West and declared their allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

SHOE BOMBER

Richard Reid was a British citizen who converted to Islam in prison. After his release he traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where authorities say he trained with al-Qaida. More than three months after Sept. 11 attacks, Reid boarded an American Airlines flight in Paris bound for Miami and tried to detonate a bomb in his shoes. He was subdued by passengers and crew members, and the plane landed safely in Boston. In 2002 Reid was sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to eight counts of terrorism and attempting to destroy a commercial airliner.

DAVID COLEMAN HEADLEY

Headley, a Pakistani-American, used his U.S. passport to travel frequently to India, where he allegedly scouted out venues for terror attacks on behalf of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization. The al-Qaida-affiliated group used the information to plan and carry out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people died. Last month Headley was sentenced by a U.S. federal court in Chicago to 35 years in prison for his role in the Mumbai attacks.

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