What is it about Muslim terrorism and northern Virginia? Five men -- ranging in age from late teens to mid-20s -- from the suburbs near here were arrested in Pakistan and authorities are questioning them about links to terrorism. When this story broke yesterday, the Washington Post had what I found to be the most interesting angle:
The men, all Muslims from the Alexandria area, were reported missing by their families last week and taken into custody near Lahore on Monday. One of them left behind a video that quoted Koranic verses, cited conflicts between Western and Muslim nations and showed wartime footage. A Muslim leader described it Wednesday as a farewell statement. Law enforcement sources said the video had jihadist overtones but cautioned that they had no evidence it was intended as a farewell. They said they had no information about the men's intentions.
At a time of growing concern about homegrown terrorism, the information that these men were reported missing by their own families is certainly newsworthy and the Post places it high in the story. What's more, apparently the Council on American-Islamic Relations says they put the FBI in touch with the family. This is also noteworthy.
I hope we see some stories explaining the significance of these actions.
In the meantime, I wanted to highlight this bit of reportage from the New York Times piece:
At the I.C.N.A. Center in Alexandria, which occupies a modest brick building without a sign at the edge of a residential neighborhood, most people arriving for prayers on Wednesday night declined to comment.
One man who would not give his name acknowledged that he knew some of the young men but described them as good kids who had never been in trouble.
"They didn't even know the price of beer," the man said.
Great reporting there! What does knowing the price of beer have to do with whether these men aspire to be Muslim terrorists? If anything, wouldn't knowing the price of beer be a mark that indicates you're not a likely candidate to head over to Pakistan to engage in violence? There had to have been a better quote -- or a follow-up, right?