RealNews

Puzzling Over Motives of the Men in the Lackawanna Qaeda Case

LAST fall, when six men from Lackawanna, just south of Buffalo, were accused of attending a training camp for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, a top Justice Department official said it showed that support for terrorism “lurks in small towns and rural areas. “President Bush, in his State of the Union address in January, said, “We’ve broken Al Qaeda cells in Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, London, Paris, as well as Buffalo, N.Y.” The case, trumpeted in Washington, is closing quietly here. Recently, three of the men pleaded guilty to supporting Al Qaeda by attending a camp for several weeks in 2001, months before 9/11. The other three are in plea negotiations. The men are expected to serve up to 10 years in prison. But the question remains, what actually lurked in Lackawanna? Prosecutors never argued that terrorism lurked here. “We have never had any indication of a plot or a plan or an imminent threat,” said Michael Battle, the United States attorney in Buffalo. Unlike the president, local prosecutors steeped in the facts have avoided labeling the men a cell. If anything, they are a cell of curiosity, more a sign of what is unknown about terrorists in this country than a trophy catch. Full Story

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