The Case Against The Lackawanna Six


The Case Against The Lackawanna Six


In September 2002, six Yemeni-American friends from Lackawanna, New York, eight miles outside of Buffalo, were arrested and charged with giving material support to the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. It was the one year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

They had attended a al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in the Spring of 2001, just months before the attacks on the United States.

In his State of the Union address in 2003, President George W. Bush referred to the six as being part of an “al-Qaeda cell.” He said that along with other alleged cells broken in Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, London and Paris, “We have the terrorists on the run. We’re keeping them on the run. One by one the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.”

The men had grown up in the second largest Yemeni community in America and were all native born or naturalized U.S. citizens. One was a soccer star in high school. Another was voted “friendliest” in his graduating class.

There was never proof that the six had been plotting terror attacks on American soil or that they were, in fact a homegrown terrorist cell.

However, in December 2003, faced with possible long prison sentences if found guilty during a trial, all pleaded guilty to “providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.” They were given sentences ranging from seven to ten years.

Author Dina Temple-Raston, who wrote the book “The Jihad Next Door: The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in an Age of Terror,” says the men left the training camp early when they realized America would be a target.

During a 2007 interview on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation,” Temple-Raston, NPR’s FBI correspondent, said the men were addressed by Osama bin Laden, who told them there were suicide bombers ready to take action against the United States and Israel.

After returning to Lackawanna, she said the men were not truthful to the FBI about their activities in Afghanistan and were later arrested.

As part of the plea bargain agreements, the defendants agreed to cooperate with federal terrorism investigators.

A seventh suspect from Lackawanna, Jaber Elbaneh, escaped from a Yemeni prison but later turned himself in to Yemen authorities in 2007. He had been placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

The alleged recruiter of the Lackawanna Six, Kamal Derwish, was killed by a drone in Yemen on November 3, 2002.




Rich Newberg Reports Collection


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