We’ve seen this many times before. Incidentally, it points up the absurdity of charging that those who are concerned about Islamic terror are “racists.” From USA Today, :
WASHINGTON — Al-Qaeda allies are believed to be scouting U.S. targets, and the terror organization is using non-Arab recruits to avoid detection, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials say.
The FBI has counterterrorism investigations in virtually all 56 of its field offices but has not broken up a known surveillance cell, either because agents are tailing suspects who have not committed crimes or because they have descriptions but not identities.
It is unclear how many al-Qaeda scouts are in the USA. “The FBI has their eye on or has opened several hundred investigations of people sympathetic to or supportive of” al-Qaeda, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. “If we knew somebody was here as an operative — and we knew who they were or where they were — they wouldn’t be on the street.”
Information about active cells came from Ridge and three intelligence and law enforcement officials. The three officials wouldn’t speak for attribution because the information they provided is classified. One of the three, a senior U.S. intelligence official, responded to criticism that the Bush administration raised the terrorism threat level based on information about surveillance al-Qaeda did years ago. The official said the cells:
“¢Have been in the USA off and on since the early 1990s, and some are still here.
“¢Are focused primarily on states on the coasts, though not exclusively. They include New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Michigan and California.
“¢Operate under deep cover, sometimes hiding their Muslim faith by posing as Christians.
“¢Are isolated from each other and from al-Qaeda members who would carry out attacks.