From ABC, with thanks to Nicolei:
– A California woman reveals to ABC News that she unknowingly married a Muslim extremist who helped set up what authorities say was one of the first al Qaeda sleeper cells out of their Orange County apartment complex.
Saraah Olson says she watched as her then-husband, Hisham Diab, and his group transformed local teen Adam Gadahn into an America-hating fanatic who she says is the masked man who promised in an al Qaeda video message released in Pakistan late October that the “streets of America will run red with blood.”
Watch Brian Ross’ interview on “Primetime Live” tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET.
“I was just a stepping stone to a green card,” Olson said. “I married a terrorist. I married somebody who did not like America, who didn’t like Americans.”
Gadahn, who met Olson’s former husband at a local mosque, was “fresh meat,” she said. “Someone they could control. Not only that, he’s very unassuming-looking, he can do a lot of their tasks.”
The voice, gestures and rhetoric of the video’s “Azzam the American” were all familiar to Olson, especially the phrase “red with blood,” which was one of the group’s favorite sayings, she said.
And over the course of three years, Olson said, some of Osama bin Laden’s top deputies would stay with her and her husband, including blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who would later go to prison for life for his role in organizing terrorist plots against the United States.
Olson said she repeatedly tried to notify the FBI of her husband’s suspicious activities, but that she was never taken seriously. “I’m in hell,” Olson remembers thinking after she recognized Abdel-Rahman in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. “I have entered the bowels of hell and I’m going to be here forever. And I’ve only been married seven months. I’ve got a terrorist in my house.”
The FBI said in a statement that counterterrorism is their top priority. “Whenever we receive credible information pertaining to terrorist threats against the United States, the FBI acts immediately to thoroughly pursue all such leads,” the statement read.
Federal authorities say the couple’s neighbor Khalil Deek, considered a major al Qaeda figure, ran the Orange County sleeper cell operation.
Diab, who obtained a U.S. passport after marrying Olson, left the country suddenly in 1998. He is now being sought by U.S. authorities and is believed by intelligence officials to be hiding in Pakistan with top al Qaeda leaders….
Plus details of how devoutly Diab followed Qur’an 4:34 in his marriage to Olson:
The honeymoon was short-lived, however. First, she said Diab insisted she wear the hijab, a head scarf worn by certain devout Muslim women, and conform to other strict Islamic customs.
And the beatings came next, she said, provoked by what were deemed violations of her husband’s strict rules, which including forbidding physical contact with any man. She says he hit her the first time just weeks after their wedding for accidentally bumping into the manager of their apartment building.
“You have to listen to me and I am God,” she said Diab told her. “Follow the rules.”
Olson’s son Ryan, now a teenager, says he was beaten almost daily when he did poorly in the Arabic lessons he was forced to take.
“I mispronounced something and that set him off,” the college freshman said. “And I remember he clasped both his hands together and just hauled off and hit me right square in the back. I remember the wind, you know, getting knocked out of me, crying out.”
Ryan said Diab’s cell tried to recruit him into their group and he would be brought to small meetings where the men would rail and plot against America.
“He wanted me to be just as extreme as he was you know, hate America, anything that his little group didn’t like,” he said. “I just can’t really say I ever believed it. I just went along, just nodded my head.”
And Saraah Olson admits she played a role in drawing up the papers for a fake charity, called Charity Without Borders, that the cell used to funnel money overseas. The organization would not be discovered or shut down until after the Sept. 11 attacks.
It was an act of desperation, Olson said. “I’m not proud of it. Not proud of it at all,” she said. “I just knew that I lived in hell and I wanted out. And if helping him do whatever it was that he was doing meant that I wouldn’t get hit, I was willing to do it at that point.”