This story and the FBI are pushing the claim that Mohammed Hamzah Khan was “radicalized” on the Internet, and that his parents are shocked, bewildered and saddened by his attempt to join the Islamic State. Presumably the Islam they taught him, as far as the Washington Post and the feds are concerned, was moderate, patriotic, and peaceful.
Here are Mohammed Hamzah Khan’s parents:
“Three American teens, recruited online, are caught trying to join the Islamic State,” by Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post, December 8, 2014:
CHICAGO — Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, rose before dawn on Oct. 4 to pray with his father and 16-year-old brother at their neighborhood mosque in a Chicago suburb.
When they returned home just before 6 a.m., the father went back to bed and the Khan teens secretly launched a plan they had been hatching for months: to abandon their family and country and travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.
While his parents slept, Khan gathered three newly issued U.S. passports and $2,600 worth of airline tickets to Turkey that he had gotten for himself, his brother and their 17-year-old sister. The three teens slipped out of the house, called a taxi and rode to O’Hare International Airport.
Khan was due at work at 6:30 a.m. at a local home-supply store, so he knew his parents wouldn’t miss him when they woke up. The two younger siblings bunched up comforters under their sheets to make it look like they were asleep in their beds.
Their plan was to fly to Istanbul, then drive into Syria to live in the Islamic homeland, or caliphate, established by the Islamic State, the militant group that has massacred civilians in Iraq and Syria and beheaded Western journalists and aid workers.
The Khan teens, U.S.-born children of Indian immigrants, each left letters for their parents explaining their motives.
“An Islamic State has been established and it is thus obligatory upon every able-bodied male and female to migrate there,” Khan wrote. “Muslims have been crushed under foot for too long. . . . This nation is openly against Islam and Muslims. . . . I do not want my progeny to be raised in a filthy environment like this.”
His sister wrote: “Death is inevitable, and all of the times we enjoyed will not matter as we lay on our death beds. Death is an appointment, and we cannot delay or postpone, and what we did to prepare for our death is what will matter.”
In their letters, all three teens, who had grown up playing basketball and watching “Dragon Tales” and “Batman,” told their parents how much they loved them and asked them to join them in Syria, but made it clear they would probably never see them again, except in the afterlife. They begged them not to call the police.
In the afternoon, FBI agents knocked on the Khans’ front door, armed with a search warrant.
“For what?” asked the teens’ shocked father, Shafi Khan.
“Your kids have been detained at the airport, trying to go to Turkey,” an agent said.
“We were stunned,” said Zarine Khan, their mother. “More like frozen. We were just frozen.”
The Khan teens are part of a growing number of young Americans who are joining or attempting to travel to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State.
This year alone, officials have detained at least 15 U.S. citizens — nine of them female — who were trying to travel to Syria to join the militants. Almost all of them were Muslims in their teens or early 20s, and almost all were arrested at airports waiting to board flights.
A senior U.S. official said the government anticipates more arrests. Authorities are closely monitoring Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks, where recruiters from the Islamic State aggressively target youths as young as 14.
“Their propaganda is unusually slick. They are broadcasting their poison in something like 23 languages,” FBI Director James B. Comey said in a recent speech, adding that the terrorist group is trying to attract “both fighters and people who would be the spouses . . . to their warped world.”
When the Khan teens reached the airport, FBI officials were waiting for them.
A U.S. law enforcement official said authorities had been monitoring the communications of at least one of the teens, although the FBI has not disclosed how they initially became aware of them.
Hamzah Khan has been charged with providing material support to a designated terrorist organization and faces up to 15 years in prison. At a federal court hearing last month, a judge ordered him held without bail, calling him a flight risk and a danger to the community….
In court last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Matthew Hiller said Khan and his two siblings “believe they are religiously obliged to support violent jihad.”
“This was not a spur-of-the-moment trip but rather a carefully calculated plan to abandon their family, to abandon their community, and abandon their country and join a foreign terrorist organization,” Hiller told the judge.
He said Hamzah Khan was “attempting to join an organization that has called for attacks against the United States and has already killed U.S. citizens and is dedicated to genocide.”
But Khan’s lawyer, Thomas Anthony Durkin, told the judge that the government was prosecuting Khan for what amounted to the “thought crime” of rejecting America and supporting the establishment of an Islamic homeland. He said the Khan teens wanted to go live in that homeland but not become fighters, a desire that he said was naive and misguided but not criminal….
Here is the family, with the Washington Post’s willing help, trying to erase the impression that they are devout and observant Muslims:
They try to pray five times a day but said they often don’t. Shafi Khan wears a bushy beard and a white knit skullcap, which he said is an attempt to follow the example of the prophet Muhammad. Zarine Khan covers her head and most of her face, which she considers a sign of modesty, not extreme piety.
Like millions of American Muslims, the Khans, who are both U.S. citizens, said they have raised their children to love their country and their religion. Asked if he felt more Muslim or American, Shafi Khan said, “Both.”
Shafi Khan, 48, earned a degree in environmental science from Northeastern Illinois University and has worked for many years as an event planner for a humanitarian aid organization.
Which one? For some reason WaPo doesn’t see fit to tell us.
Zarine Khan, 41, studied genetics and microbiology at an Indian university but gave it up to move to Chicago with her new husband.
They have four children — the three who were arrested, plus a 3-year-old girl — and Zarine Khan has worked for many years as a teacher at a local Islamic school.
The Khans tried to shield their children from unwanted influences. They had a TV when the children were younger, but they had no cable service. The TV was used solely for showing DVDs — mainly cartoons and educational JumpStart programs from the public library.
When Hamzah Khan was about 8 years old, the family got rid of the TV, because by then they had a computer with Internet access, which the parents carefully monitored. The children were allowed to watch cartoons and read news online, but they were not allowed to browse the Internet by themselves. “We didn’t want to expose them to adult stuff,” Zarine Khan said. “We wanted to preserve their innocence. We wanted to channel their intelligence into their studies and to becoming good human beings.”
The children studied at a local Islamic school, which offered a standard U.S. curriculum of English, math and science — but also classes on Islam. The Khans’ daughter, who turned 18 shortly after her arrest, was being home-schooled by her mother so she could graduate early from high school and begin studies to become a physician.
All three Khan children also became Hafiz, which means they completely memorized the Koran in Arabic. Each went to Islamic school through the fourth grade, then spent the next 2 1/2 years immersed in all-day memorization classes, augmented by evening programs to keep up with basics such as English and math.
The memorization process is common among Muslims and is not considered a sign of religious extremism, said Habeeb Quadri, who is principal of the Islamic school Hamzah Khan attended until the fourth grade and who frequently writes and lectures on Muslim youth.
Zarine Khan said the family took many vacations together, driving to Niagara Falls and Connecticut. She said they shopped at Wal-Mart and acted “like any other normal American family.”
“We tried to have them grounded and exposed to everything,” Zarine Khan said. “We tried to give them good morals. But it was not just Islam, Islam, Islam. We tried to expose them to different ideas as well.”
Oh, really? Such as?