Thursday, June 02, 2005

Expert: Al-Qaida Has Presence In South Florida

Some Predict 'Second Wave' Of U.S. Terrorism
MIRAMAR, Fla. -- Despite the massive federal, state and local law enforcement effort to stop terrorists from entering the United States, there is no strong evidence of how well it is working.

Many experts are concerned that there are plenty of terrorists or sympathizers already in the country who have been here for years. Some are even citizens.

The Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were the first wave and now the increasing number of arrests seems to signal a second wave of terrorism in South Florida.

Boca Raton physician Rafik Sabir is accused of conspiring to help al-Qaida. If this is true, terrorism analysts such as Walid Phares fear there is a second wave of al-Qaida terrorists operating in South Florida

"The first wave that did 9/11 had a presence here. Between 9/11 and most recently, there have been many arrests in South Florida and Florida as a whole of elements who are allegedly involved," Phares said.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Miami FBI has investigated and apprehended dozens of al-Qaida suspects up and down the Gold Coast.

"Al-Qaida has had a presence in South Florida and continues to have a presence," terrorism analyst Steve Emerson said.

In his bookAmerican Jihad, Emerson identifies longtime terrorist cells in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, where Sabir lives and was a member of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton.

Just after Sept. 11, 2001, NBC 6 discovered hate articles on its Web site attacking Jews, NBC 6's Ike Seamans reported. After our investigation, they were quickly removed.

In 1986, members of a Palestinian terrorist organization working at Broward convenience stores were arrested for selling stolen property and sending the money to the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Could South Florida be in the midst of the second wave of international terrorism?

"The second wave will be more dangerous than the first wave because it is a piece of our society, people who've been recruited by al-Qaida and recruited themselves to al-Qaida. This model may be duplicated in many places in South Florida and around the nation," Phares said.

Experts said South Florida is so attractive to terrorists because it is international and ethnically diverse, which makes it the perfect place to blend in.
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