The Jihad Next Door: The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in an Age of Terror

The Jihad Next Door: The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in an Age of Terror

by Dina Temple-Raston
     
 

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They called themselves the Arabian Knights. They were six Yemeni-American friends, a gang of high-school soccer stars, a band of brothers on the grim side streets of Lackawanna's First Ward, just a stone's throw from Buffalo.

Later, people would argue about why they left western New York in the spring of 2001 to attend an al-Qaeda camp. Some said they traveled

Overview

They called themselves the Arabian Knights. They were six Yemeni-American friends, a gang of high-school soccer stars, a band of brothers on the grim side streets of Lackawanna's First Ward, just a stone's throw from Buffalo.

Later, people would argue about why they left western New York in the spring of 2001 to attend an al-Qaeda camp. Some said they traveled to Afghanistan to become America's first sleeper cell—terrorists slumbering while they awaited orders from on high. Others said that their ill-fated trip was a lark, an adventurous extension of their youthful wrestling with what it meant to be Muslim in America.

Dina Temple-Raston returns to Lackawanna to tell the story of a group of young men—born and brought up in small town America—who left otherwise unremarkable lives to attend an al-Qaeda camp. Though they sought to quietly slip back into their roles as middle class Americans, the 9/11 attacks made that impossible.

The Jihad Next Door is the story of pre-emptive justice in the age of terror. It follows a handful of ordinary men through an extraordinary time when Muslims in America are often instantly suspect, their actions often viewed through the most sinister lens.

Editorial Reviews

Geneive Abdo
…a detailed account of Yemeni Americans in Lackawanna in Upstate New York, whose only desire was to become more devout…[a] breezy, well-written detective story…
—The Washington Post
Washington Post
A well-written detective story.
Kirkus Reviews
Well-wrought investigative report about six young Arab-Americans from western New York who stumbled into terrorism. NPR correspondent Temple-Raston (Justice on the Grass: Three Rwandan Journalists, Their Trial for War Crimes, and a Nation's Quest for Redemption, 2005, etc.) delves deeply into the lives of these residents of Lackawanna, a former steel-mill town near Buffalo populated largely by Yemenis. First arriving in the 1950s, the immigrants were noted for their ability to withstand the heat of the steel furnaces. By the early 1960s, Lackawanna had the second-largest Yemeni community (after Detroit) in the United States. But with the closing of the mills in the '70s, the town began to suffer the effects of urban blight, and its disaffected youth found American ways more compelling than Arab tradition. Following the October 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, a swashbuckler named Kamel Derwish came to town, bragging about his brave exploits in Bosnia. He galvanized a group of youth from the Lackawanna mosque who met regularly to discuss Islam. Susceptible to Derwish's subtle exhortations to become more committed Muslims, they read revolutionary tomes, trekked to Pakistan to study at a madrasa, then found themselves reluctant recruits at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001, just months before "something big" was to occur. The camps were rough, and soon the Americans balked and wanted to return. After 9/11, the local FBI, which had been listening to phone calls and spying on the Lackawanna "terrorist cell," went after the men, now terrified and in hiding, and charged them with sedition. Were they guilty, or simply alienated youth? Temple-Raston does a fair,impartial job of laying out the essential civil-rights issues here. An elegant examination of how the rules of justice have changed since 9/11.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586484033
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
09/28/2007
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.56(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.97(d)

Meet the Author

Dina Temple-Raston is the FBI correspondent for National Public Radio and the award-winning author of several books, including A Death in Texas, Justice in the Grass and In Defense of Our America. She lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
August 25, 1965
Place of Birth:
Brussels, Belgium
Education:
B.A., Northwestern University, 1986; Degree in Chinese Language, Iaoning University, Shenyang, China, 1989

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