By Ryan Mauro, The Clarion Project
Federal authorities have arrested an Afghan named Hayatullah Dawari in Pennsylvania for allegedly lying on his citizenship application about his membership in the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) terrorist group. He is accused of secretly communicating with HIG operatives in Pakistan about an unspecified operation.
The U.S. government says Dawari was associated with HIG in Afghanistan and Pakistan before he became a permanent resident in November 2008. Federal prosecutors say he lied on his citizenship application last year by denying any organizational associations. They assert that he acknowledged his HIG membership in a phone call made shortly after he filed for citizenship.
He is accused of maintaining communication with HIG operatives in Pakistan. In January, the FBI captured a book sent to him from that country that had a hidden message glued inside. The message was written in Pashto, a language spoken primarily in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams says it was “directing some urgent action.”
Dawari appears to be part of a larger cell because he was told to distribute books to specific individuals in the U.S. Williams said a similar secret communication was in the possession of an associate of Dawari’s in Philadelphia.
Dawari’s lawyer claims he served as a doctor with the American Red Cross and cared for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. He also claims the book was to be used to teach children at his mosque. He concedes that Dawari may have also treated terrorists while in Afghanistan but denies being a member of HIG.
HIG is an Islamist terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The indictment states that the group’s goal is a “fundamentalist Islamic state” in Afghanistan. The group is also closely linked to the Iranian regime and reportedly purchased surface-to-air missiles from North Korea in 2005.
The Justice Department says its leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, “has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan.” He’s been described as the “most feared and notorious warlord” active in Afghan politics.
This is not the first time that Americans have been linked to HIG. In 2007, the Islamic American Relief Agency of Columbia, Missouri and several of its officers were indicted for funneling money to HIG. The charity sent at least $130,000 to an orphanage in Pakistan run by HIG. Four officials of the agency were sentenced.
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Deli Siljander (R-MI) was also indicted for money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the case. The charity paid him to fight against listing it as a suspected terrorist entity by the Senate Finance Committee. Siljander was paid $50,000 in taxpayer money fraudulently taken from the U.S. Agency for International Development by the charity.
In 2009, seven aspiring Islamist terrorists were arrested in North Carolina as they planned to wage jihad overseas. The ringleader, Daniel Boyd, was convicted in Pakistan in 1991 of bank robbery. At that time, he belonged to HIG.
This latest case shows that Islamist extremists still see the U.S. as a potential safe haven. Dawari was confident in his security enough to come to the U.S. He became a resident in 2008 and was only arrested now. That’s about four years of a suspected terrorist living in the U.S.
The arrest of Dawari exemplifies why the Islamist extremist infrastructure in Pakistan must be dismantled.
Groups like HIG have schools, orphanages, clinics and other social service facilities operating freely. These terrorists are not technically Al-Qaeda, but the ideology they foster will continuously regenerate Al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadists.
The solution does not lie in only monitoring and arresting violent and criminal jihadists here. The breweries of Islamist extremism must be shut down.