SARGODHA, Pakistan - Five young American Muslims detained in Pakistan wanted to join militants in the country's Taliban-ruled tribal region, battle U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan and die as martyrs, police officials said yesterday.
The men initially tried to contact jihadist groups in Pakistan via YouTube and other Web sites, then traveled to Pakistan to attempt personal meetings, said Usman Anwar, police chief in this eastern Pakistani city.
The father of one of them was also detained after a police raid this week in Sargodha, a city on the main road to the Afghan border region that is home to a major air force base and is known as a hotbed of militant activity.
The young men, aged 19 to 25, were reported missing from the Washington, D.C., area more than a week ago after their families found a farewell video showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.
The detentions are another worrisome sign that Americans may be susceptible to recruitment to terrorist networks from within the United States. It comes on the heels of charges against a Chicago man of Pakistani origin who is accused of aiding the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.
Yet in contrast to the Chicago case, police say the five captured in Pakistan failed to catch on with any terror network, and succeeded only in raising suspicions among locals, who reported them to Pakistani police.
FBI agents and U.S. Embassy security officials have met with the men, U.S. officials said, but it was not clear whether they would be charged and tried in Pakistan or deported.
Anwar said the men arrived in the southern city of Karachi earlier this month.
They were identified as Pakistani Americans Umer Farooq and Waqar Hussain; Ethiopian Americans Aman Yamar and Ahmed Abdullah Mimi; and Ramy Zamzam, an Egyptian American who is a dental student at Howard University, according to a Pakistan government official in Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity.