Zakia Nasrin was a promising student growing up in a pleasant suburb of Columbus, Ohio, after arriving here with her family in 2000 from Bangladesh. She graduated high school as valedictorian. She later enrolled at Ohio State University in a pre-med program after marrying Jaffrey Khan, who grew up in a tony neighborhood in Silicon Valley.
In May 2014, Zakia, Jaffrey, and Zakia’s younger brother Rasel Raihan traveled to the capital city of the Islamic State: Raqqa, Syria. According to U.S. intelligence officials, Rasel was killed there.
That’s the story related in a report published by NBC News yesterday on documents obtained from an ISIS defector showing registration forms of would-be fighters looking to join the group. The registration forms included 15 Americans; two were Jaffrey and Rasel.
This report raises several alarming issues.
According to NBC News, Jaffrey and Rasel were already known as extremists by the FBI after an informant’s tip. Suspicions were further raised when Jaffrey and Zakia claimed to have “lost” their passports while in Kenya. Rasel admitted to friends that he had been interviewed by the FBI. The report also claims that they were indeed on the terror watch list.
This is a recurring problem I’ve repeatedly identified here at PJ Media as “known wolf” terrorism: again and again, individuals who engage in terrorism or join terrorist groups are already known to law enforcement and national security agencies.
Why were these individuals allowed to slip into Syria?
Further, NBC News reports, curiously, that all three lived in an apartment in Columbus next door to the wife of convicted al-Qaeda cell member Christopher Paul. Paul was known as one of the oldest known American Al-Qaeda operatives:
Of all the places in Columbus they could have lived, Zakia and Jaffrey picked one with a connection to Islamic extremism.
In 2007, the Riverview Ave. building was home to Christopher Paul, an American who later pleaded guilty to training al Qaeda bomb-makers to attack targets in Europe and the United States. Although Paul is serving 20 years in prison, his wife still lives in the building. She told NBC News that she didn’t know Jaffrey and Zakia, even though they had lived in the unit right next to her for nearly two years.
According to the landlord, some of the apartment building’s residents worshipped at the nearby Omar Ibn El-Khattab mosque, which was linked in years past to militants. The head of the mosque’s board said Jaffrey quietly attended for only a few weeks.
Paul, who is currently serving a 20-year federal prison sentence, moved into the apartment in 1988. His UK-born wife and their children still live there. The apartment building is just yards from the Masjid Omar mosque cited in the report.
In my next article, I’ll discuss the long string of terrorists that have come from this tiny Columbus mosque near the Ohio State campus, identified as one of the most ideologically hardline mosques in the city.