Computer files maintained by a “cyber-terrorist” gang in the United Kingdom included a threat by 45 Muslim doctors said to be planning an attack on the Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Fla., and other U.S. sites using car bombs and rocket grenades.
U.S. officials, however, said they did not consider the group’s plan to be a credible threat.
“We are 45 doctors and we are determined to undertake jihad and take the battle inside America,” someone claiming to be a doctor wrote in one of the group’s online discussions.
The discussion included an apparent reference to the USS John F. Kennedy docked in Jacksonville: “The first target which will be penetrated by nine brothers is the naval base which gives shelter to the ship Kennedy.”
The plan revealed yesterday by the London Telegraph involved six Chevrolet vehicles, three fishing boats and exploding gas tanks with rocket-propelled grenades. The Internet discussion also mentioned “clubs for naked women which are opposite the First and Third units” — an apparent reference to strip clubs near the naval base.
Younes Tsouli, 23, Tariq Al-Daour, 21, and Waseem Mughal, 24, pleaded guilty this week to “inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism wholly or partly outside the United Kingdom which would, if committed in England and Wales, constitute murder” through Web sites and chat rooms. The three men also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud banks and credit-card companies.
The Internet sites showed films of hostages and beheadings, and also directed potential terrorists to Iraq and discussed bomb attacks.
Investigators have not found a link between the chat rooms and a half-dozen doctors arrested in last week’s attack at Glasgow Airport and car bombs rigged to explode in London. Tsouli and Daour are biochemistry students and Mughal is a law student.
The British plot “has already been thoroughly investigated” by U.S. officials, said William Knocke, Homeland Security spokesman.
“The FBI and DHS consider this threat not to be credible,” he said.
“In 2006, the FBI along with partners in the intelligence and law-enforcement community investigated, vetted and assessed hundreds of threats. Some of those threats resulted in criminal charges” in the U.S., United Kingdom, Bosnia and Canada, Mr. Knocke said.
The BBC reports that eight persons arrested in connection with failed car bombings all have links to the National Health Service and at least six are doctors.
The involvement of doctors in terrorism should not be surprising, said Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix-based physician and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
“Just as physicians helped the Nazis experiment on human beings and perform their genocide upon the Jews and humanity, so too do these physicians in the Muslim world give their knowledge over to evil in the name of militant political Islam,” Dr. Jasser said.
The use of physicians dispels the notion that conflict and terrorism are a result of poverty or level of education, he said.
“These monsters who like to call themselves physicians simply looked upon their profession as a good meal ticket while they exploited their patients. They have no understanding of the Hippocratic oath or the great tradition of medicine and philosophy in the Middle East from Maimonides to Avicenna,” Dr. Jasser said.
“As individuals are more educated and successful academically and economically, their narcissism also increases unless it is balanced with a humility from and to an all-compassionate God,” Dr. Jasser said.
A warning issued by the Homeland Security Department in 2005 said “counterterrorism analysts remain concerned that terrorist organizations may attempt to target U.S. medical infrastructure in order to cause immediate casualties and disrupt health care and emergency medical services.”
The bulletin recounted several incidents that year when men and women posed as health care officials, and Defense Department and CIA employees and attempted to conduct inspections at hospitals in Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit and New York.
Dr. Bilal Abdulla, who was arrested after crashing a flaming vehicle into Glasgow Airport, is said to have been “radicalized” while studying at the University of Baghdad. Professor Ahmed Ali told the Telegraph that Dr. Abdulla, the son of a prominent physician, was known as an extremist with possible links to the al Qaeda- led insurgency.
“He didn’t care about his studies. He only cared about the resistance,” Mr. Ali told the British paper. “Many times in the class he interrupted to talk about the mujahideen. I thought he was crazy. But we couldn’t do anything in 2003 and 2004 because the resistance was controlling everything, including the university.”