Jan 20 2012
Moeed Abdul Salam certainly didn’t descend into Islamic terrorism in Pakistan for lack of other options. His mother, Hasna Shaheen Salam, ensured her son attended a pricey boarding school and graduated from one of the state’s most respected universities as he grew up in their well-off Texas household.
UK DAILY MAIL She and her husband and the generation before them had spent years promoting interfaith harmony and combating Muslim stereotypes in their hometown and even on national television. But somewhere along the way, Salam rejected his relatives’ moderate faith and comfortable life, choosing instead a path that led him to work for al Qaeda.
Officers said they pushed through the flimsy door, and Salam killed himself with a grenade when he realized he was surrounded. ‘He was lying on the floor with blood pooling around him. One of his arms had been blown off. I couldn’t look for long. He was moaning and seemed to be reciting verses from the Quran.’
The family, originally from Pakistan, immigrated to the U.S. decades ago. Salam’s father was a pilot for a Saudi airline, and the family eventually settled in the Dallas suburb of Plano. Their cream-colored brick home, assessed at nearly $400,000, stands on a corner lot in a quiet, upper-class neighborhood.
The family obtained American citizenship in 1986. Salam attended Suffield Academy in Connecticut, a private high school where tuition and board currently run $46,500. He graduated in 1992.
His odyssey ended late last year in a middle-of-the-night explosion in Pakistan. The 37-year-old father-of-four was dead after paramilitary troops stormed his apartment.
But the circumstances threatened to overshadow the work of an American family devoted to religious understanding. And his mysterious evolution presented a reminder of the attraction Pakistan still holds for Islamic militants, especially well-educated Westerners whose Internet and language skills make them useful converts for jihad.
It is not clear to what extent Salam’s family knew of his radicalism, but on his Facebook page the month before he died, he posted an image of Anwar al-Awalki, the American al Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, beside a burning American flag.
Salam, who had apparently been active in militant circles for as long as nine years, arrived three years ago in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, and became an important link between al Qaeda, the Taliban and other extremists groups, according to an al Qaeda operative in Karachi who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is wanted by authorities. Salam traveled to the tribal areas close to the Afghan border three or four times for meetings with senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, the operative said. He would handle money and logistics in the city and deliver instructions from other members of the network.
He had also recently linked to a document praising al-Awalki’s martyrdom and to a message urging Muslims to rejoice ‘in this time when you see the mujahideen all over the world victorious’.
After his death, the Global Islamic Media Forum, a propaganda group for al Qaeda and its allies, hailed Salam as a martyr, explaining in an online posting that he had overseen a unit that produced propaganda in Urdu and other South Asian languages.
Salam’s brother, Monem Salam, has traveled the country speaking about Islam, seeking to correct misconceptions following the 9/11 attacks. (HAH! That’s rich)