For Release: Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Most-Wanted Al Qaeda Fugitive Said Bahaji Utilized Jihad Web Site That Urged Sniper and Assault Weapon Training in United States
Washington, DC – Muslim holy warriors should use lax firearms laws in the United States to get sniper and military assault rifle training according to a jihad training pamphlet posted on a web site that has been used by a most-wanted Al Qaeda fugitive. The Violence Policy Center (VPC) has obtained the full text of the pamphlet, which has also reportedly been found in abandoned terrorist safe houses in Kabul, Afghanistan. The pamphlet informs jihad trainees, “In some countries of the World, especially the USA, firearms training is available to the general public,” and that “it is perfectly legal” to obtain weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles. It urges would-be warriors to take advantage of those lax laws and learn firearm fighting skills, especially sniping and assault rifle firing.
Said Bahaji who authorities say helped obtain U.S. visas in Germany for the two pilots who crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center towers on September 11 – has been linked as a subscriber to a newsletter published by the pro-jihad site on which the instructions for firearms training in the United States originally appeared. Bahaji has been described as the “brains” of a German terrorist cell that provided direct logistical support for the terrorists who hijacked the jetliners. The site has been cited as supporting the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
“This document and the link to the cold-blooded assassins who carried out the suicide attacks show conclusively that our lax gun laws and our tolerance of the most extreme factions of the gun culture have turned America into a one-stop shopping mall and training playground for terrorists,” says Tom Diaz, VPC Senior Policy Analyst. “Since September 11, Americans agree that our country will never be the same and that we must make sacrifices – it is beyond time now for the Bush Administration to grasp this internal terror threat and to insist that its supporters in the National Rifle Association and the gun industry step up and make their share of the sacrifice.”
Diaz – author of the October 2001 VPC study Voting From the Rooftops: How the Gun Industry Armed Osama bin Laden, Other Foreign and Domestic Terrorists, and Common Criminals with 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles – points out that the anonymous authors of the jihad training document `zeroed in’ on specific elements of the American gun culture to exploit for military assault- oriented terror training. These include:
- Using public firearm training courses. “Some of them are only meant for security personnel but generally they will teach anyone,” explains the document. “Find one, book your place, go there, learn, come back home and keep it [to] yourself.”
- Training for military type combat assaults. The pamphlet advises, “Useful courses to learn are sniping, general shooting and other rifle courses,” and specifically discourages handgun training until rifle training is mastered.
- Obtaining military style weapons. “[I]t is perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms” such as assault rifles. “[O]btain an assault rifle legally, preferably AK-47 or variations, learn how to use it properly,” urges the paper.
- Avoiding illegal trading in firearms. “Respect the laws of the country you are in and avoid dealing in illegal firearms,” warns the document. “One can learn to operate many arms legally, so there is no need to spend years in prison for dealing in small, illegal firearms.”
Diaz adds that two recent VPC studies warn about the very points made in the terrorist documents. Voting from the Rooftops and the earlier One Shot, One Kill revealed that 50 caliber sniper rifles which can penetrate armor plate, destroy materiel infrastructure, down helicopters, and when loaded with armor-piercing incendiary ammunition explode high-volume fuel tanks and hazardous chemical storage tanks and pipelines can be purchased more easily than handguns in the U.S. Twenty-five of the weapons were purchased by the Al Qaeda terror network in the U.S. in the 1980s.
Ordinary Americans and terrorists alike can train to use 50 caliber sniper rifles and other weapons of war at the more than 1,800 shooting ranges in the United States some of which are on federal land. The nonchalant attitude in the U.S. that the terrorists are exploiting is illustrated in a December 2001 Guns & Ammo article entitled “Four .50s to Fool With.” The article asks, “Do you need a .50 BMG rifle? Probably not. But in America that’s not the issue. Nor should it be.” The author brags about test firing the guns at the Angeles Shooting Range north of Los Angeles.
“These terrorists’ own words starkly document that to prevent terrorism America must address its own weak gun laws,” states Diaz. “We leave Americans at deadly risk if we fail to do so. This chilling new information presents the NRA and its gun industry cohorts with a stark choice: support America or support terror.”