Written by FBI Press Release
They were a couple of young Americans with terror on their minds, two middle-class kids barely out of high school who lived seemingly normal lives in and around Atlanta while secretly taking up the mantle of violent jihad, who in the span of a year went from being extremist wannabes to trusted brothers of terrorist operatives across the globe.
Now, following their convictions in federal court earlier this year and sentencings this week, they are each headed to prison for quite some time.
Their names are Ehsanul Islam Sadequee and Syed Haris Ahmed, and their story is indicative of both the evolving homegrown extremist threat and the FBI's post 9/11 intelligence-driven investigations.
When Sadequee and Ahmed met at a midtown Atlanta mosque, neither was yet 21. Ahmed, who was born in Pakistan and moved to this country at about age 12, was a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech. Sadequee, a Bangladeshi-American born in Virginia, was working at an Atlanta non-profit while living at home with his mother and siblings in the suburb of Roswell.
The two soon became friends, finding that they shared a similar interest: violent jihad. They started spending hours online-chatting with each other, watching terrorist recruitment videos, and meeting like-minded extremists.
But they clearly wanted to do more than just stand on the sidelines. Fueled by their growing connections in cyberspace, Sadequee and Ahmed made a series of journeys that drew them further and further into a web of terror.
In late 2004, they traveled to rural northwest Georgia, shooting paintball guns and practicing attack techniques as part of basic paramilitary training.
What Sadequee and Ahmed didn't know was that for some time, they were being tracked by the FBI and its partners. In part two of our story later this week, we'll talk about how our investigation unfolded and interview an Atlanta FBI agent and two Bureau execs.
Continue to Part 2