Last month, the federal government accused 11 Muslim men in Northern Virginia of being part of a conspiracy to support “violent jihad” overseas. The Washington Post says that prosecutors “have trumpeted the case as a key step in the war on terrorism, though the men were not accused of planning attacks against the United States. In fact, while prosecutors have said they plan to upgrade the charges, the men remain accused under a nearly century-old, seldom-enforced law forbidding Americans to carry out military expeditions against nations friendly with the United States. They have pleaded not guilty.”
In a detailed recounting of what is publicly known about the cawe so far, the Post says that the accused “appear stunned to find themselves in the cross hairs of the war on terrorism. Many of their neighbors and friends describe them as quiet residents who blended easily into the Washington suburbs.” The newspaper calls it a story of friends in their twenties and thirties who met at paintball games or at lectures at an Islamic center. No one compares with with the shadowy foreigners involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.