The FBI has intensified an investigation into groups in the United States associated with Wahhabism, the puritanical strain of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reports. The newspaper says that what began as separate investigations in Idaho, Michigan, New York, and Virginia has coalesced into interrelated probes. Agents are trying to determine whether links among groups suggest a network whose purpose is to incite violent jihad, or holy war, and recruit people to fight it.
Charges have been brought against 19 people associated with the groups, and seven have pleaded guilty. Authorities are investigating the use of Internet sites, mosques, charities, and Islamic conferences as possible venues for recruitment. U.S. prisons, where several groups have tried to spread their brand of Islam with distribution of Korans and other literature, have come under scrutiny.
The probe has expanded, with agents and prosecutors aided by access to previously off-limits information gathered in noncriminal intelligence investigations, the result of powers gained in part through the USA Patriot Act, the law approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.