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U.S. officials say a “significant threat” could come from American citizens, some of them ex-convicts, who traveled to Yemen. The threat has put federal law enforcement on “heightened alert.”
“Most worrisome is a group of as many as three dozen former criminals who converted to Islam in prison, were released at the end of their sentences, and moved to Yemen, ostensibly to study Arabic,” said a Jan. 21, 2010 report by the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “U.S. officials told committee staff they fear that these Americans were radicalized in prison and traveled to Yemen for training.”
The report says there is no proof that the prisoners are training to be terrorists. However, it warns that several of the ex-prisoners have disappeared for extensive periods of time.
“Although there is no public evidence of any terrorist action by these individuals, law enforcement officials told committee staff members that several have ‘dropped off the radar’ for weeks at a time,” reads the report. “U.S. law enforcement officials said they are on heightened alert because of the potential threat from extremists carrying American passports and the related challenges involved in detecting and stopping homegrown operatives.”