Five Americans jailed in Pakistan for terror ties

Five missing Washington-area men, including one Howard University student, were under arrest in Pakistan on suspicion of plotting terrorist acts, according to news reports.

Worried family members had enlisted the help of the FBI in locating the young men, ranging in age from 19 to 25, more than a week ago.

One of the missing men reportedly left behind a farewell video depicting scenes of war and vowing that Muslims would be avenged. NPR reported that officials believed the men were heading to a jihadi training camp.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the U.S. embassy in Islamabad is also pursuing the matter.

“If they are American citizens, we of course are going to be very interested in the charges that they've been detained on and what sort of circumstances they're being held,” said Kelly.

In Pakistan, deputy superintendent of police Tahir Gujjar of Sargodha said five Americans were picked up in a raid on a house about 125 miles from Islamabad in the eastern province of Punjab, according to news reports.

The five include two Pakistan-Americans, two Yemeni-Americans and an Egyptian-American. All are from northern Virginia's sizeable Muslim community.

The arrests coincided with a not guilty plea by a Chicago-area Pakistani-American accused of scouting targets for the deadly hotel attack in India last year.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to comment directly on the case of the five area men who were arrested, but said the administration remains focused on the threat of recruiting by extremists.

“We know we've got to work more closely with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to root out the infrastructure of terrorism that continues to recruit and train people,” Clinton said.

The FBI said in a statement from its Washington field office that U.S. officials are trying to find out why the five were in Pakistan.

Officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations became involved in the case at the behest of the men's families and reviewed the 11-minute video the five left behind.

“The Muslim community has taken the lead in bringing this case to the attention of law enforcement authorities and will offer ongoing cooperation with the FBI as the investigation moves forward,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement.

The organization was approached by the men's families, after the five went missing without a word in late November. One of the men, Ramy Zamsam, is a dental student at Howard University.

At least one of the five reportedly kept in contact with his family claiming to be in the U.S., but information on caller ID indicated he was out of the country.

The Associated Press was reporting that no charges have been filed against the five men, however and investigation is ongoing to determine whether they had any links to extremist groups.

jmason@washingtonexaminer.com

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