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The Fort Dix Terrorist Case and Profiling

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By Moshe Phillips - January 2, 2009

The convictions of the five terrorists who plotted to murder American soldiers at Fort Dix in 2007 should cause some much needed attention to be placed on the danger we face from terrorists working as taxi drivers.

Faten Shnewer, the mother of defendant Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, has received international media attention in the aftermath of the guilty verdict. She told reporters that the FBI informants should be the ones in jail. "Not my son and his friends." Mohamad lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and worked as a taxi driver. Shnewer was arrested by the FBI while in his taxi at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Shockingly, the pattern of terrorists working as taxi drivers has gone virtually unnoticed by U.S. security officials. Steps have not been taken to use profiling to investigate the backgrounds of taxi drivers.

Six people were killed and over 1,000 injured by the Islamic terrorists who bombed in the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. The terrorists parked a Ryder rental van at One World Trade Center, the North Tower, and some members of the terrorist cell responsible for the attack drove taxis. Many of the Islamic terror cells that have been uncovered in America have included Islamic immigrants that drove taxicabs.

Ramzi Mohammed Yousef was one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center terrorist attack. Yousef packed the Ryder van with 1,500 lbs of explosives. Yousef's uncle is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the key al-Qaeda terrorist leader that the 9/11 Commission Report labeled as "the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks." It has been reported that Ramzi Yousef drove a cab while living in New York.

Mahmud Abouhalima was convicted as being another perpetrator of the 1993 World Trade Center attack. Abouhalima worked as a taxi driver in New York City for five years from 1986 to 1991.

The 1990 assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane is the event most terrorism experts now consider to be the first al Qaeda terrorist attack on United States soil. El Sayid Nosair, the convicted assassin of Rabbi Kahane, was later convicted for his role as a conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center attack. The FBI believes that Nosair planned to make his escape after he murdered Rabbi Kahane in a taxi driven by a member of his terrorist cell. Andrew C. McCarthy reported on Nosair and his terrorist cell in his must read March 2008 Commentary magazine article titled When Jihad Came to America. McCarthy notes that Nosair was working with Mahmud Abouhalima when he assassinated Rabbi Kahane and that when he fled the murder scene: "He was almost certainly looking for a particular yellow taxi, the one usually driven by his associate Mahmud Abouhalima."

Taxis also played a part in the investigations that eventually led to the arrest and conviction of radical attorney Lynne Stewart for conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. According to court documents in July 2001 one of Stewart's co-defendants told terrorist leader Omar Abdel-Rahman during a prison visit that a taxi had been purchased for the group.

Another terrorist named Raed Hijazi drove a taxi when he lived in Boston. He went on trial in Jordan for plotting to blow up a large Jordanian hotel and two Christian tourist sites on New Year's Eve December 1999 in a terror plot that was designed to murder celebrants of the new millennium.

Yet another terrorist, Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, lived in the Boston area between 1997 and 1999. While in Massachusetts he drove a taxi leased from the Boston Cab Co. Elzahabi is known to have associated with three other former taxi drivers, who later were alleged by the FBI to have separate ties to terrorist related activities.

Janice L. Kephart, author of the Center for Immigration Studies' September 2005 Immigration and Terrorism: Moving Beyond the 9/11 Staff Report on Terrorist Travel, writes the following about still another Islamic taxi terrorist:

"Before the 9/11 attacks, the FBI identified Mohammad Kamal Elzahabi as a suspected terrorist. Yet in early 2002, Elzahabi received a commercial driver's license to operate a school bus and transport hazardous materials. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Division of Driver Vehicle and Licensing, the FBI 'ran his name through a database and cleared him.' In June 2004, Elzahabi's license for transporting toxic materials was still valid, though his school bus driver's license had been canceled in February for reasons unknown." "From 1997 to 1998 Elzahabi lived in Boston, working as a cabdriver. There he associated with Raed Hijazi, whom he aided in obtaining a Massachusetts driver's license in 1997. Raed Hijazi (born in California to Palestinian parents and later radicalized) was later convicted in Jordan for masterminding the failed Millennium bombing plot that had targeted American and Israeli tourists in that country. While in Boston, he lived with Bassam Kanj, who had married an American in 1988 and was later naturalized. Kanj helped Hijazi lease a taxi that officials believe was used to fund the Jordan plan. Also working with these taxi drivers was Nabil Al-Marabh."

Kephart clearly illustrates that there is something wrong here. Michael Smerconish, a Philadelphia talk radio show host and newspaper columnist, has pointed out that profiling is needed. Every one of the 9/11 hijackers shared a common profile and Smerconish warns we are negligent in not allowing law enforcement to utilize profiling. In his 2004 book Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11 and his 2006 Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism - True Stories That Should Be Fiction Smerconish illustrated the necessities of common sense security measures versus the foolishness of political correctness. Smerconish received high praise for Flying Blind from John Lehman, a 9/11 Commissioner and a former Secretary of the Navy; "Michael Smerconish has produced a shocking, accurate and very readable contribution to the debate surrounding airport security."

Airport security, immigration security, border security and taxi license application screening are all less effective without profiling. A failure to be vigilant and use common sense policies could have catastrophic results. Taxi drivers have special access to airports, military bases and other sensitive facilities far beyond that of normal drivers. Security policy makers must address the pattern of terrorists working as taxi drivers and do everything to prevent would-be terrorists from getting behind the wheel of a cab or gaining entry into our country.

Moshe Phillips is a member of the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans For a Safe Israel - AFSI. The chapter's website is at: and Moshe's blog can be found at

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