GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — A jailed ex-jihadist testified at the war court Thursday that, as an American al Qaeda recruit in Afghanistan, he was twice shown a two-hour propaganda film created by Osama bin Laden's media secretary — and was horror-struck.
''The target was clearly the United States and Israel. I was surprised and didn't want no part of that,'' said Buffalo, N.Y., native Yassein Taher, 30, now serving an eight-year federal sentence as a convicted terrorist of the so-called Lackawanna Six.
Other al Qaeda recruits at the Farouq training camp watched the video glorifying the 2000 suicide bombing of the $1 billion USS Cole off Aden, Yemen, and shouted Allahu akbar, ''God is great,'' said Taher, testifying in a courtroom awash with federal marshals and military guards.
"I was surprised, shocked. And I was afraid.''
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So he and fellow New Yorkers who had gone to Afghanistan to train for the Chechen jihad made up an excuse, and quit al Qaeda weapons training camp early. They told their trainers, Taher said, that they wanted to go home to get their wives away from an un-Islamic atmosphere — and never returned.
They were back in the United States by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The FBI uncovered the so-called sleeper cell after 9/11.
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