Last week, the U.S. drone strike in Yemen that killed U.S.-born al Qaeda leader and terrorist recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki also killed al Qaeda magazine Inspire publisher Samir Khan. Now it turns out that Khan grew up on Long Island: Newsday reports that his "classmates remember his evolution to an anti-American radical. Samir Khan, 25... was about 7 years old when he came to the United States [from Pakistan]. He lived in Westbury for about a decade, attending W.T. Clarke High School in the East Meadow school district from 1999 to 2003," before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina.
A classmate said, "Before he became so fanatic, almost terrorist kind of guy -- before that, he was a pretty normal guy. Then all of a sudden he just became different." His father, Zafar Khan, was worried about his son, and family friend Steve Elturk, imam of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, Michigan, told Newsday:
[T]he elder Khan approached him seeking religious guidance for his son. Elturk spoke to Samir Khan, visited the family homes in Westbury and later in Charlotte, and eventually had Samir Khan come to his Michigan mosque.
Elturk said he found Khan to be a troubled young man who, after feeling isolated and different from high school classmates, turned to extremism.
"He developed these militant views through the Internet, and he had arguments with his father about it," Elturk said. "He became very much convinced that America is an imperialist country that supports dictators and supports Israel blindly. . . . He was not promoting violence, but he had the opinion that the use of indiscriminate killing was justified."
In the 2003 high school yearbook, Khan calls himself a "Mujahid," which is a "a Muslim engaged in 'jihad' or struggle, who wants 'to go overseas and study Islamic Law and other subjects that deal with Islam.' It includes a religious saying under his name: 'If you give satan an inch, he'll be a ruler.'"
Rep. Peter King (R), everyone's Muslim Radicalization expert, said, "It's shocking to see that a young man who is raised on Long Island would turn out to be a traitor to his country... Samir Khan shows how radical Islam has even penetrated our communities."
His parents, who still live in Charlotte, issued a statement objecting to their son's killing, "Our late son Samir Khan never broke any law and was never implicated of any crime.... Why couldn't there have been a capture and trial? Where is the justice?" However, a terrorism expert at Duke says, "If you join an armed foreign force that is in conflict with the U.S., you have become a legitimate target."