Five American Muslim youths arrested by Pakistani authorities on suspicion of terror links have shown no remorse about their plans to commit terrorist acts and one has even said they should be hanged so that they could become martyrs, a senior police official said on Monday.
"They have no remorse about their plans to commit terror acts. Rather, they regret that they could not lay their lives while also killing some 'US imperialists'," said Usman Anwar, the police chief of Sargodha district where the youths were arrested earlier this month.
Anwar quoted 22-year-old Ramy Zamzam, one of the arrested youths, as saying: "Since our plan to embrace 'shahadat' (martyrdom) could not materialize, we want to become martyrs in another way hang us."
The other four youths did not disagree with Zamzam in this regard, said Anwar, who is part of the joint investigation team that is interrogating the youths in Lahore.
Zamzam, Waqar Hussain Khan, 22, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, Iman Hasan Yemer, 17 and Omar Farooq, 24, were arrested in Sargodha, located 200 km from Islamabad, on charges of planning terror attacks in Pakistani and abroad.
Anwar said they had been booked under provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act whereby they could face life imprisonment. The youths wanted to go Afghanistan to "fight against US forces", he said.
Since they believed the US is responsible for the miseries of Muslims worldwide, they also had plans to hit US facilities in Pakistan, Anwar told PTI.
Pakistani authorities had questioned the youths during five "long sessions", he said.
"They are quite composed and very clear about what they were going to do. They hate US policies in the Muslim world, especially in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan," Anwar said, adding they appeared to be "happy" whenever they heard of US troops being killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Though the boys have no strong religious background, they are inclined to extremism because of what they describe as 'US brutality in Muslim countries'," Anwar said.
On arriving in Pakistan, the youths contacted the militant groups Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Jaish-e-Mohammed but were turned away by both.
Anwar said they were so "desperate to wage holy war" that they decided to form their own group to "sacrifice their lives for Islam".
"The boys told us that they came to Pakistan after an Al Qaida operative named Saifullah, which is probably a code name, assured them through emails that he would help them in achieving their plans. They got upset when they lost contact with Saifullah after reaching Pakistan and sought help from other militant groups," he said.
Anwar said a FBI team had returned to the US after interrogating the youths and it was probably investigating "other students or their friends in their hometown of Alexandria in Virginia".
The youths had been provided English translations of the Quran at their request and spent most of their time reading the holy book, he said.
Anwar clarified that Omar Farooq's father Khalid Farooq, who was arrested along with the youths, had not been charged so far by authorities.
"Though he provided shelter to the accused, we have spared him. On Khalid Farooq's request, he has been allowed to stay with his son in the Lahore interrogation centre," he said.
Responding to a petition filed by a rights group, the Lahore High Court has barred Pakistani authorities from deporting or handing over the youths to any foreign agency, including the FBI.