Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The son of a woman rescued from the World Trade Center decided to join the Taliban.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
Origins: The story of Mohammad Junaid's defection to the Taliban has been widely reported in the world press. In a nutshell, some aspects of the tale do stand up to scrutiny, but the key ones are as yet unsubstantiated.
As of October 30, a Mohammad Junaid was in Pakistan with the stated intent of joining the Taliban's holy war against the USA. He claimed to be the grandson of Pakistani immigrants to the United States and to have left a high-paying job as a Java programmer with a New York firm (variously claimed to be a $70,000- or $140,000-a-year
Those attempting to verify the details of Junaid's story are stymied in their efforts. He refuses to provide checkable information about himself, claiming that to do so would endanger family and friends. Other than his presence in Pakistan, nothing about him can be confirmed — not where he went to school, what firm he worked for, or where he lived. He further declines to even say if "Mohammad Junaid" is his legal name. (Checks of various New York City public records for a Mohammad Junaid produced no verifying information).
Given that nothing is known about this man, his story is highly suspect. As for the aspect of it that places his mother on the ninth floor of one of the assaulted World Trade Towers, that too is wholly unverified at this time.
Those tempted to take everything Junaid says at face value should keep in mind there are always those who attempt to insert themselves into high profile events just for the media attention. (Our page detailing five cases of those who publicly played upon others' sympathies by falsely claiming to have lost loved ones in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers serves as a good reminder that folks with astonishing or heartbreaking tales to tell are not always what they proclaim themselves to be.)
Junaid is clearly a Westerner who has come to join up with the Taliban, though. In this, he is not alone — at least two British Muslims (Hassan Butt and Abdul Monim) are also attempting the same thing.
It's far from likely any Westerner, no matter how devout a Muslim or how fervent a believer in the cause, would be welcomed with open arms by the Taliban or the
Barbara "turncoated" Mikkelson
Last updated: 8 March 2008
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