Fact Check

Mohammad Junaid

Did the son of a woman rescued from the WTC decide to become a terrorist?

Published Nov 12, 2001


Claim:   The son of a woman rescued from the World Trade Center decided to join the Taliban.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2001]

Mohammad Junaid's mother was led to safety from the blazing World Trade Centre by New York's brave firefighters and policemen.

But 26-year-old Junaid's thank you has shocked New York.

In return for saving his mum's life, the Islamic-American has turned traitor and bought a one-way ticket to Pakistan to sign up for the Taliban and kill Americans.

Junaid left on what could be a suicide mission one week after his mother — an office worker on the ninth floor of the north tower — was among the survivors.

About 4500 others were not so lucky, and lost their lives in the terror strikes on September 11.

"My mother was in the north tower of the World Trade Centre but I still feel absolutely no remorse about what happened on September 11," Junaid said.

"I saw the towers collapse but felt nothing for the Americans inside. I may hold an American passport, but I am not an American — I am a Muslim."

Junaid offered his own personal jihad against his own country when in Islamabad, Pakistan, as he waited to cross the border into Afghanistan to join the Taliban.

"I did not feel any remorse for the Americans who died," Junaid told Britain's ITN television network.

"I'm willing to kill the Americans. I will kill every American that I see in Afghanistan. And I'll kill every American soldier that I see in Pakistan."

Junaid's parents migrated from Pakistan.

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 al Qaeda network. The possibility that they might be spies is far too great for either entity to risk taking a chance on these men.

Barbara "turncoated" Mikkelson

Last updated:   8 March 2008

  Sources Sources:

    Barnard, Anne.   "Muslim Warrior Says NYC Is Home."

    The Boston Globe.   6 November 2001   (p. A12).

    Johnston, Damon.   "Traitor Wants to Kill His Mother's Saviours."

    The [Sydney] Daily Telegraph.   6 November 2001   (p. 5).

    Parker, Nick.   "Abdul from Dagenham."

    The Sun.   30 October 2001.

    The [Glasgow] Herald.   "Two Americans Killed in Bombing of Kabul."

    30 October 2001   (p. 5).

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