The information was found a year later on a floppy disk at the home of Babar Ahmad, a London resident due to face trial in the U.S. on terrorism charges and who had helped run Azzam Publications, an extremist website from which Abu-Jihaad had purchased jihadist videos. Between late 2000 and fall 2001, Abu-Jihaad had emailed Azzam Publications, with praise for al-Qaeda's "martyrdom operation" against the USS Cole in 2000 and for the "brave" mujahideen fighters.
Paul Rockwood, a former member of the U.S. Navy, created a "hit list" in 2010 of human targets for assassination or bombing. He had converted in 2001 and attended the Dar al-Arqam Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia at the same time that al-Awlaki preached there. Rockwood later claimed that he shared similar beliefs as the cleric, and was convicted in July 2010.
Semi Osman punctuated his time serving for the U.S. forces with extremist activity. He briefly served in the U.S. Army from 1998, before discharging and going on to host a terrorist training camp at his property in Bly, Oregon in 2000. A year later, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve and was part of the Supply Support Battalion One, Company F.
Some men had more fleeting careers with the military. Jeffrey Battle, member of a Portland cell that attempted to travel to Afghanistan in the period immediately after 9/11, had joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 1999. He had ten weeks of basic training and graduated in February 2000. Like Abdur-Raheem, Battle cited Malcolm X as crucial to his conversion.
Bryant Neal Vinas, convicted in 2009 for joining al-Qaeda in Pakistan and providing them with information about New York's Long Island Rail Road system in order to facilitate a terrorist attack, had joined the Army in 2002. However, he dropped out after three weeks, and converted to Islam in 2004.
It is impossible to find one single trend running through each of these cases that could shed light on why members of the U.S. military forces went from serving their country to attempting to destroy it. While some had left the Army at their time of offense, those who committed murder were still serving. Some converted prior to enlisting; others, during their service; and others afterward. Some had long careers in the armed forces, others a matter of weeks. There is also no one factor that pushed these individuals to turn against their country.
For those who committed offenses having been discharged, it was perhaps social disenfranchisement felt in leaving the Army. The high number of converts suggests that some individuals were searching for meaning - either in the Army or after leaving it - and found it in an extreme interpretation of religion. This is a plausible explanation for Harroun and Rockwood, while it is also interesting that a directionless individual such as Vinas, who had a troubled background, tried the Army before turning to Islam.