SAN DIEGO – Team 10 is learning new details about San Diego’s deep ties to terrorism following the death of a former San Diego City College student killed while fighting for ISIS. Douglas McCain went to school in San Diego before traveling to Syria.
“Is it a surprise? No, it’s not. There will probably be more names forthcoming,” said terrorism expert Glen Winn.
A classified document obtained by the website The Intercept shows San Diego ranks fourth when it comes to known or suspected terrorists. Winn believes San Diego ranks high when it comes to terrorism in part due to what he calls “U.S. treasure.”
“The U.S. Navy and its ships and also nuclear submarines,” Winn said. “Of course, you also have a lot of training facilities in and around San Diego County.
Team 10 first broke the story that two of the 9/11 hijackers trained in San Diego.
Anwar Al-Awlaki, an imam at a La Mesa mosque between 1996 and 2000, was behind two failed terror plots against the United States before he was killed in a 2011 drone stroke.
Last year, four Somali immigrants, including another popular imam at a City Heights mosque, were convicted of sending thousands of dollars to terrorist group, Al-Shabab.
Winn said there is a common factor between the cities that rank in the top five for terrorists: New York, Dearborn, Houston, San Diego, and Chicago. That thread is the population already living in those cities.
“There’s a colony already in existence they can go to get sympathy, money, food, housing and somebody might just try and blend them in to society,” Winn said.
The classified document also shows there are 680,000 people on the government watch list, but reasons behind the expanding list are unclear.
Another terrorism expert, Ron Bee, says that is likely intentional.
“That’s like handing someone a road map,” Bee told Team 10 in early August. He believes travel plans are closely watched and that could play a role.