My friend and former New America Foundation colleague Paul Cruickshank has been at the forefront of CNN’s investigative journalism on the nuts and bolts of Islamic terrorism. In one of Cruickshank’s recent shows that he did with CNN’s Nic Robertson, they showed how devastating a small bomb on a plane could be. This time, they are exploring the context of how an American citizen became a tool of Pakistan-based terrorists.
Cruickshank’s and his colleague’s CNN hour long documentary titled American Al Qaeda: The Path to Terror, An Anderson Cooper 360 Documentary will air on Saturday May 15th and Sunday May 16th at 8pm Eastern, and will bring viewers the story of how a young American from Long Island, New York, became an al-Qaeda terrorist.
The hour is filled with exclusives details about the life of Bryant Neal Vinas, including interviews with his family, best friend, neighbors, and confidants. Before he was caught, Bryant Neal Vinas traveled to Pakistan, connected with Al-Qaeda leaders, participated in three Al-Qaeda training sessions, fired at U.S. troops and helped plot a terrorist plan aimed at the Long Island Rail Road system with the intention of killing American civilians.
CNN’s senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, along with CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank and CNN senior producer Ken Shiffman, spent almost a year uncovering how and why Bryant Neal Vinas went from a quiet teenager who grew up in suburbia to a jihadist.
Our team has tracked Vinas’ story across three continents and will provide a definitive account of his transformation with the help of family, close friends, and top counter-terrorism officials.
American Al Qaeda will provide an exclusive interview with the man in Pakistan who counter terrorism officials suspect helped Vinas connect with jihadists. The hour will also include exclusive access to a letter Bryant wrote in prison and sent to his best friend.
CNN has a dedicated webpage on Vinas which includes an in-depth report on the never before told story of how Vinas was radicalized by Islamist extremists in New York and how he managed to join Al Qaeda’s ranks in the mountains of Pakistan.
The webpage also includes interviews with top U.S. counter-terrorrism officials and experts, a timeline of Vinas’s road to Al Qaeda, interviews with close associates of Vinas, interviews with individuals who allegedly helped radicalize Vinas, analysis of the current threat from homegrown terrorism, additional exclusive video content, and exclusive pictures.
I realize that this show will be controversial with some — but I think serious, level-headed reporting on how Americans have been swept up into terrorist networks abroad is important to understand.
— Steve Clemons