As a veteran of the Iraq War, I find terrorism in all its forms, vile.  Religion in my own particular view only furthers collectivist thinking, and downplays logical thought.  I will never stand in judgment of anyone’s beliefs as we are all free to choose our own path, and no group should stand and be judged for the deranged and insane acts of a finite group of extremists.

When confronting religious terrorism the last place one would think to look would be on Long Island. Brentwood was the town I called home for 18 years. A town with roughly just over 60,000 residents known for its large Hispanic community that makes up 65% of the population is known for “The Green Machine”, its multiple New York State award winning marching band.  The town is not exactly on the Department of Homeland Security’s radar as a hotbed for homegrown terrorism or religious fanatics.

Marcos Alonso Zea changed Brentwood’s image on October 18th, 2013 when he was apprehended in London attempting to link up with Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Zea, or “Al Zea” as he was known after his conversion to Islam, is of Guatemalan and Colombian ancestry which, in Brentwood is not unusual, his sudden interest in homemade weapons, The Anarchist Cookbook and disposable silencers, discovered through federal investigations however was of definite concern. Zea also allegedly attempted to help send his then 18-year-old friend, Justin Kaliebe, travel Yemen in January 2013 following his own denial of a travel visa by British officials. Kaliebe was later arrested trying to travel to Oman and was charged with attempting to provide support to a terrorist group.

A law enforcement official familiar with the case expressed feelings with Yahoo News stating that the two are not part of a larger terrorist network operating in New York, and that they were disillusioned and brainwashed by propaganda, and not necessarily recruited by Al-Qaeda. “This is all lies. All fake. I raised my son, I know who he is,” says Sandra Zea, Mother of the accused, speaking out after the October 2013 hearing with Yahoo News. Her son Marcos was facing charges that include conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and two counts of attempting to provide support to a terrorist organization among other charges of obstruction to which he had pleaded not guilty.  He has since changed his plea to guilty on one count of obstruction and one count of providing material support of terrorism.

Zea’s computer was seized by federal agents, who discovered a downloaded magazine Inspire, the English language magazine of Al-Qaeda.  This “journalist” turd has articles such as “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” and “What to Expect in Jihad.”  After reading through these articles myself, I am laughably disgusted.  The blatant tone of this piece of trash as well as its graphics looks like a horrific angry teenager’s newsletter.  All of these articles are freely available through open sources and even include e-mail addresses asking for article submissions!  To be frank, the quality of the writing is deplorable and redundant regardless of its content.  “What to Expect in Jihad,” from the September 2010 issue outlines how to cope with depression and states “When coming to a land of jihad it important to speak the local language fluently”.  Articles such as these deal with issues such as full cultural assimilation and full dedication to the cause of Holy War.  Zea was ultimately sentenced to 25 years behind bars and will have to live with the implications of his ludicrous actions.

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