Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Top 3 Colorado terrorists: No wonder Janet Napolitano is coming to town

Janet Napolitano is in town today for the National Fusion Center Conference, a meeting of the country's joint intelligence centers. Not included in that local fusion lineup are some of our homegrown terrorism experts, including John Elway, who narrated "8 Signs of Terrorism," a film at the CELL, our home-grown terrorism museum, and independent Osama-hunter Gary Faulkner. But then, consider Colorado's top three terrorists:

1. Jihad Jamie. Last week, 32-year-old lovelorn Leadville resident Jamie Paulin Ramirez pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists, following in the footsteps of co-defendant Colleen LaRose. Ramirez had been recruited to the cause on the Internet. She then headed to Ireland, where she married a suspected terrorist in an Islamic ceremony. Instead of eternal love, she now faces fifteen years in prison.

2. Najibullah Zazi. The Aurora man seemed like a mild-mannered shuttle driver obsessed with beauty-supply products. Products, it turned out, that Zazi could use to build bombs that would immobilize Manhatthan. AHe was arrested in September 2009, and the following February, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization. Zazi, who trained in Pakistani camps, said he wanted to set off bombs in the New York subways because he was unhappy with the U.S. government's use of predator drones that killed civilians. His sentencing has been postponed until June 2011.

3. Eugene Tafoya. Back in 1980, Faisal Zagallai, a 36-year-old Libyan graduate student studying at Colorado State University and an outspoken critic of Moammar Gadhafi, was shot by a 45-year-old former Green Beret named Eugene Tafoya, working on behalf of Gadhafi or his agents, who was charged with attempted murder and conspiracy. A jury eventually found him guilty only of assault -- but then, this was two decades before 9/11 and the country's intensified focus on terrorism.

But for Colorado's homegrown hits on the terrorism trail, there have also been misses. Ojore Lutalo was headed east on an Amtrak train in January 2010 when another passenger overheard his cell phone conversation and thought he was talking terrorism; he was arrested and jailed in La Junta. Lutalo later filed suit against La Junta for false arrest, and last month, the city settled with with 62-year-old New Jersey man for interrupting his trip home after Lutalo attended the Anarchist Book Fair in Los Angeles.

See our top fifteen names for the CELL here.

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