House GOP: Ill. could be Jihadist hub

By Jake Sherman
|  Monday, Nov 16, 2009  |  Updated 8:14 AM CDT
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Illinois GOP: Leave the Terrorists at Gitmo

Mark Kirk and other Illinois Republicans wrote a letter decrying the Gitmo move.

Illinois will become “ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization” if President Barack Obama follows through on a plan being considered to bring Guantanamo detainees to a prison in the state’s northwestern corner, Republican House members wrote Sunday.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced earlier Sunday that the Obama administration is mulling the purchase of the hardly-used Thomson Correctional Center to house alleged terrorists from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Illinois Republican Reps. Mark Kirk – who is running for the Senate seat vacated by Obama – Peter Roskam, Judy Biggert and Don Mazullo responded in a letter to the president, pleading with him to keep detainees in the “$50 million Guantanamo Bay facility, and not on American soil.”

They will hold a news conference to further air their objections.

Durbin has said the move could create upwards of 2,000 jobs, but Roskam, who represents the suburbs of Chicago, said it would dissuade businesses from coming to the state.

“The Obama administration’s utter inability to create jobs here does not somehow make sending some of the world’s worst terrorists to our backyard a good idea,” Roskam said.

The news that the White House is considering housing detainees in Illinois comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the U.S. would try 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court – and one just a stone’s throw away from Ground Zero in Manhattan.

Both moves are part of the White House’s push to fulfill Obama’s campaign pledge to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

But even if detainees are transferred to American soil, it’s not certain that they would be housed in Illinois – facilities in Montana and Colorado are also being considered, Durbin said.

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