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Detained Americans in Pakistan for "Jihad"

Pakistani children play in front of a house where police reportedly arrested five American Muslims in Sargodha, Pakistan, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. Five young American Muslims arrested in Pakistan met with representatives of an al-Qaida linked group and asked for training but were turned down because they lacked references from trusted militants, a Pakistani law enforcement official said Thursday. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary
Updated at 5:35 a.m. Eastern.

Five Americans arrested at a house linked to a militant group in eastern Pakistan have told investigators they came to the country to take part in "jihad" or holy war, police said Thursday.

A police source in Sargodha tells CBS News' Sami Yousafzai that a team of FBI agents traveled from Lahore to meet the five young men Wednesday. The agents examined their passports and other identification documents and confiscated some personal belongings, according to the source.

U.S. officials believe the five are men who were reported missing more than a week ago by their families in the Washington, D.C., area. The families asked the FBI for help after finding a farewell video left by the men showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.

The men, ages 19 to 25, were picked up Wednesday at a house in the city of Sargodha that has been linked to the banned militant organization Jaish-e-Mohammed, officers said. Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based group, is alleged to have ties to al Qaeda.

Police chief Javed Islam said authorities had shared findings of their probe with FBI officials who had arrived in Sargodha. The U.S. Embassy, however, would not confirm if the FBI had sent representatives to the area.

"These young Americans are in our custody," the police chief said. "They are telling us that they came to Pakistan for jihad."

Pakistan to Tighten Border Controls on Westerners

Islam said investigators were trying to determine if the men had established contacts with any militants.

However, a Pakistani government official in Sargodha, who asked not to be identified, told Yousafzai that information obtained as a result of the Americans' arrest led to a subsequent raid in the city, during which key Jaish-e-Mohammed figure Qari Saeed was arrested.

Saeed is suspected of masterminding a 2007 attack on a bus carrying Pakistani Air Force personnel in Sargodha - home to the Air Force's largest base. At least five members of the force were killed in that attack.

Pakistan is home to a slew of militant groups waging a violent struggle against the government, mostly in the northwest, and is also seen as a global hub for al Qaeda. Some Western nations are worried that citizens - especially of Pakistani origin - are traveling to the country to connect with al Qaeda or take part in training or indoctrination sessions.

Terror analysts say the Zamzam case may be the latest example of U.S. citizens and residents reaching out directly to international terror organizations, Orr reports.

Chicagoan David Headley, who was arraigned Wednesday in Illinois, is charged with scouting targets for the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba in their devastating attack on Mumbai, India.

Denver shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi, accused of plotting to attack the New York subways, allegedly trained in a Pakistan camp with a top al Qaeda henchman. And two dozen American Somalis, most from Minneapolis, have recently left the U.S. to fight alongside the terror group al Shabaab in Somalia, reports Orr.

Asked about the five men Thursday during a news conference in Oslo, Norway, where he was to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama declined to comment on the case, citing ongoing investigations.

Mr. Obama sought to stem any potential anti-Muslim backlash at home by praising Muslim Americans' "extraordinary contributions" in the post-Sept. ll era.

He also said Muslim Americans' "fierce patriotism" and integration had helped the U.S. avoid some of the problems "we have seen in other countries."

However, the president said, "We have to constantly be mindful that some of these twisted ideologies are available over the Internet," and that those messages were particularly dangerous to younger audiences.

Three of the arrested Americans are of Pakistani descent, one is of Egyptian descent and the other has Yemeni origins, police officer Tahir Gujjar said.

Two other police officials said Thursday the men were cooperating with investigators after first giving conflicting statements. Investigators seized a laptop computer along with extremist literature from the house.

Leaders of an Islamic American group said the families of the five men asked the FBI for help and were particularly disturbed to see the video message.

"One person appeared in that video and they made references to the ongoing conflict in the world, and that young Muslims have to do something," said Nihad Awad, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

"The video's about 11 minutes and it's like a farewell. And they did not specify what they would be doing. But just hearing and seeing videos similar on the Internet, it just made me uncomfortable," Awad said. The video has not been made public.

Despite the video, sources tell CBS News they do not believe the group had attended any terror training camp in Pakistan, and it was too early to conclude that the men had terrorist intentions on their trip to the Asian country.

The raided house was believed to have been used by Jaish-e-Mohammed, the officers said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Members of the network have been accused in the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, and in a bombing in the city of Karachi the same year that killed 11 French engineers.

A senior government official who also spoke on condition of anonymity said authorities detained some Pakistanis alleged to have helped the Americans.

Islam said the arrested Americans had spent the past few days in Sargodha, 125 miles south of the capital, Islamabad.