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Archive for Thursday, August 29, 2002

Six charged with supporting terror groups

August 29, 2002

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— Federal grand juries charged six men with conspiring to support Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network Wednesday as the government escalated its efforts to stifle the flow of money and assistance from U.S. soil to overseas terrorist groups.

In Seattle, American citizen and Muslim activist James Ujaama was accused in a two-count indictment of trying to set up a "jihad (holy war) training camp" on the West Coast and providing support and resources to al-Qaida.

The indictment accused him of leading discussions about creating poison to use on the public and firebombing vehicles. Ujaama has repeatedly denied any ties to terrorism.

Separately, four men who had been in the United States since at least 2000 were charged in Detroit with operating a "covert underground support unit" and a "sleeper operational combat cell" for a radical Islamic movement allied with al-Qaida. A fifth man whose full name isn't known by the government was also named in the indictment.

Their indictment said the men plotted attacks on sites in Turkey and Jordan and possessed a videotape that appeared to case U.S. landmarks such as Disneyland in California and the MGM Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Both indictments used a law barring people living in the United States from providing "material support and resources" to terrorist groups.

U.S. officials said Wednesday they expected several more such indictments in coming months as the FBI, Customs Service and other federal agencies attempt to block money and operational support from the United States from reaching terror groups overseas.

"The evidence that is being developed suggests that America has been a piggy bank for certain terror organizations to the tune of tens of millions of dollars," said a senior law enforcement official directly involved in the investigation.

Agents believe they have uncovered a broad effort by U.S. residents many who are citizens or legal residents to use credit card thefts, illegal cigarette sales, diverted charitable funds and cash smuggled in airline luggage to enrich anti-American and anti-Israeli terror groups, the officials said.

The indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Detroit named Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan, Youssef Hmimssa, Farouk Ali-Haimoud and a man only known by the first name Abdella. Koubriti, Hannan, Hmimssa and Ali-Haimoud have been in and out of custody since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Abdella remains at large.

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