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Archive for Monday, August 8, 2005

Police arrest suspected militant at U.S.’ request

August 8, 2005

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— A suspected Islamic militant deported to Britain was arrested Sunday on a U.S. warrant accusing him of conspiring to organize a training camp in Oregon to prepare jihad fighters in Afghanistan, police said.

The arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British citizen of Indian descent, comes as British prosecutors said they would consider treason charges against any Islamic extremists who express support for terrorism.

The U.S. warrant accuses Aswat of conspiring with others between October 1999 and April 2000 to set up a camp in Bly, Ore., aimed at training and equipping individuals to "fight jihad in Afghanistan," police said in a statement.

Aswat, 30, had been detained in Zambia since July 20, where he was questioned about 20 phone calls reportedly made on his South African cell phone with some of the bombers responsible for the July 7 transit attacks in London that killed 52 people and the four bombers. British newspaper reports quoting intelligence sources there have in recent days played down the possibility Aswat masterminded the London bombings.

He was deported Sunday to Britain, said Zambian Home Affairs Secretary Peter Mumba.

Aswat is one of two associates of the Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri who are referred to but not named or charged in a 2002 indictment issued by a federal grand jury in Seattle against a Muslim convert from the area, officials have said. The other is Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swede, who was convicted of weapons violations in Sweden in 2003.

Aswat and Kassir "inspected the proposed jihad training camp at the Bly property ... and they and others participated in firearms training and viewed a video recording on the subject of improvised poisons" in November and December 1999, the indictment said.

Under U.S. law, the United States has 60 days to secure an indictment against Aswat.

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