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College Park, Maryland Arrested on Terrorism Charges

Part of the “Virginia Jihad & “PAINTBALL” Case”

16 September 2005: A Maryland man who federal authorities say served as a research assistant to a controversial Muslim leader in the Washington area has been charged with providing equipment and support to a banned terrorist group in Pakistan. Ali Asad Chandia was arrested on the evening of Sept. 15, 2005, at his home in College Park, Maryland. Chandia is scheduled to make an initial appearance today at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virgnia, and his arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 23, 2005.
But a lawyer for the man, Ali Asad Chandia, said the charges amounted to guilt by association.

Chandia, 28, is the latest in a string of young Muslim men charged in the so-called Virginia jihad case.Ten people have been convicted in the case in connection with what federal authorities say was a plot to wage war against Americans overseas by aiding a terrorist group in Pakistan called Lashkar-e-Taiba. (LeT).

Prosecutors say the young men convicted in the case underwent training - in part by playing paintball in rural Virginia - to provide military aid overseas in defense of Islam. Some Muslim leaders in Northern Virginia refer to the prosecution derisively as ‘the paintball case,’ insisting that the men were guilty of little more than playing games and speaking out against American foreign policy.

Mr. Chandia was arrested Thursday evening at his home in College Park, Md., the Justice Department said. A federal indictment against him says he had been a personal assistant to Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim leader and scholar in Northern Virginia who was sentenced to life in prison in July for inciting his followers to violence.

The indictment says Mr. Chandia helped Mr. Timimi schedule appearances and speaking engagements and research Islamic subjects. In a meeting on Sept. 16, 2001, at the home of another defendant in the Virginia case, Mr. Timimi reportedly told other followers that ‘it was compulsory to assist Afghanistan in jihad against the expected U.S. military invasion,’ the indictment says.

The indictment says Mr. Chandia visited Pakistan in November 2001 and, after returning to the United States, helped ship 21 boxes of paintball supplies from Virginia to Lahore, Pakistan.

The indictment also charges a man now in British custody, Mohammed Ajmal Khan, who American authorities said was a senior official with Lashkar-e-Taiba and served as a procurement officer.

Both men were charged with providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization in December 2001. Each of the four charges carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Mr. Chandia made a brief appearance Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., and is scheduled for a bail hearing on Tuesday.

His lawyer, Marvin D. Miller, declined to discuss the specific accusations against Mr. Chandia because he had not yet reviewed the indictment in detail, but he said the charges were groundless and amounted to “a great case of guilt by association.”

Mr. Miller said that Mr. Chandia was held as a material witness for several weeks in 2003 in connection with the Virginia jihad case but that talks to secure his cooperation lapsed when the government refused to offer him immunity.

‘The government doesn’t have anything else to do, so now they’re going back to a guy they had two years ago, and they’ll say he’s a flight risk,’ Mr. Miller said. ‘With their great skill in making innocent events look really dangerous, they take something that normally wouldn’t pass the laugh test and turn it into an indictment.’

In a separate terrorism investigation in Memphis, an Egyptian student at the [b]University of Memphis[/b] was ordered held without bond Thursday after federal law enforcement officials said he had bogus credentials and had ordered $2,500 worth of pilot paraphernalia and flight instructional material over the Internet this summer.–

The student, Mahmoud Maawad, 29, is charged with wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number. An assistant United States attorney, Steve Parker, described the accusations outlined in an affidavit and search warrant for Mr. Maawad’s Memphis apartment as ’scary,’ and said he was a flight risk.

A criminal complaint says Mr. Maawad used a debit card in June, July and August to order $3,300 worth of merchandise from Sporty’s Pilot Shop in Batavia, Ohio.

An affidavit for a search warrant lists items including a private pilot course, flight simulator software, a flight gear bag, maps of the Memphis airport, a $239 leather Navy flight jacket, a DVD titled ‘How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act’ and instructional programs on airplane terminology.

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