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Government unveils evidence linking Columbus, Ohio men in Islamic terror plots

Posted By Douglas J. Hagmann On June 10, 2007 @ 10:00 am In Arrests/Convictions,Domestic Terrorism,Douglas J. Hagmann,Special Reports | Comments Disabled

In-depth investigative report by Douglas J. Hagmann, [1] Director

“There are acts of terror being planned against the citizens of America, in America, by Islamic extremists who live, work and play among us. Most people don’t realize how serious the threat is, and they feel insulated against terror attacks since 9/11 has become not much more than a distant memory.” –Federal source

10 June 2007: Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southeastern District of Ohio filed an exhibit list with the court of 102 individual items that connects three-(3) Muslim men in a Columbus, Ohio Islamic terrorist cell. The evidence connects the three terror defendants pictured above (from left to right) Nuradin ABDI, Christopher PAUL (a/k/a Abdul MALEK), and Iyman FARIS (a/k/a Mohammad RAUF) to each other and to separate acts of planned terrorism inside the U.S.

According to one federal law enforcement source speaking to this investigator on the condition of anonymity, the unsealed indictments, previous testimony in the case against Iyman FARIS, and the planned acts of terror is “paints a disturbing picture of what is taking place in the U.S. today among radical Muslims in American mosques.”

According to this source, “there are acts of terror being planned against the citizens of America, in America, by Islamic extremists who live, work and play among us. Most people don’t realize how serious the threat is, and they feel insulated against terror attacks since 9/11 has become not much more than a distant memory.”

With regard to the Columbus, Ohio men, all three men are Muslims or Muslim converts. All three were active in activities at Columbus mosques, including Christopher PAUL, who taught martial arts training at a Columbus mosque to fellow members and conducted paramilitary training in rural areas of Ohio. All three have alleged connections to Islamic terrorism and al Qaeda that date back to the early 1990s. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice has introduced exhibits that connect all three men in a web of plots that range from the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge to blowing up a Columbus area shopping mall with the intent on killing as many men, women and children as possible.

Of the three men, Iyman FARIS is the only conspirator who pleaded guilty to his role in providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and conspiracy for providing the terrorist organization with information about possible U.S. targets for attack.

Christopher PAUL, 43, a former roommate of FARIS was arrested on 11 April 2007 after being indicted for providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Nuradin ABDI, 35, an immigrant from Somalia was arrested in 2003 and charged with plotting to blow up a Columbus area shopping mall, is scheduled to stand trial in August. In advance of that trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed with the court of list of exhibits not only relating to those plans, but linking all three Columbus men to a variety of terror plots to be executed inside the U.S.

Partial list of government exhibits* Photo taken from Abdi’s computer, “Bin Laden is in our hearts;”

* Copy of airline schedules showing ABDI’s travels to Ethiopia in January 2000 and returning to the United States from Ethiopia in March 2000;

* Copy of an employment application dated 24 February 2001 in which ABDI used PAUL as a personal reference;

* Copy of e-mail from ABDI to Iyman FARIS dated 28 October 2002 titled “A Message to the American People,” supporting Islamic Jihad, or holy war against the U.S.;

* Copy of $11.25 receipt from Caribou Cafe in Upper Arlington in suburban Columbus on 6 August 2002. It was here where the government alleges ABDI discussed the shopping mall bombing plot with FARIS and PAUL;

* Copy of gasoline charge on 11 September 2002 for $16.80 charged at an Exxon station in Pittsburgh, PA for a trip the government alleges ABDI and PAUL took together;

* Copy of gasoline charge on 31 December 2002 for $17.80 charged at an Amoco station in Pittsburgh, PA for a trip the government alleges ABDI made to pick up PAUL in Pittsburgh and take him to the Columbus airport.

* Global positioning watch given to ABDI by Christopher PAUL and found in ABDI’s bedroom closet on 28 November 2003;

* Copy of phone records showing ABDI’s phone calls to Christopher PAUL and others on 28-29 November 2003.

The case against Iyman FARISIyman FARIS, a/k/a Mohammad RAUF, of Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced on 28 October 2003 by U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, at federal court in Alexandria, Virginia to 20 years in prison for providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and conspiracy for providing the terrorist organization with information about possible U.S. targets for attack.

FARIS, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kashmir, pleaded guilty on 1 May 2003, to casing the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City bridge for al Qaeda, and researching and providing information to al Qaeda regarding the tools necessary for possible attacks on U.S. targets. He admitted traveling to a training camp in Afghanistan in late 2000, where he was introduced to Osama bin Laden.

FARIS admitted that during a meeting in late 2000, one of bin Laden’s men asked him about “ultralight” airplanes, and said al Qaeda was looking to procure an “escape airplane.”  FARIS admitted that about two months later, he performed an Internet search at a cafe in Karachi, Pakistan and obtained information about ultralights, which he turned over to a friend for use by al Qaeda.
FARIS also admitted that during a visit to Karachi in early 2002, he was introduced to a senior operational leader in al Qaeda. A few weeks later, the operational leader asked what he could do for al Qaeda. FARIS said he discussed his work as a truck driver in the United States, his trucking routes and deliveries for airport cargo planes, in which the al Qaeda leader said he was interested because cargo planes would hold “more weight and more fuel.”

According to FARIS’ admission, the operational leader then told FARIS that al Qaeda was planning two simultaneous attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. The al Qaeda leader spoke with FARIS about destroying a bridge in New York City by severing its suspension cables, and tasked FARIS with obtaining the equipment needed for that operation. The leader also explained that al Qaeda was planning to derail trains, and asked FARIS to procure the tools for that plot as well.

FARIS admitted that upon returning to the United States from Pakistan in April 2002, he researched “gas cutters” - the equipment for severing bridge suspension cables - and the New York City bridge on the Internet. Between April 2002 and March 2003, he sent several coded messages through another individual to his longtime friend in Pakistan, indicating he had been unsuccessful in his attempts to obtain the necessary equipment. FARIS admitted to traveling to New York City in late 2002 to examine the bridge, and said he concluded that the plot to destroy the bridge by severing cables was unlikely to succeed because of the bridge’s security and structure. In early 2003, he sent a message that “the weather is too hot” - a coded message indicating that the bridge plot was unlikely to succeed.

Federal law prohibits the providing of material support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations. Al Qaeda was designated by the Secretary of State in 1999 to be a foreign terrorist organization, and redesignated as such in October 2001.
The FARIS case was prosecuted by attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Counterterrorism Section of the Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, along with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. [U.S. D.O.J. PR 03-589]

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: Northeast Intelligence NetworkColumbus, Ohio Mall Bombing Plot More Extensive Than ReportedFederal authorities unsealed charges against a Columbus, Ohio, man alleging that he was involved in an al-Qaeda plot to blow up a shopping mall in Ohio using military grade explosives. The four-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Columbus, Ohio, charges that Nuradin ABDI, 32 conspired with admitted al-Qaeda member Iyman FARIS and others to detonate a bomb at a Columbus, Ohio shopping mall. Iyman Faris, 34, an Ohio truck driver who met with Osama bin Laden and helped al-Qaeda plot a second wave of attacks on American soil pleaded guilty to felony terrorism charges. Based on federal court documents, Faris told authorities he was scouting ways to derail trains and bring down the Brooklyn Bridge by severing its suspension cables.

For well over a year, we have been providing details about the presence of terrorist cells in the US and their intentions and likely targets. This morning’s news conference by US Attorney General John Ashcroft, restating al Qaeda’s desire to strike at America again, further solidifies our previous intelligence.

25 June 2004: Following our report of the above, NEIN investigators learned that at least 2 other men were involved in the plot as detailed above, although other targets in the mid-west were selected in addition to the Columbus shopping mall. Based on information provided in an e-mail to this agency, investigator Doug Hagmann obtained additional information from a Columbus, Ohio area law enforcement official who admitted that there were plans to derail trains (open source confirmed), use tanker trucks as explosive devices on soft targets such as federal buildings, strip plazas and shopping malls. Interestingly, Columbus also has several large chemical and biological research facilities. According to the law enforcement official questioned, there was an indication that at least one chemical plants in the metro area was on the “short list” of targets by this group or one of their associates.

The greater Columbus area consists of approximately 1.7 million people and has the second largest Somali population in the US. (Subscriber BW assisted in this contribution).

Who is Iman FARIS?

Faris was born in Pakistan and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. Since his arrival in the United States in 1994, his primary occupation has been truck driver. Faris, who lived in Columbus, working as a trucker, also has used the name Mohammad Rauf. Faris’ last-known Columbus address was at an apartment complex on Riverview Drive. Last week, the terrorism task force searched an apartment complex on Riverview Drive linked to Faris and other unknown subjects. A statement of fact filed along with the guilty plea says that Faris, also known as Mohammed Rauf and a native of Kashmir, was instructed by an senior al-Qaida operative — identified as “C-2? in the documents and as Osama bin Laden’s “right foot” — to obtain “gas cutters” equipment that would enable him to sever the cables on “a bridge in New York City” believed to have been the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris was told to refer to the cutters as “gas stations” so that eavesdroppers would not get wind of the plot.

In addition, the senior al-Qaida operative told Faris that he should obtain tools that could be used to derail trains in the United States, the affidavit says. These tools were to be referred to in code as “mechanics shops.”

Faris is believed to have received instructions directly from senior al-Qaida leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who also is in U.S. custody overseas and has provided U.S. interrogators with valuable intelligence about the terror group.

Under an agreement with the Justice Department unsealed Thursday, Faris pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to provide support. He also agreed to cooperate with government investigators. The agreement was actually filed with the U.S. District Court in nearby Alexandria, Va., on May 1, but was kept secret for over a month. These meetings occurred in 2000, 2001 and early 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the government statement says.

The statement says that Faris researched the bridge on the Internet and traveled to New York in late 2002 to examine the bridge, concluding that “the plot to destroy the bridge by severing the cables was very unlikely to succeed” because of its security and structure.

He sent a coded message back to al-Qaida leaders: “The weather is too hot,” meaning that the plot probably couldn’t go forward. Faris was also asked by bin Laden associates in late 2000 to look into ultralight aircraft that could be used as escape planes by al-Qaida operatives, prosecutors say. In addition, Faris helped al-Qaida obtain 2,000 lightweight sleeping bags that were shipped to Afghanistan for use by bin Laden and other al-Qaida members. His original contact with al-Qaida came through one of the senior operatives, who the government says Faris had known since the Soviet-Afghanistan war in the 1980s.

Faris’ last-known Columbus address was at an apartment complex on Riverview Drive. He was married in Columbus in 1995, and the marriage ended in dissolution in 2000, Burton reported. Records show he was married to Geneva Bowling and lived with her in a small home in Columbus.

The case against Christopher PAULChristopher PAUL, 43, born Paul Kenyatta Laws, a/k/a PAUL Abdul, Abdul Malek, Abdul Malik, Abdel Malek, Abdul Melik, Abdulmaled, Abdul Malek Kenyatta, Paul Kenyatta Laws, Paul Laws and as Abdulmalek KENYATTA

BACKGROUND

Christopher PAUL, 43, a convert to Islam and a former roommate of Iyman FARIS, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Columbus in April, charged with providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was arrested by FBI agents outside of his Columbus apartment on 11 April 2007 after a four-year investigation that encompassed 8 different countries on three continents.

According to a federal indictment, PAUL’S links to al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism dates back to the early 1990s, when he traveled to a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and later joined al Qaeda in Pakistan. He is also accused of conducting paramilitary training at Burr Oak State Park in Glouster, Ohio, in 1998 with several co-conspirators. In addition to conducting the paramilitary training, PAUL taught martial arts to fellow members of Columbus mosque.

According to one federal source close to the Northeast Intelligence Network who is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security speaking on condition of anonymity, the case of Christopher is not unique. “There are active al Qaeda members or facilitators inside the U.S. who are doing exactly what PAUL is accused of doing - training others inside the U.S. for future terrorist attacks. These plans are being made at local mosques under the protection of religious freedom that is offered by our country.”

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