- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

A leading Muslim scholar and spiritual leader was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Alexandria on charges of counseling others, including convicted members of the so-called Virginia Jihad, to engage in a conspiracy to wage holy war against the United States.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said Ali Al-Timimi, 40, of Fairfax, was named in a six-count indictment, which also accused him of aiding the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, violating the Neutrality Act, using firearms in the furtherance of crimes of violence, and counseling others to use firearms and explosives.

Mr. Al-Timimi, the primary lecturer at the Dar al Arqam Islamic Center in Falls Church, which also is known as the Center for Islamic Information and Education, is scheduled for arraignment Oct. 1 before U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Mr. McNulty said Mr. Al-Timimi helped members of the Virginia Jihad, most of whom are U.S. citizens, conspire to levy war against the United States; supply services to the Taliban; take part in military action against foreign states; and use, carry, possess and discharge firearms and explosives in furtherance of crimes of violence.

According to the indictment, within five days of the September 11 attacks, Mr. Al-Timimi thought a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was imminent when the Taliban refused to turn over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The indictment said he told Masoud Ahmad Khan, Randall Todd Royer, Yong Ki Kwon, Mohammed Aatique and Khwaja Hasan to join the mujahideen engaged in jihad in Afghanistan, advising them during a meeting at Kwon’s Fairfax home that U.S. troops in Afghanistan were legitimate targets and the men had a duty to “engage” them.

“While bodies were still being pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and while America was mourning the loss of over 3,000 people, the defendant counseled young men to bear arms against the United States,” Mr. McNulty said. “Today’s charges are a major step forward in holding this leader accountable for his dangerous actions against America.”

Mr. Al-Timimi was not available yesterday for comment, but previously has denied wrongdoing.

According to the indictment, after being counseled to do so by Mr. Al-Timimi, group members Aatique, Khan, Kwon and Hasan left the United States, arriving in Pakistan on Sept. 22, 2001, where they underwent military-style training at jihad camps run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a State Department-designated terrorist organization, near Muzaffarabad, Pakistan.

Royer, 30, of Falls Church; Kwon, 27, of Fairfax; Aatique, 30, of Norristown, Pa.; and Hasan, 27, of Alexandria, later pled guilty in the case, along with Donald Surratt, 30, of Suitland; and Ibrahim Al-Hamdi, 28, of Alexandria.

Khan, 31, of Gaithersburg; Seifullah Chapman, 30, of Alexandria; and Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35, of Falls Church, were convicted in March on terrorism-related offenses after a three-week trial in which Surratt, Aatique, Kwon, Hasan and Al-Hamdi testified for the government.

Last month, Khan was sentenced to life in prison plus 65 years; Chapman got 85 years; and Abdur-Raheem received an eight-year sentence. Two others charged in the case, Caliph Abdur-Raheem and Sabri Benkhala, were acquitted.

Mr. Al-Timimi surfaced as a possible investigative target in June 2003 when FBI agents searched and took several items from his home after arresting other group members in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

At the time, Mr. McNulty said the men were tied to Lashkar-e-Taiba and had plotted and recruited for jihad “right here in this community, 10 miles from Capitol Hill, in the streets of Northern Virginia.”

The indictments said the men trained at shooting ranges and other locations in Maryland and Virginia, including the Quantico Marine Corps base in Prince William County, with AK-47 assault rifles, other military weapons and paintball guns from early 2000 through May 2003.

Raheem, Surratt and Chapman are former U.S. military personnel who reportedly assisted in training the others.

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