- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

A former high-level D.C. schools official has been charged with plotting global terrorist acts while also struggling to renovate classrooms and rid city schools of asbestos.

Kifah Waed Jayyousi, the former facilities director for D.C. public schools, was ordered held in Detroit yesterday after he was arrested for providing material support to terrorists and plotting acts of terrorism outside the United States.

Mr. Jayyousi was arrested Sunday at Detroit Metro Airport after flying into the U.S. from Amsterdam. A standard computer check showed that Mr. Jayyousi was wanted on a federal warrant issued in Miami.

Carlos B. Castillo, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida, said Mr. Jayyousi was ordered held yesterday but that his lawyers will appeal that decision at a hearing today.

“There was a hearing today, and the court granted the government’s request that Jayyousi be held in detention prior to trial, the basis being a risk of flight,” Mr. Castillo said yesterday. He said there is no timeline for returning Mr. Jayyousi to Miami to face the charges.

Mr. Jayyousi was hired as facilities director for D.C. public schools in July 1999 by Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. He held the position, which oversees capital improvements and maintenance, for more than two years until he was fired in April 2001 by Superintendent Paul L. Vance for “shoddy management.”

According to the criminal complaint unsealed Monday, Mr. Jayyousi was part of a small group of men who “formed a network across North America to fund-raise for and recruit mujahedeen to train and fight in various areas including but not limited to Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Somalia.”

Mr. Jayyousi, 43, was charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources for terrorism and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people or damage property in a foreign country.

The first charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The second carries a maximum penalty of 35 years to life in prison.

According to an affidavit in support of the complaint, authorities think Mr. Jayyousi, among others, used the cover of “ostensibly charitable organizations to raise money and recruits for violent jihad.”

Until at least November 1999 — four months after he accepted the position as D.C. schools facilities director — Mr. Jayyousi was transferring money intended for Chechen militants through the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity later deemed a “specially designated terrorist entity,” the affidavit states.

Mr. Jayyousi received mixed reviews during his tenure in the District, some saying he greatly reduced the backlog of repairs to schools, while others said renovation projects went over budget and ran grossly behind schedule.

When Mr. Vance fired Mr. Jayyousi, he said several important systems had not been implemented and cited problems with the management of contractors, which in some cases, put the health and safety of children at risk.

A schools spokeswoman had no comment on the arrest yesterday.

The affidavit says the federal investigation into Mr. Jayyousi began in late 1993. It accuses Mr. Jayyousi, a Jordanian-born naturalized American citizen, of being “active in fund raising for a violent jihad” through a San Diego, Calif.-based organization he founded called the American Islamic Group.

Authorities say Mr. Jayyousi was a follower of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who in 1995 was convicted with nine others for their involvement in a conspiracy to plant bombs at New York landmarks such as FBI offices and the headquarters of the United Nations.

According to the affidavit, he had several telephone conversations with the imprisoned Rahman to deliver updates of jihad activities.

From April 1994 or earlier through July 1996, Mr. Jayyousi published an Internet newsletter called the Islamic Report. Authorities say he used the newsletter to solicit funds in support of jihad.

In a December 1994 issue, Mr. Jayyousi described Mahmud Abouhalima, one of several co-conspirators convicted for bombing the World Trade Center in 1993, as a “good citizen and a Muslim hero.”

The affidavit states that Mr. Jayyousi had been living in Egypt since 2003. Before working in the District, he held the position of facilities director in the Detroit public school system.

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