- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 10, 2002

LONDON A Muslim convert who promoted "The Ultimate Jihad Challenge" on an Internet site, inviting people to take weapons training in the United States, was found not guilty of terrorist charges yesterday.
A jury at London's Old Bailey criminal court found Sulayman Balal Zainulabidin, 44, not guilty of violating the Terrorism Act.
Mr. Zainulabidin was arrested three weeks after the September 11 attacks, and two weeks after going to a London police station to complain that he did not feel safe after a newspaper article published details about his Web site. It has since been dismantled by British authorities.
During the trial, prosecutor Mark Ellison said Mr. Zainulabidin told police he was merely offering to train people who wanted to work as bodyguards.
The prosecution maintained, however, that the course was "wholly for the purposes of assisting or preparing terrorism."
Although the business was a commercial failure, the motivation behind it "was the pursuit of jihad, a holy war, against the perceived enemies of Islam," Mr. Ellison said.
Prosecutors did not suggest that Mr. Zainulabidin was connected to the September 11 attacks in the United States.
After four days of deliberation, a jury found him not guilty of charges brought under the Terrorism Act for inviting others to receive training in firearms or explosives from Feb. 20 to Oct. 6 last year.
He showed no emotion as the jury returned its verdict. His lawyer said outside court that he would have to rebuild his life.
"His house had been repossessed since his arrest. He has nothing now, yet he is a totally innocent man," attorney Muddassar Arani said.
Mr. Zainulabidin, a chef at the Royal College of Obstetricians, was born Francis Etim in central London before changing his name and converting to Islam in 1979.
He argued that police arrested him as a "trophy" suspect.
"September 11 happened, and they have got to show the public they are fighting Islamic terrorism," he said during the trial.
"It's a joke. The bottom line is that if September 11 never happened, I wouldn't be standing here and trying to justify, trying to make a business. I'm their trophy; I'm their prize. They have got to convict me," he said.
At the time of his arrest, prosecutors said Mr. Zainulabidin was the founder and chief instructor of a group offering young Muslims training in martial arts, weapons and the "Islamic art of war."
They said he had acknowledged running Sakina Security Services, an "Islamic threat management" firm whose Web site advertised "high-risk jobs in the former Soviet Union and in the civil war arenas of the world."
According to prosecutors, Mr. Zainulabidin's "Ultimate Jihad Challenge" offered weapons training in the United States at an unidentified shooting range.
Students could expect to fire 2,000 to 3,000 rounds of mixed-caliber ammunition and be trained in tactical ambush, working as a team under fire, and in sniper and multitarget engagement, Mr. Ellison said.
The camp's Web site featured a photo of the burning World Trade Center towers and promoted anti-terrorist training after September 11, but the name was used long before the terrorist attacks.

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