- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

Five Middle Eastern men and an American Muslim were indicted yesterday and accused of being part of a terrorist cell in what prosecutors said would be the first in a string of charges against detainees held in the war on terrorism.
Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan, Youssef Hmimssa, Farouk Ali-Haimoud and a man identified only by the first name Abdella were indicted in U.S. District Court in Detroit. The men are accused of conspiring to provide material support or resources to terrorists and conspiring to engage in fraud and misuse of visas and identification documents.
Also yesterday, in Seattle, American Muslim activist Earnest James Ujaama was indicted on charges of conspiring to provide materials to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.
The Seattle indictment mentions three unindicted co-conspirators, none of whom was named. Among the six named individuals, four already were in federal custody and two remain at large.
Ujaama, arrested July 22 in Denver, was named in a two-count indictment that accused him of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists and with using, carrying, possessing and discharging firearms during a crime.
Authorities believe Ujaama provided computer equipment to an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and conspired to create a similar training camp in Bly, Ore.
According to the indictment, Ujaama was part of a conspiracy "to offer and provide facilities in the [United States] to recruit persons interested in violent jihad and jihad training; to provide actual training of such persons in firearms, military and guerrilla tactics, and related activities."
Ujaama's attorney Daniel Sears said yesterday that the charges give his client a chance to clear himself.
"If there's anything positive to come out of this, it renders some certainty to his situation," the lawyer said. "He can go about the business of defending himself against these allegations, and hopefully justice will be served."
Al Qaeda planned and carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, during which more than 3,000 people died when hijackers steered airliners into the buildings.
The two-count indictment in Detroit says the suspects "operated as a covert underground support unit for terrorist attacks within and outside the United States, as well as a 'sleeper' operational combat cell."
"The object of the conspiracy was, among other things, to cause economic harm to U.S. businesses, to provide personnel, indoctrination, recruitment and training, safe houses, mail drops, intelligence target data collection, weapons, false documentation and identification, and assistance and other covert support for the purpose of engaging in violent attacks against persons and buildings within the territory of Jordan, Turkey and the United States," the indictment said.
The indictment also said several of the men were part of a movement called the World Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, under the leadership of bin Laden.
Bin Laden's edict to that group "described the duty of every individual Muslim, in any country in which it is possible, to kill Americans and their allies," according to the indictment.
Three of the defendants in the case, an Algerian and two Moroccans, are accused of conspiring to provide services and tangible items to individuals in the United States and abroad to assist them in engaging and promoting violent attacks in Jordan, Turkey and the United States.
Koubriti, Hannan and Ali-Haimoud were arrested during a Sept. 17 raid of an apartment in a mostly Middle Eastern neighborhood in Dearborn, Mich.
Authorities found a day planner with notations in Arabic that investigators believe were plans for attacks on the Alia airport in Jordan and a plot to kill former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen during a visit to Turkey. A federal affidavit said the planner included "what appeared to be a diagram of an airport flight line, to include aircraft and runways."
The men, though, were held without bond on charges of having false immigration documents, visas and passports. Ali-Haimoud was later released when charges were dropped, while the other two have remained in custody.
Hmimssa was arrested Sept. 28 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was living under the name Michael Saisa. Hmimssa's photo and alias were reportedly found on false documents seized from the Detroit apartment.
Abdella, the fifth suspect, remains a fugitive, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit said.
When the men were arrested, several leaders of Detroit's large Arab community accused law enforcement officials of racial profiling and said the men were innocent.
The men were taken into custody as part of a nationwide sweep ordered by Attorney General John Ashcroft of terror suspects and others who had violated federal immigration laws. Mr. Ashcroft was heavily criticized for the detentions but steadfastly maintained that they were a part of an ongoing hunt for those "who could still harm America."
U.S. officials said yesterday they expected several more such indictments in coming months as federal law enforcement agencies work to prevent financial and operational support from reaching terror groups overseas.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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