- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) — Two Yemeni citizens being held in Germany have been charged in the United States with conspiring to provide support to terrorist groups, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

The men are Mohammed Al Hasan Al-Moayad, 54, of Sanaa, Yemen, and Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, 29, also of Yemen. They were arrested Jan. 10 in Frankfurt, Germany, based on complaints issued in New York.

The complaints were unsealed Tuesday and the U.S. government has requested the extradition of the men to the United States.

The men were arrested by German criminal police at the department's request after a yearlong investigation and undercover operation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The investigation focused on Al-Moayad's supply of money, recruits, weapons and communication equipment to al Qaida, Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups, many of which are considered terrorist organizations by the U.S. government, the Justice Department said.

The investigation showed that Al-Moayad, an official in the Islah political party in Yemen and the spiritual leader of the al Ihsan Mosque in Sanaa, has substantial and direct ties to suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and al Qaida.

According to the complaint, a confidential informant working with the FBI met with Al-Moayad in January 2002, and allegedly was told by Al-Moayad in subsequent conversations that he regularly provides money to support mujahedin fighters in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Kashmir.

Al-Moayad also allegedly said during the conversations with the informant that he had supplied al Qaida with arms and communication equipment, delivering more than $20 million to al Qaida prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

Al-Moayad even boasted of several meetings with al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the department alleged, and said he personally delivered the $20 million to the terror chief.

Much of the money allegedly came from contributors in the United States, the Justice Department said.

In one meeting with the informant, Al-Moayad allegedly said he had received money for the "jihad" that was collected at the al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, according to the complaint.

The complaint said the FBI's confidential informant attended a mass wedding in Yemen on Sept. 19, 2002, hosted by Al-Moayad.

At the mass wedding, which are sometimes thrown as celebratory farewells for men who are embarking on jihad assignments, Mohammed Siam, one of the founders of Hamas, allegedly thanked Al-Moayad, according to the Justice Department.

The department's complaint alleged that Siam praised a "Hamas operation" that had just occurred in Tel Aviv and suggested that the organizers of the wedding must have known of the Hamas mission.

That same day, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv, killing five people and injuring more than 50 others, the Justice Department said. Hamas and another militant Islamic group claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The complaint also said that American investigators have obtained "Mujahedin Identification Forms," found in Afghanistan.

The forms allegedly contain background information on individuals entering a "training camp." One such form indicated that a "Sheikh Mohammed Almoayad" had referred a Yemeni man to the camp for training.

In addition, the complaint outlined a series of financial transactions by associates of Al-Moayad in the United States that "appear to be designed to evade federally mandated financial reporting requirements."

The alleged evasion is a tactic frequently used by those engaging in the funding of overseas terrorist organizations and entities, the department said. According to the complaint, bank records for one of Al-Moayad's associates show deposits totaling $109,000 in 25 separate transactions in March 1997, and deposits totaling $176,000 in 27 separate transactions from June to September 2001.

Bank records from a former Brooklyn business of an Al-Moayad associate show, among other things, the deposit from April to June, 2001, of more than $300,000 in cash to different bank branches, all under the reporting requirement limits, according to the department.

The Zayed complaint alleges that he joined Al-Moayad at meetings with confidential informants in Frankfurt in January 2003, and "swore to Allah" that a financial contribution to Al-Moayad would be used for its intended purposes: to support the mujahedin fighters of al Qaida and Hamas.

Al-Moayad and Zayed are charged with violating a federal law that prohibits anyone from knowingly providing or conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the State Department.

If convicted, Al-Moayad and Zayed could face up to 60 and 30 years in prison, respectively. If their actions are ultimately connected to terrorist acts resulting in death, however, the material support statute provides that they can be imprisoned for life.

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