- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003

Federal authorities yesterday unsealed a criminal complaint accusing a seventh New York man of conspiring with six suspected members of the al Qaeda network as part of a sleeper cell of terrorists operating out of Buffalo, N.Y.

Jaber Elbaneh, 36, of Lackawanna, is accused of conspiring with al Qaeda members and others to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, based on their attendance at an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist training camp.

Elbaneh remains at large and is believed to be abroad, said Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, who heads the Justice Department’s criminal division, and U.S. Attorney Michael Battle in Buffalo.

The FBI yesterday issued a “Be on the Lookout” alert for Elbaneh, and appealed for anyone with information about his whereabouts to come forward.

Mukhtar al-Bakri, 23, the sixth person indicted in the Buffalo-cell case, pleaded guilty in federal court in Buffalo earlier this week to providing material support to al Qaeda.

Al-Bakri and the five other defendants named in an October 2002 federal indictment — Yahya Goba, 26; Yasein Taher, 25; Shafal Mosed, 24; Faysal Galab, 25; and Sahim Alwan, 30 — all have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with government investigations.

Mr. Ashcroft said the charges, combined with al-Bakri’s guilty plea, demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to the war on terrorism.

“On one front, we are shutting down sources of material support to al Qaeda and securing the cooperation of individuals who trained with our enemies,” Mr. Ashcroft said.

“At the same time, the unsealing of the charges against Jaber Elbaneh demonstrates our ongoing resolve to hunt the globe for those who aid and train with terrorists,” he said. “Our efforts will not stop until the terrorist threat posed to Americans here and abroad has been eradicated.”

The so-called Buffalo Six were indicted Oct. 21, 2002, by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists from the spring of 2001 through Sept. 13, 2002. They also were accused of providing material support from the spring of 2001 through Aug. 2, 2001, and receiving military-type training at the Al Farooq camp affiliated with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The material-support charge prohibits anyone from knowingly providing or conspiring to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the State Department. Al Qaeda was designated as a foreign terrorist organization in October 1999.

Federal prosecutors have said they do not believe terrorist involvement in this country began or ended with the Buffalo Six.

Investigators continue to hunt for others who directly aided the Buffalo cells or attended the Al Farooq camp.

The six cell members admitted in court they received training at al Farooq in the use of a number of weapons, including assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, plastic explosives, Molotov cocktails and land mines.

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