- The Washington Times - Friday, August 6, 2004

LONDON — A British man wanted on an American extradition warrant used U.S.-based Web sites to recruit fighters and raise support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, U.S. government attorneys said in court yesterday.

The attorneys said Babar Ahmad, 30, had links to the e-mail account of a Chechen mujahideen leader behind the October 2002 Moscow theater siege, and that he had a document on battle group plans for U.S. Navy vessels involved in operations against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and enforcing sanctions on Iraq.

Ahmad, who was arrested Wednesday in London on a U.S. extradition warrant from Connecticut, made his first court appearance yesterday and said he did not understand the charges. “It’s all a bit confusing to me,” he said.

His next court appearance was set for Aug. 13.

Ahmad was one of 14 terrorist suspects arrested in Britain on Dec. 2. He was released Dec. 9 along with three other men from southwest London.

Ahmad is believed to be a cousin of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, a Pakistani computer expert and suspected al Qaeda operative who was arrested in Pakistan on July 13.

Rosemary Fernandes, representing the United States, said the Navy document, dated April 2001, had been seized by British police in 2003 and verified by U.S. authorities.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit unsealed in Connecticut yesterday, the Navy document was discovered on a floppy disk at Ahmad’s parents’ house in London, where he lived as recently as 2001. Authorities also found a compact disc with audio tracks praising Osama bin Laden.

The document detailed planned movements of a battle group that included the USS Benfold, a guided missile destroyer, and a drawing of the group’s formation when it was to pass through the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East, the affidavit said. It also detailed the ships’ vulnerabilities to attacks by small boats, the affidavit said.

Ahmad was purportedly communicating with a U.S. Navy enlistee on the USS Benfold who was sympathetic to the jihad cause, U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor said in New Haven, Conn. Authorities have not named the man, or accused the enlistee of providing the document to Ahmad.

“You can rest assured the Navy knows who he is and is taking appropriate precautions,” Mr. O’Connor said.

The affidavit said that Ahmad ran two Web sites, registered to an alias in London. One, azzam.com, was run out of a Trumbull, Conn.-based Internet service provider, OLM LLC, from 1999 until 2001. From 1997 to 1998, the document says, it was run through a Las Vegas-based Internet provider, Internet Quality Services.

The affidavit quoted the site as saying: “Azzam Publications has been set up to propagate the call for jihad … to incite the believers and also, secondly, to raise some money for the brothers.”

The affidavit said the Web site also encouraged people to become trained in martial arts, street fighting, sword and knife fighting and the use of firearms, the affidavit said. It also told people to research sniper training, land mine operations, mortars and combat, according to the affidavit.

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