- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

A former Army sergeant, on trial on charges of weapons violations and conspiracy to fight against the United States, said that paintball games such as the ones he participated in in Northern Virginia are good training for jihad combat, an FBI agent testified yesterdayin U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

“He said paintball training had been helpful,” testified FBI agent John Wyman against Hammad Abdur-Raheem, a Persian Gulf War veteran who served seven years in the Army.

Mr. Abdur-Raheem used his military experience to train others on the Virginia paintball fields, Mr. Wyman said.

He “had been encouraged to go to Pakistan but didn’t feel a need to go because of his military experience,” Mr. Wyman testified.

The government contends that the men played paintball games almost every weekend in 2000 and 2001, and that four participants went to Pakistan after the September 11 terrorist attack to train with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is seeking to drive India out of Kashmir, and which was designated a terrorist group in December 2001 by the U.S. government.

Mr. Abdur-Raheem was interviewed by the FBI several times before he and 10 other Muslims were indicted in June on 32 counts of conspiracy and weapons violations. Four defendants attended training camps in Pakistan.

Six pleaded guilty and four have testified against the men on trial before U.S. District Judge Leoni Brinkema.

Mr. Wyman was the last witness for the prosecution in the eight-day trial. Defense witnesses begin today for Mr. Abdur-Raheem; Caliph Bash Ibn Abdur-Raheem, no relation; Seifullah Chapman, 30, and Masoud Ahmad Khan, 32. All live in the D.C. area.

The paintball players were encouraged to train with Lashkar-e-Taiba after September 11 when Ali al-Timini, 39, a U.S. citizen and Islamic minister in Falls Church, urged them to go and join the mujahedeen anywhere in the world, Mr. Wyman said from his questioning of Mr. Abdur-Raheem.

Paintball involves teams of participants who “fight” against each other using guns that shoot paint-filled pellets.

About 30 minutes of recorded telephone conversations by Mr. Abdur-Raheem were played in court yesterday. The talk was about testimony to the investigating grand jury and FBI raids on the suspects’ homes that led to the confiscation of AK-47 rifles, handguns, e-mails and letters.

Yong Ki Kwon, 28, who pleaded guilty and is in jail awaiting formal sentencing, completed nearly three days of testimony.

He had “scores of interviews” with the FBI since March 2003, he said.

Kwon admitted that he often lied and did not give all details when the questioning began in Hawaii. But, each succeeding interview seemed to bring out more details and correct past falsehoods.

About the paintball games, Kwon said, “I was training because I thought one day I might go overseas. … We were training for anything that could happen in the United States or overseas.”

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