- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 16, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal magistrate yesterday ordered a man charged with plotting to blow up a shopping mall to be transferred to a federal psychiatric facility to determine whether he is mentally competent.

The evidence Magistrate Mark Abel used to determine that Nuradin Abdi be sent to the facility was not disclosed.

Authorities have accused Abdi, 32, of plotting to blow up a mall with admitted al Qaeda member Iyman Faris, who is in prison for never-acted-on plans to sabotage the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

The indictment against Abdi, a Somali national, was unsealed Monday. The FBI said no specific mall was targeted.

Authorities have a third suspect under surveillance and are trying to determine how many others might have been involved, U.S. Attorney Gregory Lockhart said earlier.

“I don’t know that we know at this point who all the people [Abdi] was associated with are,” Mr. Lockhart said.

Abdi is charged with providing material support to terror network al Qaeda, conspiracy and document fraud. If convicted, he could get up to 80 years in prison.

Abdi, who operated a small cell phone business, was arrested in November at his apartment just after Thanksgiving, when malls across the country were crowded with shoppers. He was held at first on immigration violations, authorities said.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said the charges revealed Monday against Abdi serve as a reminder that al Qaeda is determined “to hit the United States and hit us hard.”

But Abdi’s relatives insist that he is innocent and that he never spoke out against the U.S. government.

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