- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A University of Memphis student arrested last September with a pilot’s uniform and other flight-training materials in his apartment was preparing for a terrorist attack on the United States, according to new documents in the case.

Mahmoud Maawad was charged with wire fraud and using a false Social Security number, and authorities now say he was visiting online chat rooms and Web sites supporting radical Sunni Muslim organizations and al Qaeda leaders in Iraq.

They said an examination of his computer also showed that Mr. Maawad had searched the Internet for how guns and bombs could be smuggled through airport screening equipment and had used key words such as “car bomb” in other searches.

“It is the United States’ position that Mr. Maawad’s motivation for fraudulent obtaining the flight training materials is because he was either planning or participating in a potential terrorist event inside the United States,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker wrote.

Mr. Parker declined comment. Mr. Maawad, who is being held without bail, is scheduled for trial next month.

FBI agents raided the Egyptian student’s campus last September and found a pilot’s uniform, a chart of Memphis International Airport, documents of Western Union transfers to and from Mr. Maawad and instructional DVDs such as “Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings” and “How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act.”

He has been in the United States illegally since 1999 and has used a phony Social Security number to open bank accounts and enroll in schools, Mr. Parker said soon after the arrest.

According to the indictment, between June 24 and Aug. 6 last year, Mr. Maawad made 12 purchases totaling $3,544.78 via the Internet from Sporty’s Pilot Shop, just east of Cincinnati.

Newly disclosed evidence in the case includes printouts of chat room discussions on a Web site with an opening message that thanks Allah “for all your Jihad” and says Iraq is “standing alone in the face of the Zionist crusader aggression.” An entry posted by Mahmoud Maawad reads, “i union with you and i completely agree.”

Also included are e-mails in which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) denied permission for Mr. Maawad to receive flight training and told him that it would be a criminal offense to seek training without TSA approval. Authorities said Mr. Maawad replied with an “angry response stating he would violate the law.”

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