- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2009

Federal authorities arrested an Afghan national on Friday and accused him of lying on his U.S. citizenship application about his ties to a terrorist — a brother-in-law who was Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard.

Ahmadullah Sais Niazi was indicted on federal charges of procurement of naturalization unlawfully, use of passport procured by fraud, perjury and false statement. He could receive up to 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

He is not charged with taking part in any terrorist acts or belonging to any terrorist groups.

Mr. Niazi, 34, was arrested by members of the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force at his home in Tustin, Calif., and was scheduled to appear late Friday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif.

According to an indictment unsealed Friday, Mr. Niazi lied on his naturalization application in 2004 when he claimed no connections to any terrorist groups.

Authorities say Mr. Niazi’s sister is married to Amin al-Haq, who is described by prosecutors as one of bin Laden’s security coordinators. Prosecutors say Mr. al-Haq has ties to al Qaeda, the Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, which links Mr. Niazi with those groups.

Prosecutors say Mr. Niazi also lied to authorities at Los Angeles International Airport in 2005 when he said he was returning from a trip to Qatar. In reality, prosecutors said, Mr. Niazi was returning from a trip to Pakistan, where he visited family including Mr. al-Haq.

During an interview with investigators last year, according to court records, Mr. Niazi told investigators that his family was upset his sister married Mr. al-Haq because of his “past activities.” Investigators said Mr. Niazi would not explain what he meant by “past activities,” and added that he didn’t know if Mr. al-Haq was a member of al Qaeda.

The investigation into Mr. Niazi had been going on for sometime. According to court records, prosecutors were suspicious of $16,400 in wire transfers that Mr. Niazi and his wife sent to family members in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 1999 to 2006.

During a search of his home last year, authorities seized $10,900 that Mr. Niazi’s wife said was donated by “Muslim brothers” and was meant to pay for her father’s medical bills.

The Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site Friday that neighbors said the Niazis have at least three young children and may also share their home with other older people, who are possibly relatives.

“They seem to be a normal family,” neighbor Kathe West told the newspaper. “They walk their kids and their dogs around the block like everyone else. To me, they’re just neighbors.”

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