NEW YORK (AP) — Two American citizens facing a terrorism charge — one a doctor, the other a self-described martial-arts expert — became enthusiastic followers of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden before their arrests, according to court papers released yesterday.
Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, 50, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Tarik Shah, 42, of New York, who also claimed to be a jazz musician, were arrested Friday on a charge they conspired to provide material support to al Qaeda, an FBI agent said.
The men were scheduled to be arraigned today in federal court, Mr. Shah in New York and Dr. Sabir in Florida, said U.S. Attorney David Kelley in Manhattan.
It was not immediately clear who would represent them in court. If convicted, each man faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Mr. Shah’s mother, Marlene Jenkins of Albany, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel the charge against her son is ridiculous and insisted he’s not a terrorist. Dr. Sabir’s former wife, Ingrid Doyle of New York, told the newspaper he was a good father and husband, and a hardworking man.
An 18-page complaint unsealed yesterday repeatedly described Mr. Shah’s zest to train “brothers” for urban warfare. It said both men pledged their allegiance to al Qaeda during a May 20 meeting in the Bronx.
Mr. Shah went with an informant to a windowless Long Island warehouse to see if the location would be adequate as a training site, unaware FBI agents secretly were videotaping the visit, according to the papers. He discussed a desire to open a machine shop to make weapons so fellow enthusiasts would not have to rely on anyone else to get guns, according to the complaint.
“Shah indicated that his ‘greatest cover has been’ his career as a ‘professional’ jazz musician,” wrote Brian Murphy, the FBI agent who prepared the complaint.
At one point, the informant told Mr. Shah he was going to take him to Plattsburgh, N.Y., to introduce him to a recruiter from the Middle East, who was actually an undercover FBI agent. Mr. Murphy said Mr. Shah was eager to introduce Dr. Sabir to the recruiter, who first was mentioned in January 2004.
Mr. Shah also discussed a desire to start a martial-arts school only for Muslims and said he hoped to be trained in chemical weapons, explosives, firearms, AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, according to the complaint.
On April 1, 2004, the complaint said, the informant was meeting with Mr. Shah when the suspect exchanged smiles with a girl nearby. According to the complaint, Mr. Shah turned to the informant and said: “I could be joking and smiling and then cutting their throats in the next second.”
Dr. Sabir is a licensed physician in Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, according to the Florida Department of Health Web site. He received his medical degree from Columbia University in 1981.