September 24, 2009 was one of the busiest days for terrorism arrests, plots, and revelations since 9/11. Events ranged from the arrest of a Jordanian who attempted to blow up a skyscraper in downtown Dallas, to a Dutch aviation services company pleading guilty to conspiracy to export aircraft components and other goods to Iran. Below is a summary of each case's most significant details, with hyperlinks to where primary case documents made available by the IPT can be found:
U.S. v. Najibullah Zazi, et al.
A federal grand jury in New York has indicted terror suspect Najibullah Zazi for conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. This represents a significant upgrade from previous charges of lying to FBI agents. Zazi "purchased unusually large quantities of hydrogen peroxide and acetone from beauty supply stores in the Denver metropolitan area." Furthermore, a New York City intelligence officer has been removed for revealing the investigation to Queens area Imam Ahmad Afzali, who then turned the information over to the terror suspect Zazi. In addition, it was revealed that Afzali previously pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse and served 6 months in prison. Authorities also say that terrorism suspect Najibullah Zazi has made several trips to Canada, raising concern among investigators that Zazi may have tried to organize a terror cell in that country.
See the DOJ press release from the case here.
U.S. v. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi
A 19-year-old Jordanian citizen living illegally in the small town of Italy, Texas attempted to blow up a skyscraper in downtown Dallas. Hosam Maher Husein Smadi has been arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Smadi, who was under continuous surveillance by the FBI, was arrested today near Fountain Place, a 60-story glass office tower located at 1445 Ross Avenue in downtown Dallas, after he placed an inert/inactive car bomb provided by the FBI at the location. Smadi made clear his intention to serve as a soldier for Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and to conduct violent jihad. Undercover FBI agents, posing as members of an Al Qaeda "sleeper" cell, were introduced to Smadi, who repeatedly indicated to them that he came to the U.S. for the specific purpose of committing "Jihad for the sake of God."
See the criminal complaint against Smadi here.
U.S. v. Daniel Patrick Boyd, et al.
A superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in North Carolina includes new charges against Daniel Patrick Boyd, Hysen Sherifi, and Zakaria Boyd. The indictment charges Daniel Boyd and Sherifi of plotting to kill U.S. military personnel. It also adds weapons charges for Boyd, Sherifi, and Zakaria Boyd. The indictment alleges that Boyd undertook reconnaissance of the Marine Corps Base in Quantico VA, and obtained maps of the base with the intention of planning an attack. An earlier indictment in July had charged the North Carolina terrorism suspects with material support for terrorism. The indictment alleged Boyd is a veteran of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Boyd and several other defendants traveled from the United States to Israel in an effort to engage in violent jihad but returned to the U.S. after failing in their efforts. U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding responded to the new indictment saying: "These additional charges hammer home the grim reality that today's homegrown terrorists are not limiting their violent plans to locations overseas, but instead are willing to set their sights on American citizens and American targets, right here at home."
See the superseding indictment here.
U.S. v. Betim Kaziu
An indictment was unsealed in federal court this morning charging Betim Kaziu, a U.S. citizen and resident of Brooklyn, with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. In the pursuit of his terrorist plot, Kaziu made efforts to travel to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans to fight against U.S. armed forces. He also traveled to Egypt where he attempted to purchase weapons, to join the Somali-based Al-Shabaab (an organization which has recently pledged support to Al Qaeda), and to travel to Pakistan. He was finally arrested in Kosovo possessing 2 AK-47s and several hand grenades.
For more information see the following DOJ press release.
U.S. v. Aviation Services International, et al.
A Dutch aviation services company, its director and sales manager (Robert and Neils Kraaipoel) pleaded guilty today in the District of Columbia to federal charges related to a conspiracy to illegally export aircraft components and other items from the United States to entities in Iran via the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus. As a result of the U.S. led boycott, Iran has suffered from numerous aviation disasters and severe impediments to its military development. This is not the first time that North American companies have attempted to skirt around the boycott. Another recent case was that of Traian Bujduveanu and Hassan Keshari, who were indicted and pleaded guilty in Canadian court for the same charges.
For more information see the following DOJ press release from the case here.
U.S. v. Michael Finton
An Illinois man was arrested in a plot to use a truck bomb to blow up the federal building in the state capital. Michael Finton (aka Talib Islam) came to the attention of law enforcement authorities after his arrest in August 2007 on parole violation charges. During his arrest, Finton had written a letter to John Walker Lindh, an American who was captured fighting for the Taliban and imprisoned on terrorism violations. Finton confessed in a January 2008 interview with the FBI that he "idolized" Lindh. After his release from prison, Finton allegedly received funds from an individual in Saudi Arabia that he used to travel to the country. In February 2009, Finton was introduced to an FBI informant posing as a low-level Al Qaeda operative. In conversations with the informant, Finton expressed a keen desire to receive military training and fight anti-Islamic forces in Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other locations. Finton also discussed targeting locations in the United States and made videos in which he rationalized the attacks and accused America of being at war with Islam.
See the DOJ Press Release from the case here.
Seattle Somali Bomber
The FBI is investigating reports that one of the men responsible for last week's suicide truck-bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, was a Seattle man who may have been recruited from the local Somali community. The bombing killed 21 people. This is the first time that federal officials have acknowledged that the sort of recruitment efforts that have lured as many as 20 young men from the Minneapolis area to fight in Somalia, may be at work in Seattle. To date, at least three Minneapolis area Somalis have been killed in fighting or attacks, including suicide bomber 27-year-old Shirwa Ahmed who murdered 29 others in a suicide bombing at a United Nations checkpoint last fall. This development is part of a new trend of American Islamists exporting terrorism abroad.
More information is available from the Seattle Times.