UPDATE October 21st, 2014
Britain Finally Extradites Terror Suspect Haroon Rashid Aswat to US. Britain has extradited a terror suspect wanted in the United States in connection with alleged efforts to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon 15 years ago. London police said Haroon Rashid Aswat was escorted Tuesday from a psychiatric hospital in West London to an awaiting U.S. plane. Hours later, U.S. prosecutors announced his arrival in New York. Aswat, in British custody since 2005, is accused of conspiring with convicted radical cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, known widely as Abu Hamza al-Masri, to set up the training camp in a rural area of Oregon.
LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that OUSSAMA ABDULLAH KASSIR, a/k/a “Abu Abdullah,” a/k/a “Abu Khadija,” was found guilty today of charges relating to his participation in an effort to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, and his operation of several terrorist websites. KASSIR was found guilty of all eleven counts against him—including, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; providing material support to terrorists; conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda; providing material support to al Qaeda; conspiracy to kill or maim persons overseas; and distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction—following a four-week jury trial before United States District Judge JOHN F. KEENAN in Manhattan federal court.
According to the superseding Indictment and the evidence presented at trial:
KASSIR conspired with MUSTAFA KAMEL MUSTAFA, a/k/a “Abu Hamza” (hereafter “ABU HAMZA”), HAROON RASHID ASWAT, and others, to establish a jihad training camp on a parcel of property located in Bly, Oregon. As used by the conspirators in this case, the term “jihad” meant defending Islam against its enemies through violence and armed aggression, including, if necessary, through murder to expel non-believers from Muslim holy lands. On the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda terrorist attack on America, Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri marked the day by scheduling a conference to launch a new organization (reportedly funded by Al Muhajiroun with a six-figure cash donation) to be called the Islamic Council of Britain (ICB). ICB’s stated goal is to “implement sharia law in Britain.”
The Bly jihad training camp was established as a site where Muslims could receive various types of training, including military-style jihad training, in preparation to fight jihad in Afghanistan or to continue with additional jihad training in Afghanistan. In a letter faxed from one of the co-conspirators to ABU HAMZA, the property in Bly was described as located in a “pro-militia and fire-arms state” that “looks just like Afghanistan,” and the author stated that the group was “stock-piling weapons and ammunition.”
In late 1999, after transmission of this faxed letter, ABU HAMZA sent KASSIR and ASWAT from London, England, to Bly to assist in establishing the jihad training camp. On November 26, 1999, KASSIR and ASWAT arrived in New York and then traveled to Bly.
In Bly, KASSIR told witnesses that he supported USAMA BIN LADEN and al Qaeda, and that he had previously undertaken jihad training in Pakistan. A witness also saw KASSIR in possession of a compact disc that contained instructions on how to make bombs and poisons. After leaving Bly, KASSIR and ASWAT traveled back to Seattle, Washington, and resided in the Dar Us Salaam Mosque in Seattle for approximately two months. At the Mosque, KASSIR provided the men at the Mosque with jihad training lessons, including lessons on how to assemble and disassemble AK- 47’s and how to alter an AK-47 to launch a grenade.
KASSIR also established at least six different terrorist websites, which he operated from approximately December 2001 until the time of his arrest. The websites contained instructions about how to make bombs and poisons and featured such materials as “The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook” and “The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook.”
The superseding Indictment also charges ABU HAMZA and HAROON RASHID ASWAT, both of whom are presently detained in England awaiting extradition to the United States. All three men were charged together in four counts with offenses relating to their efforts to establish the jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon. In addition, seven counts in the superseding Indictment charge ABU HAMZA with conspiracy and substantive offenses relating to a hostage-taking in Yemen, in 1998, and facilitating violent jihad in Afghanistan and supplying goods and services to the Taliban in 2000 and 2001.
ABU HAMZA was arrested in May 2004 by the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard in London, England, on a warrant relating to these charges. Thereafter, ABU HAMZA was charged with terrorism offenses by the U.K. authorities, which resulted in a conviction in the U.K. on February 7, 2006. The extradition proceedings against ABU HAMZA were stayed pending completion of the U.K. criminal proceedings. After ABU HAMZA’s U.K. conviction was affirmed on appeal, the United States renewed its efforts to extradite ABU HAMZA to the United States. The extradition proceedings against ABU HAMZA are currently pending in the European Court of Human Rights.
ASWAT was arrested in Zambia in July 2005, and then deported to England, where he was arrested on the extradition request related to this case. The extradition proceedings against ASWAT are also currently pending in the European Court of Human Rights.
As to ABU HAMZA and ASWAT, the charges and allegations contained in the superseding Indictment are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The attached chart identifies the counts in the superseding Indictment of which KASSIR was found guilty and provides the corresponding statutory maximum terms of imprisonment.
KASSIR, 43, is a Lebanese national, and also a citizen of Sweden. His last known residence was in Stockholm.
KASSIR’s sentencing was set by Judge KEENAN for September 2, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.
Mr. DASSIN praised the New York Joint Terrorist Task Force, which includes agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department. He also expressed appreciation to the U.S. Embassy in Prague and the FBI’s Legal Attache Offices in Prague; Copenhagen; and London, for their assistance in the investigation. Mr. DASSIN further expressed his appreciation to FBI Headquarters and the FBI field offices in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Francisco, California, as well as the United States Attorney’s Office in Seattle and the Counterterrorism Section at the Department of Justice, for their assistance in the investigation of KASSIR. Finally, Mr. DASSIN also thanked the Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, Interpol, the Department of Homeland Security, the Czech Ministry of Justice, the Police of the Czech Republic, and the Prison Service of the Czech Republic for their assistance during the arrest and extradition proceedings involving KASSIR.
Assistant United States Attorneys ERIC B. BRUCE and MICHAEL FARBIARZ are in charge of the prosecution.
I. The Bly, Oregon Jihad Training Camp Counts
|Count||Offense||Maximum Statutory Penalty|
|Three||Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section 371||5 years’ imprisonment|
|Four||Providing material support and resources to terrorists, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339A||10 years’ imprisonment|
|Five||Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda, in violation of Title 18, United States Code,Section 2339B||10 years’ imprisonment|
|Six||Providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda, inviolation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B||10 years’ imprisonment|
|Seven||Conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, and injure persons in a foreign country, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section 956||Life imprisonment|
II. The Terrorist Website Counts
|Count||Offense||Maximum Statutory Penalty|
|Eight||Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, in violation of Title18, United States Code, Section2339A||15 years’ imprisonment|
|Nine||Providing material support and resources to terrorists, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339A||15 years’ imprisonment|
|Ten||Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B||15 years’ imprisonment|
|Eleven||Providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B||15 years’ imprisonment|
|Twelve||Conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, and injure persons in a foreign country, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 956||Life imprisonment|
|Thirteen||Distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 842(p)(2)(A)||20 years’ imprisonment|