Federal Grand Jury Charges Two N.Y. Mosque Leaders With Conspiring to Support Terrorists
ALBANY, N.Y. Sep 29, 2005 — A federal grand jury has issued new indictments against two mosque leaders in upstate New York who are charged with conspiring to support terrorists, prosecutors said Thursday.
Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain were charged last year with supporting terrorists in a money laundering scheme. The new indictments include more specific allegations that the pair attempted to provide support to Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Islamic extremist group based in Pakistan that is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
Aref, 35, is the imam of the Masjid As-Salam mosque in Albany. Hossain, 50, is a founder of the mosque. Both men have been free on $250,000 bond since shortly after their arrest in August 2004.
U.S. Attorney Glenn Suddaby did not immediately return a call seeking an explanation of the new charges Thursday evening.
The initial 19-count indictment accused them of working with an FBI informant who posed as a part-time arms dealer and proposed that Hossain hold money from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile that would be used to kill a Pakistani diplomat in New York City. The superceding indictment adds 11 counts against Aref and eight against Hossain.
Aref was charged with making false statements to immigration officials and the FBI when he denied being a member of the Islamic Movement in Kurdistan, an organization alleged to be an armed movement seeking an Islamic government in Iraq. He also denied knowing Mullah Krekar, believed to be the founder of Ansar-al-Islam, a radical Islamic fundamentalist group.
Aref, who allegedly witnessed the financial transactions and wrote receipts, has said he knew nothing about any missile. An FBI photo shows the informant holding a missile launcher while Hossain watched. Hossain said later he did not think the launcher was real.
If convicted on all counts, Aref faces up to 470 years in prison and Hossain up to 450 years, Suddaby said in a statement. Both men also could face millions in fines.
Aref’s attorney, Terence Kindlon, said Thursday that he had not read the indictment and did not know why it was issued. “There are really no new facts here,” Kindlon said. “It’s based on the same old facts.”