Islamic cell ‘had Disneyland and Las Vegas as targets’

Daily Telegraph (England), Aug. 30, 2002
By Oliver Poole in Los Angeles and Sean O’Neill

Six men in America have been indicted on charges of supporting Islamic terrorist activities, including an alleged five-man “sleeper cell” in Detroit and a former worshipper at a radical mosque in London.

The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas: police in Detroit found surveillance videos of the complex
The grand jury indictments are the first time since September 11 that an alleged terrorist unit has been exposed. They also mark an escalation in the US authorities’ investigation of links between militants in America and Britain.

The suspected cell – some of whom worked at Detroit airport – are accused of having surveillance videos of Disneyland in California and the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas that law enforcement agents believe were to be the targets of their attacks.

The government said the suspects were members of the Salafi Group for Call and Combat, a Muslim militant group launched in Algeria and supported by Osama bin Laden. They are also accused of trying to recruit terrorists for attacks on a US air base in Turkey and a hospital in Jordan.

Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan, Youssef Hmimssa and Farouk Ali-Haimoud, all from Algeria or Morocco, have been in custody since last September. Another man known only as Abdella, who is believed to be the head of the unit, is still at large,

In Seattle, James Ujaama, 36, an American who is an associate of Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical imam of Finsbury Park mosque in north London, was charged with planning to set up a “jihad training camp” in Oregon.

He is not believed to have links with the Detroit-based group but instead has been accused of providing the al-Qa’eda terrorist network with “training, facilities, computer services, safe houses and personnel” and of attempting to establish the camp in 1999.

The FBI investigation of his activities is understood to be concentrating on his links with Abu Hamza. Federal sources say he was the real organiser behind the planned camp.

Abu Hamza admits that he knew Ujaama in London but maintains that they lost touch after he “disappeared”.

Agents are understood to be trying to build up a strong case for the radical imam’s extradition. A crucial witness is Feroz Abbasi, a young Briton being held at Camp X-Ray after being arrested by US forces in Afghanistan.

Abbasi, 22, from Croydon, south London, also attended the Finsbury Park mosque and is believed to have told interrogators that he was escorted from London to Afghanistan by Ujaama, who is also said to have used the trip to deliver computer equipment to the Taliban.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday August 30, 2002.
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