Skip to comments.Britain seeks suspect linked to Oregon case
Posted on 07/21/2005 10:18:00 AM PDT by BurbankKarl
Authorities investigating the London bombings have launched a worldwide manhunt for a man officials believe attempted to set up a terrorist training camp in Southern Oregon.
A law enforcement official told The Oregonian on Wednesday evening that the man, Haroon Rashid Aswat, 31, was one of several people prosecutors had linked to the plans to establish a training camp in Bly, a small town near Klamath Falls. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cautioned that the purported link between Aswat and the London bombings was far from certain.
Last year, American prosecutors indicted a London-based Muslim cleric, Abu Hamza al-Masri, on charges of conspiring to build an al-Qaida camp in Bly. The law enforcement official said Aswat was the man referred to in court papers as "co-conspirator #3." Aswat was not charged in that case, but the federal official said Wednesday that Aswat is the subject of an ongoing U.S. terrorism investigation. He declined to provide details on that inquiry.
Quoting what it said were 10 officials, The New York Times reported Wednesday that Aswat had emerged as a suspect of intense interest to investigators examining the July 7 London attacks, which killed 56 people and injured more than 700. Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb said his office had been told by a federal official that agents were investigating a connection between the Oregon training camp and the London attacks.
It was not clear what specific evidence had prompted Scotland Yard to focus on Aswat as a possible planner of the London attacks. The London Times reported that he had been linked to all four of the bombers through cell phone records.
The New York Times reported from London that Aswat was a senior aide to al-Masri, a blind, one-armed cleric who urged worshippers at his mosque to devote themselves to jihad, or holy war, against the West. It quoted investigators as saying Aswat worked on the mosque's Web site. Al-Masri was arrested in London in April 2004 and faces extradition to the United States.
According to The New York Times, Aswat was the subject of a manhunt this week in Pakistan, where officials are attempting to trace the movements of the bombers. The paper quoted senior investigators as saying that Aswat had met Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s and had trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There were reports Wednesday in Britain that Aswat had been arrested in Pakistan. Those reports could not be independently confirmed.
According to U.S. prosecutors, the plan to set up a training camp in Bly began in October 1999 when James Ujaama, a Seattle computer technician, visited a 160-acre ranch in Oregon and "engaged in firearms practice."
Federal prosecutors charge that "co-conspirator #3" came to Oregon in late 1999 with a Seattle man who later ran a separate Web site aimed at promoting al-Masri's "beliefs concerning the need to conduct global, violent jihad against the United States of America and other Western nations."
Over the next several months, prosecutors assert, Ujaama and his "co-conspirators" discussed the need for additional training; the possibility of conducting armed robberies; and the need to firebomb vehicles, produce poisons and build underground bunkers.
They were initially enthusiastic about the idea, prosecutors said, sending a fax to al-Masri that compared the Bly property to Afghanistan and invited the cleric to use the ranch as his safe house. In late November 1999, a co-conspirator identified by the law enforcement official as Aswat, visited Bly to check out the property. Later, Aswat and another co-conspirator, Oussama Kassir, took up residence in Seattle, authorities said.
Kassir, the indictment said, boasted that he was a "hit man" for Osama bin Laden.
Robert Jordan, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Portland, said last year that about as many as a dozen people were at the ranch at one time. Jordan said the camp was active for a short time and that firearms training was conducted on several weekends. "It looked like it was going to get off the ground, " he said. The idea of training al-Qaida foot soldiers in Oregon was then abandoned for unknown reasons, Jordan said.
Writer Noelle Crombie of The Oregonian contributed to this report.
First we had the nutcases that took over the small town of Antelope,(can't remember their name, just that they wore red clothes and looked odd) now we get the islamonuts trying to make a training ground in the state. If they would have put it up by Portland, hardly anyone would have noticed....
My employer thought those deposits were wonderful (not humor).
Thank you! The rajneeshies! I can't believe I forgot what they were called. Suffering from sometimers I guess! I grew up near Antelope and I was sick when I learned what they had done to the area....
Of course Oregon.. this state thinks terrorism is a joke of course they'll come here
Yes, I know all about the Portland Police taking themselves off the terrorism task force....it is up to you Patriots to fend for yourselves.
I see Ujaama's name is back in the news. The Seattlites all complained that he was innocent, etc.
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Hang 'em High ~ Bump!
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