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Family Members Defend Man Sought as 'Imminent Threat'
The New York Times ^ | March 22, 2003 | DANA CANEDY with ERIC LICHTBLAU

Posted on 03/21/2003 11:57:51 PM PST by sarcasm

MIAMI, March 21 — As state and federal law enforcement officials followed leads from South Florida to Morocco in an extensive search for a suspected operative of Al Qaeda, the man's family insisted that the authorities were looking for the wrong person.

The family of Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah has been holed up in its modest, single-family home in a working-class neighborhood of Miramar, near Fort Lauderdale, since almost immediately after the Federal Bureau of Investigation posed a worldwide bulletin on Thursday declaring Mr. Shukrijumah, 27, an "imminent threat" who could be planning a terrorist attack on the United States.

Late this afternoon, Mr. Shukrijumah's brother emerged before a horde of reporters and declared his brother's innocence. "I don't understand why when the war started they put him on TV," said Nabil el-Shukri, the man's 21-year-old brother. "They don't have no evidence, nothing." But family members could not explain why they had no phone number or address for him and said they had not been in regular contact with him for about three years.

"I wouldn't say he is in hiding but he's not in contact with us," said Mr. Shukrijumah's father, Shaykh Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, 73, who came here in 1995 from Saudi Arabia and has become the leader of the nearby Masjid Al-Hijrar mosque.

The father said he had not spoken to his son in about five months and that his son was last known to be in Morocco, where he was married with a child and teaching English.

Law enforcement officials said information linking Mr. Shukrijumah to Al Qaeda came in part from the ongoing interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who was recently captured in Pakistan.

Mr. Shukrijumah lived for a time in the same South Florida area as Jose Padilla, the man now in custody in an alleged "dirty bomb" plot, and F.B.I. officials said they are investigating possible links between the two men. "We really need to find this guy," said an F.B.I. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But officials said an extensive search was under way but they had not made substantial progress.

Officials said they feared that Mr. Shukrijumah could be an operational leader of a terrorist attack, similar to the role that Mohammed Atta played on Sept. 11 when he is believed to have piloted one of the planes that crashed into a tower of the World Trade Center.

The officials said they were also investigating possible links between Mr. Shukrijumah and other known or suspected terrorists. Hani Hanjour, a hijacker believed to have piloted American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, was linked to a Miramar address three miles away from Mr. Shukrijumah's family home. Imran Mandhai, a friend of Mr. Shukrijumah's, was sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison for plotting to blow up power plants and other sites in South Florida.

The authorities said they suspected Mr. Shukrijumah was now outside the United States. "The real concern is because that he has a number of passports, it would be easy for him to transit back into this country," a law enforcement official said.

Doyle Jourdan, assistant commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said investigators had received conflicting information about when Mr. Shukrijumah was last seen in South Florida. He said witnesses who reported seeing him last weekend might be confusing Mr. Shukrijumah with his younger brother, who is not under suspicion.

"We've got some witnesses who said they had seen him here in the very recent past but we haven't had any luck with it yet," Mr. Jourdan said.

The man's family moved to Miramar in 1995. Una and Neville Khan, friends of the family, took them into their Broward County home for about three months when the family first came from Saudi Arabia.

"He was very pleasant, helping me with my chores," Mrs. Khan said of Mr. Shukrijumah. "I don't think he's capable of this."

Ms. Khan said she has spoken with the suspect's mother and "she is distraught. She's in such a state right now."

Mr. Shukrijumah's father said his son lived in South Florida from 1995 until 2000. He attended Broward County Community College, studying engineering, from 1996 to 1999, the school confirmed.

F.B.I. agents have questioned Mr. Shukrijumah's family more than half a dozen times since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, his father said. "We told him about the F.B.I. coming and questioning us," he said. The father said he told the authorities that his son was traveling in Panama and Trinidad around the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Although F.B.I. officials earlier said the suspect might have received flight training in the United States, agency officials said today that they no longer believed that to be true.

Neighbors, friends and members of the local Muslim community who know Mr. Shurijumah said they were stunned by the government's accusations.

"That would be a total shocker," said Alif Ali, Florida director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who said he had seen Mr. Shukrijumah praying at several area mosques about two years ago. "It is beyond explanation," he said. "You're talking about someone in your circle who frequents the same family centers you do."

Mr. Ali said he did not want to believe the accusations, but he was also not dismissing the F.B.I's bulletin. "If they're going to issue a warning with such meaning behind it I think we as community members have take it very seriously," he said. "Look what happened in our country a year and a half go."

TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: alqaeda; elshukri; elshukrijumah; jihadinamerica

1 posted on 03/21/2003 11:57:52 PM PST by sarcasm
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To: sarcasm
I saw this on the news. They sent a reporter who asked his brother questions at the front door. The brother's protestations that he wasn't a terrorist would have been more believeable if the door did not have "" in bold white lettering on it.
2 posted on 03/22/2003 12:10:43 AM PST by EricT. (Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?)
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To: sarcasm
"I wouldn't say he is in hiding but he's not in contact with us," said Mr. Shukrijumah's father, Shaykh Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, 73, who came here in 1995 from Saudi Arabia and has become the leader of the nearby Masjid Al-Hijrar mosque."

Hiding, mosque... hmmm... and they wonder why most ALL of AMERICANS are worried... send them all home until they are cleared of terrorist ties.
3 posted on 03/22/2003 1:06:51 AM PST by Terridan
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To: sarcasm
I don't know what you think but...I don't think I would risk American Lives by believing anything the Muslim Community says....the BS meter is always on and the Muslims generally peg the meter! Pull them all in for questioning
and let's have a Gutanamo Bay-Homeland, after all we are at War with their people.
4 posted on 03/22/2003 2:53:54 AM PST by iopscusa
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To: sarcasm

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said he posed an "imminent threat to US citizens and interests", but did not specify the threat.

Bush administration officials said they believed Mr Shukirjumah had taken flight training at a school in Norman, Oklahoma, although the school said it had no record of a student named as Mr Shukirjumah, or any of the half-dozen aliases the FBI said he had used

5 posted on 03/22/2003 8:21:19 AM PST by honway
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To: honway
From link in #5

A neighbour in Miramar says he saw him at a barbecue last weekend. His name appears to have come up in interrogation sessions with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of 11 September who was arrested in Pakistan this month.
6 posted on 03/22/2003 8:25:27 AM PST by honway
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