Skip to comments.Detained al Qaeda suspects identified man from Broward
Posted on 03/22/2003 1:12:47 AM PST by sarcasm
The suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks identified the photograph of a Broward County man as a member of al Qaeda, prompting the current global manhunt for Adnan Gulshair Muhammad El'Shukri-jumah, sources close to the investigation said Friday.
Khalid Shaik Mohammed, arrested March 1 in Pakistan and believed to be al Qaeda's chief operations planner, recently picked out the former Miramar resident while shown photographs of potential terror suspects.
A second detained al Qaeda member also identified El'Shukri-jumah as being in the terrorist organization, the sources said, declining to say what role that detainee played in the organization.
Mohammed has been subjected to intense interrogation since being arrested and is being held at an undisclosed location. Investigators are sifting through information he has provided to verify its credibility.
Nevertheless, Mohammed's identification -- plus the second confirmation -- of El'Shukri-jumah bolstered the FBI's suspicions of the 27-year-old Saudi Arabian native based on investigative leads developed in South Florida in the last three years.
For local FBI investigators it was a dramatic turn after repeatedly trying to determine if El'Shukri-jumah was linked to terrorism.
''We're not going to rely on the word of one guy saying he's in al Qaeda,'' said a senior federal investigator familiar with the probe. ``We have two people who have now identified him, including Mohammed.''
But his family said Friday that he is not a terrorist and questioned the conditions under which Mohammed identified their son.
''They can say what they want. How could this man pick out my son from a photograph? That doesn't mean it's true,'' said El'Shukri-jumah's mother, Zuhrah Abdu Ahmed.
Agents first became interested in El'Shukri-jumah in March 2001 after a Broward terrorism suspect bragged that he was trying to recruit him to join his cause. Weeks later, agents secretly tape-recorded El'Shukri-jumah speaking with a government informant, but it was only innocent chatter. Agents looked for him after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but he had left the United States weeks before the assaults.
He became a worldwide priority after Mohammed's arrest.
On Thursday, the FBI publicly announced that it was looking for El'Shukri-jumah, who lived in Miramar and worked at his father's mosque, Masjid Al-Hijrah.
But his family says federal authorities have made a terrible mistake.
''They shouldn't be allowed to issue worldwide alerts for someone who they think might be a terrorist,'' said Nabil El'Shukri-jumah, 21, Adnan's brother. ``Before they ruin somebody's life, they should know for sure he is a terrorist. In my brother's case, there is no way.''
El'Shukri-jumah's name came up during the federal investigation of a fellow Broward Community College student plotting terrorist attacks. Imran Mandhai, a 19-year-old BCC student from Hollywood, is now serving nearly 12 years in federal prison for the terror plot.
Federal prosecutors charged Mandhai, a Pakistani immigrant, and co-defendant Shueyb Mossa Jokhan, a Trinidadian, in the conspiracy to bomb South Florida electrical stations, a National Guard Armory, Jewish businesses and Mount Rushmore.
Jokhan, 24, testified against Mandhai and is serving five years in the conspiracy.
According to investigators, in late 2000 or early 2001, Mandhai told an FBI informant who was secretly recording the conversation that he was recruiting 25 to 30 men, including El'Shukri-jumah, for a terror campaign.
Mandhai described El'Shukri-jumah as ''really radical.'' But he never joined the cause.
The informant, wearing a hidden microphone, then tried to befriend El'Shukri-jumah in spring 2001. El'Shukri-jumah never incriminated himself during the conversation.
''Adnan doesn't say anything,'' an investigator said, ``all innocent stuff.''
At that point, the probe into El'Shukri-jumah ended.
El'Shukri-jumah's family said Mandhai was incapable of masterminding any plots.
''The guy was just a kid himself. He couldn't even drive a car. The way he always got around was on a bike,'' said Adnan's brother Nabil. The brother described Mandhai as easily manipulated and ``very stupid, lightheaded. He couldn't recruit anybody to do anything. I feel sorry for the guy. He just got caught up in something out of his control.''
After the terrorist attacks, the FBI began looking for El'Shukri-jumah and interviewing his family. But he had left the country.
El'Shukri-jumah's father said he left in May 2001, several months before the attacks. According to his family, El'Shukri-jumah traveled frequently, selling Islamic items and clothing.
''He called us from Trinidad after it happened,'' his mother said. ''He was as surprised as any of us. I told him not to come back, that everything had changed here.'' Investigators then discovered he had lied on his application for permanent residency status with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service. El'Shukri-jumah swore on the application that he had never been arrested, but state records show Miramar police had charged him with biting his little sister in June 1997.
The misdemeanor charges were dropped by Broward prosecutors.
That sister, Aidah, now 18, said Friday the biting incident was just normal sibling bickering.
''I really don't want anyone to think he was abusive or he was mean to us,'' she said. ``We all love each other. A day later everything was back to normal.''
The family said the FBI has visited them at least six times since Sept. 11 looking for El'Shukri-jumah.
The family said they have told El'Shukri-jumah in the past that the FBI is looking for him and encouraged him not to come back.
''I saw what happened to Imran and I feel sorry for him,'' said the mother. ``I told him to stay away. I tell him that I know he's done nothing wrong and that he knows he's done nothing. I tell him to keep close to God because He knows the truth.''
The parents also said he purposely avoids disclosing his whereabouts to keep his family out of the middle.
El'Shukri-jumah, his family said, has criticized the United States, but his disapproval stems from his devout religious beliefs.
''He would sometimes comment about people walking half-naked in the street,'' said his father, a retired Saudi missionary and spiritual leader of his neighborhood mosque. ``But he is not a violent person. He understood that some societies are different than others and that while we have to admonish people about God's way, we also have to be tolerant.''
"Who are you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes."
I'm sick of these islamists' familys always telling the press what poor innocents their murderous spawn are.
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