June 2003 News

Two Pakistanis Among Eight Indicted In US: Kashmir Freedom Struggle

27 June 2003
The Dawn

Washington DC: US authorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of eight people - including at least two Pakistanis - for conspiracy to train and participate in Jihad in Kashmir. The suspects were produced on Friday afternoon before Magistrate Judge T. Rawles Jones, Jr in US District Court in Alexandria for initial hearing. The 42-count indictment, returned on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, and unsealed on Friday identifies at least two of the eight suspects as Pakistani nationals. One of them, Mohammed Aatique, 30, is a work (H-1) visa holder while Khawja Mahmood Hasan, 27, is a naturalized US citizen born in Pakistan. But at least one more suspect, Masoud Ahmad Khan, 31, also has a Pakistani name although his nationality was not disclosed. Other suspects include Randall Todd Royer, 30; Ibrahim Ahmed al-Hamdi, a Yemeni national and non- resident alien; Yong Ki Kwon, 27, a naturalized US citizen born in Korea; Seifullah Chapman, 30; Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35; Donald Thomas Surratt, 30; Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem, 29, and Sabri Benkhala, 28. Chapman, Hasan and Benkhala are believed to be living in Saudi Arabia. The indictment charges: Conspiracy; commencing an expedition against a friendly nation, India, receipt of a firearm or ammunition with cause to believe a felony will be committed; acquisition of firearms after arrival from a foreign country, with intent to engage in a crime of violence; transfer of a firearms for use in a crime of violence; conspiracy to possess and use a firearm in connection with a crime of violence; false statements; and using a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. According to the indictment, the 11 defendants allegedly conspired to prepare for and engage in 'violent jihad on behalf of Muslims in Kashmir, Chechnya, the Philippines and other countries.' As part of this conspiracy, the defendants allegedly obtained weapons, including AK-47-style rifles, and practiced small-unit military tactics in Virginia using paintball weapons and other equipment to simulate actual combat in preparation for jihad. The indictment alleges that some of the defendants travelled to Pakistan and trained with Lashkar-i-Taiba, an organization focused on conducting jihad against the government of India. The indictment also alleges that some of the defendants fired weapons at Indian positions in Kashmir. Acting Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray identified Lashkar-i-Taiba as an organization designated a foreign terrorist outfit by the US State Department on Dec. 24, 2001. 'Our success in the US-led war on terrorism depends on our ability to detect terrorist threats and prevent acts of violence. When individuals meet in the shadows of our nation's capital to prepare for violent jihad, we will take action,' said Mr Wray. Three of the men arrested were in Virginia, three in Maryland and one in Pennsylvania. At least 10 homes were searched in the raids for the suspects, officials said.


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