United States Announces Extradition of Accused Terrorist from Czech Republic
WASHINGTON – Oussama Abdullah Kassir, a/k/a “Abu Abdullah,” a/k/a “Abu Khadija,” an individual who is charged in the Southern District of New York with, among other things, conspiring to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda, has been extradited from the Czech Republic. The charges relate to his participation in an effort to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, and his operation of several terrorist websites. Kassir was taken into FBI custody this morning in Prague.
The announcement was made today by Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Michael J. Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mark J. Merson, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Raymond W. Kelly, Police Commissioner of the City of New York.
On Dec. 11, 2005, Kassir was arrested by Czech authorities, during a layover in Prague, as he was traveling from Stockholm, Sweden, to Beirut, Lebanon. The arrest was based on a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, and a corresponding arrest warrant on file with Interpol. Kassir was thereafter detained in Prague, awaiting extradition to the United States. The superseding indictment was returned on Feb. 6, 2006 by a federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of New York. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan. According to the complaint and the superseding indictment filed in Manhattan federal court:
Kassir conspired with Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, a/k/a “Abu Hamza” (hereafter “Abu Hamza”) and Haroon Rashid Aswat, and others, to establish a jihad training camp on a parcel of property located in Bly, Ore. As it was used by the conspirators in this case, the term “jihad” meant defending Islam against its enemies through violence and armed aggression, including killing the enemies of Islam, if necessary, in order to expel non-believers from holy Muslim lands.
The purpose of the Bly jihad training camp was to provide a place where Muslims could receive various types of training, including military-style jihad training, in preparation for a community of Muslims to move to Afghanistan. Once in Afghanistan, the men in the community would have gained enough familiarity with weapons at the Bly jihad training camp to fight jihad or to continue with additional jihad training in Afghanistan. In a letter faxed from one of the co-conspirators to another, the property in Bly was described as located in a “pro-militia and fire-arms state” that “looks just like Afghanistan,” and the author stated that the group was “stock-piling weapons and ammunition.”
In late 1999, Abu Hamza asked Kassir and Aswat to travel from London, England, to Bly, Ore., to assist with establishing the jihad training camp. Prior to their departure, Abu Hamza gave Kassir and Aswat approximately £4,000 to pay for expenses incurred while establishing the jihad training camp. Thereafter, on Nov. 26, 1999, Kassir and Aswat arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, after which they traveled to Seattle, Wash. and then to Bly, Ore.
In Bly, Kassir complained to a witness that there were only a few men available to train at the jihad training camp. Kassir also told witnesses that he supported Usama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, and that he had previously undertaken jihad training in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Lebanon. A witness also saw Kassir in possession of a compact disc that contained instructions on how to make bombs and poisons.
Kassir’s terrorist Web sites, which he operated from approximately December 2001 until the time of his arrest, also contained instructions about how to make bombs and poisons. Kassir established at least three different websites, listed in the superseding indictment, which contained such instructions, including “The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook” and “The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook,” as well as other terrorist materials. At least one of these websites was located on an internet server that was at the time located in White Plains, N.Y.
The superseding indictment, which names Kassir as a defendant in 12 of its 19 counts, also charges Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, a/k/a “Abu Hamza,” and Haroon Rashid Aswat, both of whom are presently detained in England awaiting extradition to the United States on the charges. The three men are charged together in four counts with offenses relating to their efforts to establish the jihad training camp in Bly, Ore. Kassir is charged individually in a separate count relating to the jihad training camp, and in seven counts relating to his operation of terrorist websites. Seven counts in the Superseding indictment charge Abu Hamza individually with conspiracy and substantive offenses relating to hostage taking in Yemen, in 1998, and facilitating violent jihad in Afghanistan and supplying goods and services to the Taliban, in 2000 and 2001.
Abu Hamza was arrested in May 2004 by the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard in London, England, on a warrant relating to these charges. Thereafter, Abu Hamza was charged with terrorism offenses by the U.K. authorities, which resulted in a conviction in the U.K. on Feb. 7, 2006. The extradition proceedings against Abu Hamza were stayed pending completion of the U.K. criminal proceedings. After Abu Hamza’s U.K. conviction was affirmed on appeal, the United States immediately renewed its efforts to extradite Abu Hamza to the United States to face the charges in the superseding indictment. The extradition proceedings against Abu Hamza are ongoing and the next court appearances in that matter are scheduled for Oct. 22, 23, and 29, 2007 in the U.K.
Aswat was arrested in Zambia in July 2005, and then deported to England, where he was arrested on the extradition request related to this case. The U.K. High Court has affirmed an extradition ordered entered against Aswat, and he has recently appealed his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The attached chart identifies the counts in the superseding indictment with which Kassir is charged, and provides the corresponding statutory maximum terms of imprisonment.
Kassir, 41, is a Lebanese national, and also a citizen of Sweden. His last known residence was in Stockholm.
Kassir is expected to be arraigned today by Judge Keenan in Manhattan federal court at 4:15 p.m.
Mr. Wainstein and Mr. Garcia praised the New York Joint Terrorist Task Force, which includes agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department. He also expressed appreciation to the U.S. Embassy in Prague and the FBI’s Legal Attaché Offices in Prague; Copenhagen, Denmark; and London, for their assistance in this investigation. Mr. Wainstein and Mr. Garcia further expressed his appreciation to FBI Headquarters and the FBI field offices in Seattle; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Francisco, Calif., as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle and the Counterterrorism Section at the Department of Justice, for their assistance in the investigation of Kassir. Finally, Mr. Wainstein and Mr. Garcia also thanked the Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, Interpol, the Department of Homeland Security, the Czech Ministry of Justice, the Police of the Czech Republic, and the Prison Service of the Czech Republic for their assistance during the arrest and extradition proceedings involving Kassir.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric B. Bruce and Michael Farbiarz, and Trial Attorney George Z. Toscas from the Counterterrorism Section at the Department of Justice, are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the complaint and superseding indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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