Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Calls Key in Terror Case (calls from Albany NY to Syria)
timesunion.com ^ | March 22, 2006 | BRENDAN LYONS,

Posted on 03/23/2006 7:01:11 PM PST by prairiebreeze

ALBANY -- The spiritual leader of an Albany mosque repeatedly called a phone number in Syria that an FBI report indicates had been used to gather terrorist intelligence for Osama bin Laden, according to classified documents unsealed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

The FBI report, which was based on information from a confidential informant, was among several once-secret documents that federal authorities say raise questions about Yassin Aref's connections to terrorist organizations across the Middle East.

Aref, 35, a Kurdish refugee who moved to Albany with his family in 1999, is in jail without bond while awaiting trial on charges related to an FBI counterterrorism sting. He has denied any connections to terrorism.

But federal authorities paint him as an intelligent religious scholar with strong ties to some of the world's most notorious terrorists, including Mullah Krekar, the founder of a violent Iraqi terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaida.

The FBI report on bin Laden is undated and heavily redacted. It states that an informant told the FBI that during October 2001 he was approached by someone soliciting intelligence about "flight training schools, access to airports in (redacted)" and information about "how close the individual could get to an aircraft."

The informant said he was instructed that any information could be distributed to "brothers" through two phone numbers in Damascus, Syria. One of the numbers was called repeatedly by Aref from his Albany home, according to federal authorities.

Aref's attorney, Terence L. Kindlon, said the information is "meaningless" because the number appears to have been the headquarters for Islamic Movement for Kurdistan (IMK), which had an office in Damascus where Aref once worked after fleeing Iraq.

"He called IMK all the time," Kindlon said. "He had friends there, guys he went to college with."

Still, federal authorities are using the information to bolster their allegations that Aref lied on his visa application about whether he had any ties to political groups. The immigration violation -- for allegedly lying on his residency application -- was added to the counterterrorism charges for federal authorities to be able to introduce Aref's overseas' ties into the case.

"Aref kept his IMK affiliation hidden and secret, specifically omitting any reference to the IMK in his 1999 refugee application," according to a memorandum filed by the Justice Department. "Aref has had contacts with terrorists and discussions about terrorist acts."

In addition to the alleged connection to Osama bin Laden's terror network, documents released Tuesday indicate that Aref's name, Albany address and telephone number were found in several suspected terrorist strongholds during the war in Iraq.

One of the facilities was raided in March 2003 and had been occupied by Krekar's group, Ansar al-Islam. U.S. forces discovered evidence that terror groups had tried to produce deadly toxins there, according to a government report.

More information was also released by the government Tuesday about a suspected terrorist camp in that was bombed by coalition forces in June 2003. The unclassified records indicate the camp had been occupied by heavily-armed Ansar al-Islam members carrying various military manuals.

A notebook found in the camp contained Aref's name and Albany address, along with Krekar's contact information in Europe, according to the report.

Kindlon again downplayed the significance.

"Just because you find somebody's name someplace, it doesn't mean anything at all," Kindlon said. "It's where he's from. This is a guy who used to speak to thousands of people at the same time. ... He was a (religious) prodigy. The fact that his name exists in different places throughout the country of his birth means nothing."

It's routine for government prosecutors to release criminal history reports of people they intend to call as witnesses at trial.

Other records unsealed by the government included criminal history reports for two men, one on a terrorist watch list, who had attended the Masjid As Salam mosque on Central Avenue where Aref is the spiritual leader.

One of the men, a 26-year-old ex-convict named John Earl Johnson, was arrested by Albany police in December 2001 as he exited the mosque carrying a rifle. A year later, Johnson was arrested again while driving on the New York State Thruway in Herkimer in a van that authorities say was loaded with weapons and computer discs containing terrorism-related manuals.

The manuals included information on how to make fertilizer bombs, nitroglycerine, cyanide, chorine gas and letter bombs.

Johnson, who has served at least two prison terms, was also arrested in Afghanistan in March 2000 carrying similar computer discs, according to the FBI report and law enforcement sources.

The other individual whose criminal history was released by the FBI Tuesday is Ali Mounnes Yaghi, a former pizza shop worker who helped establish the Central Avenue mosque and took part in hiring Aref there. Yaghi is now on a terrorism watch list, according to the records.

Yaghi, who was deported to his native Jordan in July 2002, was jailed as a federal detainee for almost a year after the Sept. 11 attacks as the FBI investigated whether he or any of his acquaintances had connections to terrorist cells or attacks on the World Trade Center.

FBI agents said Yaghi failed a polygraph examination during an interrogation in which he was shown photographs of the 19 hijackers and asked whether he knew any of them. But Yaghi was never connected to any terrorist plot before being deported.

However, according to a source close to Aref's case, Yaghi contacted the FBI after Aref's arrest and pledged to cooperate in the current investigation.

The new information provides more details about why the FBI launched a sting three years ago targeting Aref.

Aref and Mohammed Hossain, an Albany pizza shop owner and co-founder of the mosque, were ensnared in an FBI sting and accused of taking part in a plot to make money from the sale of missile launchers to terrorists. The plot was not real and was created by the FBI, which used an informant to allegedly lure the men into the deal.

Officials have not accused Hossain of being connected to any terrorist groups. He is free on bond, as both men await trial.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: New York
KEYWORDS: 1999; 200003; 200110; 200112; 2002; 200207; 200306; 200603; abdulqadirkhan; afghanistan; albany; albanycell; alimounnesyaghi; alqaeda; ansaralislam; ansaralsunna; aref; assassinationplot; aviation; binladen; bombplots; bombs; chemicalweapons; chorine; clerics; cyanide; fbi; flightschools; gas; herkimer; hossain; imams; imk; iraq; iraqwar; johnearljohnson; johnejohnson; johnjohnson; khan; krekar; kurd; kurdistan; letterbombs; manpads; masjidassalam; mohammedhossain; moneylaundering; mosharrefhossain; mosque; mosques; mounnesyaghi; muhiddinaref; mullahkrekar; nait; nitroglycerine; nuclearscientists; pakistan; pizza; pizzashop; poisonplots; qadeerkhan; qadirkhan; refugees; rifle; sting; syria; terrorclerics; terrormanuals; toxins; trainingcamps; waw; wmd; wmdfinds; womenagainstwar; yaghi; yassinaref
It states that an informant told the FBI that during October 2001 he was approached by someone soliciting intelligence about "flight training schools, access to airports in (redacted)" and information about "how close the individual could get to an aircraft." ~~snip~~

In addition to the alleged connection to Osama bin Laden's terror network, documents released Tuesday indicate that Aref's name, Albany address and telephone number were found in several suspected terrorist strongholds during the war in Iraq.

Looks like the FBI has been busy around Albany.

1 posted on 03/23/2006 7:01:18 PM PST by prairiebreeze
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Cindy; Calpernia; Mo1; Peach

ping


2 posted on 03/23/2006 7:02:03 PM PST by prairiebreeze (Hey DUmmies!: Pbbbbbllllttttt!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: prairiebreeze

But, but, he is on American soil, we can't infringe on his privacy rights.


3 posted on 03/23/2006 7:09:49 PM PST by msnimje (SAMMY for SANDY --- THAT IS WHAT I CALL A GOOD TRADE!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: msnimje

No indeed.


4 posted on 03/23/2006 7:22:23 PM PST by prairiebreeze (Hey DUmmies!: Pbbbbbllllttttt!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: prairiebreeze
Aref, 35, a Kurdish refugee who moved to Albany with his family in 1999...

Translation:

Aref, 35, an Iraqi refugee who moved to Albany with his family in 1999...

5 posted on 06/18/2006 12:59:58 AM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: prairiebreeze

At least one of these guys' wives is associated with Women Against War. Her husband was deported to Jordan and she chose to stay behind and "edcate us about Islam," etc.


6 posted on 06/18/2006 1:02:54 AM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cindy; Grampa Dave
Aref is an Iraqi native and imam of the mosque -- Masjid As-Salam -- while Hossain helped found the mosque after emigrating from Bangladesh. They're accused of laundering $40,000 for a man they believed was plotting to kill a Pakistani diplomat in New York City, according to a federal criminal complaint.
----- "Federal Agents Raid Mosque In Albany, N.Y. : Authorities say arrests of two members of Albany mosque, though not linked to current alert," by BRENDAN LYONS and PAUL GRONDAHL, Courtesy of The Times Union, Updated: August 9th, 2004 10:31 AM EDT

7 posted on 06/18/2006 1:09:03 AM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: prairiebreeze; Fedora; Cindy
Qadeer Khan sting ping

The men were lured into the scheme with the promise of profiting from the illegal sale of a shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missile that the informant told them would be used to kill a Pakistani ambassador as payback for the jailing of Abdul Qadir Khan, a founder of Pakistan's nuclear program. The assassination was supposed to take place near the United Nations headquarters, according to the complaint.
------ "Federal Agents Raid Mosque In Albany, N.Y. : Authorities say arrests of two members of Albany mosque, though not linked to current alert," by BRENDAN LYONS and PAUL GRONDAHL, Courtesy of The Times Union, Updated: August 9th, 2004 10:31 AM EDT

8 posted on 06/18/2006 1:13:11 AM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: piasa
The mosque was bought in 1999 by the North American Islamic Trust, a public charity that controls hundreds of other mosques nationwide. It features a large open area carpeted for prayer, mismatched chairs and few amenities.
The mosque was previously in a smaller building on Central Avenue, but as its membership grew, the trust purchased the larger building five years ago. Membership has increased to about 200 regular worshippers, members said.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks FBI agents questioned members about a mosque founder, Ali Mounnes Yaghi, an openly anti-American Jordanian immigrant who operated pizza businesses in the city for about 15 years. Yaghi was jailed as a federal detainee for almost a year as the FBI investigated whether he or any of his acquaintances had connections to terrorist cells or the Sept. 11 attacks.
------ "Federal Agents Raid Mosque In Albany, N.Y. : Authorities say arrests of two members of Albany mosque, though not linked to current alert," by BRENDAN LYONS and PAUL GRONDAHL, Courtesy of The Times Union, Updated: August 9th, 2004 10:31 AM EDT

9 posted on 06/18/2006 1:20:05 AM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: piasa

THANKS for the pings and posts to this thread, piasa.


10 posted on 06/18/2006 1:23:17 AM PDT by Cindy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: piasa

Thanks for posting this.

If we can find the data, hopefully the FBI and other agencies can find it.

Of course the left wing lunatics who hate America will complain about this homeland intel gathering.


11 posted on 06/18/2006 8:34:30 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (There's a dwindling market for Marxist Homosexual Lunatic wet dreams posing as journalism)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: piasa

Thanks for the pings. I wonder what's in Albany that they decided to set up shop there. I'd guess being closer to the Canadian border than NYC might be a factor, but that would only answer part of it--I'm still wondering, why Albany instead of, say, Buffalo or Syracuse?


12 posted on 06/18/2006 8:44:48 AM PDT by Fedora
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Fedora
IS there a rich Muslim there. Most of them start feeling guilty making money and getting lap dances, then they start down the radical Islamic path, next, Pakistanis start building a community there...by the way have you ever been to India. IT was interesting to see how a muslim community if formed.

First, before any Muslim can build a house where there are no Muslims, a mosque has to be built. Then, around the mosque, Muslims build their homes. The community starts that way. If Albany has a mosque...look at the homes around it...most of them are occupied by Muslims.

13 posted on 11/16/2006 4:48:06 AM PST by USMMA_83 (Tantra is my fetish ;))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: USMMA_83

Good thinking--thanks for the idea!


14 posted on 11/16/2006 2:16:09 PM PST by Fedora
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: piasa

Ping to good suggestion in #13.


15 posted on 11/16/2006 2:16:46 PM PST by Fedora
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: prairiebreeze

bump


16 posted on 11/16/2015 1:12:41 AM PST by piasa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fedora

Mullah Krekar’s in the news again. Why he isn’t room temperature is a mystery.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3360753/posts


17 posted on 11/16/2015 1:22:20 AM PST by piasa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

In Afghanistan BEFORE 9/11 attacks of 2001:

“One of the men, a 26-year-old ex-convict named John Earl Johnson, was arrested by Albany police in December 2001 as he exited the mosque carrying a rifle. A year later, Johnson was arrested again while driving on the New York State Thruway in Herkimer in a van that authorities say was loaded with weapons and computer discs containing terrorism-related manuals.

The manuals included information on how to make fertilizer bombs, nitroglycerine, cyanide, chorine gas and letter bombs.

Johnson, who has served at least two prison terms, was also arrested in Afghanistan in March 2000 carrying similar computer discs, according to the FBI report and law enforcement sources. “


18 posted on 11/16/2015 1:26:09 AM PST by piasa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: piasa

Thanks for the update!


19 posted on 11/16/2015 10:09:17 PM PST by Fedora
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson