Skip to comments.AL QAIDA IN THE RANKS? Noncitizen (Naval) reservist suspected of ties to terrorist network
Posted on 07/26/2002 11:00:47 AM PDT by aristeides
The al-Qaida terrorist network may have infiltrated the U.S. Navy getting access to bases, uniforms, refueling procedures and more.
Federal authorities in the Seattle area are holding a drilling Naval reservist, a non-U.S. citizen, suspected of having ties to Islamic radicals with known connections to al-Qaida.
Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Semi Osman, 32, was arrested May 17 at his home in Tacoma, Wash., on charges of illegally trying to become a U.S. citizen and possession of a handgun whose serial number was obliterated or altered, according to court documents.
Osman pleaded not guilty at a June 5 arraignment before Magistrate Judge John Weinberg. He faces a jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Ziley on Aug. 12 in Seattle.
A federal official said Osman could receive a maximum of 10 years in prison on the immigration charge if convicted, and up to 5 years for the weapons charge.
Osman, who also served briefly in the U.S. Army in 1998, apparently first entered the United States in 1988 with a British passport. He has not been formerly (sic) charged as a terrorist, but a search warrant issued May 31 by the U.S. District Court in Seattle asserts that evidence seized from Osmans apartment constitutes material support for terrorists or foreign-terrorist organizations.
If that can be proven, Osman would likely be the first U.S. service member publicly linked to a terrorism group since Sept. 11.
Searches of the apartment turned up Islamic literature, anti-American papers, military instruction manuals, maps, survival gear, handguns, an assault rifle and ammunition all legal.
But authorities also found and seized a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun with its serial number filed off, documents said. Other items listed include:
1) A Lebanese passport issued in the name of Sami Samir El-Kassem. The date and place of birth are 1970 in Sierra Leone. The photo appears to be that of Semi Osman as a young child.
2) A book entitled Acquiring New ID that contained, between its pages, a Washington state birth certificate in the name of Daniel Anthony McClellan.
3) A document that looked like a scanned version of the Daniel McClellan birth certificate with the name altered to read Michael McClellan.
4) A visa application for Yemen.
Joining the Navy
Osman enlisted in the Naval Reserve on June 28, 2001, under the Non-Prior Service Accession Course, a Tacoma Reserve Center spokesman said. Until his arrest, Osman participated in monthly drills at the Tacoma drill center as a member of Supply Support Battalion One, Company F, a fueling unit.
According to his supervisors, he was just like all our new affiliates eager to learn the job and get qualified in his position, said Cmdr. John Croce, a spokesman for Navy Supply Support Battalion One.
In early 1988 (sic), Osman reportedly served briefly in the Army, undergoing basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., from February to March 1998, before discharging as an E-2. Army officials contacted at Fort Benning could not locate records pertaining to Osmans Army service, saying they likely had been transferred to permanent storage.
As a new Reserve member, Osman spent the bulk of his weekend duty training in Tacoma, though he also attended one field training exercise at Fort Lewis, Wash., Croce said.
He didnt actually have access to fuel, Croce said. It was an exercise in setting up equipment like a field fuel depot.
But even that kind of observation could have been valuable to a terrorist organization, said Larry C. Johnson, a former deputy director in the State Departments Office of Counterterrorism. A terrorist sympathizer holding a relatively benign job in the Navy could gather plenty of intelligence useful for a terrorist attack, he said.
The successful October 2000 terrorist attack on the destroyer Cole, in the port of Aden, Yemen, probably was accomplished with information about fueling times and procedures, Johnson said.
Getting a terrorist or sympathizer into the U.S. military is an intelligence bonanza, he said. Theyll know what type of fuel is being used, what the procedures are.
Such an individual also would have access to official identification and uniforms, Johnson said.
If the guy has any type of ties whatsoever, its very serious. Military ID could be obtained and copied, he said. With access to uniforms, someone could appear to be something theyre not.
Numerous bases nearby
The Tacoma Reserve Center is plum in the center of a host of military installations located in and around Puget Sound. The region is home to about 35,000 sailors and their families, spread out among four major Navy bases: Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Naval Station Bremerton/Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Station Everett and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Other smaller Navy facilities also are in the region, with the Armys Fort Lewis, which provides small-arms training and other facilities to sailors in the region, and McChord Air Force Base.
Lt. John Filostrat, a Naval Reserve spokesman in New Orleans, said Naval Reserve officials are cooperating with the federal investigation.
Were working with them. . . . Anything they need, were there to supply, he said.
Pending the outcome of his arrest, Osman has been transferred to a non-drilling, non-paid status in a Volunteer Training Unit, Filostrat said.
From Sierra Leone via London
Among the court documents is a deposition given by Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent Darrick Smalley, in which he states that Osman appears to have been born Sami Samir El-Kassem in Sierra Leone. He holds a British passport and immigrated to the United States sometime in the late 1980s, entering te country through New York City in December 1988 on a tourist visa and a British passport in the name of Semi Osman. By June 2001, when he joined the Naval Reserve, he was listed as a permanent legal resident of the United States.
The military services allow noncitizens to enlist. The active-duty Navy has 16,248 noncitizen members. Noncitizens are not allowed to hold certain ratings, including those that require security clearances. Statistics on how many noncitizens are in the Naval Reserve were not available.
Grand jury investigation
The Seattle Times reported July 12 that a federal grand jury was investigating several Seattle Muslims including Osman for possible connections to terrorist groups.
Grand juries conduct their work in secret, but the paper quoted sources who asserted the jury is examining whether members of the now-defunct Dar-us-Salaam and Taqwa mosques in Seattle have aligned themselves with Sheik Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical London cleric suspected by Western officials of recruiting for al-Qaida.
Osmans civilian attorney, Robert Leen, said his client is not a terrorist and is not cooperating with federal investigators.
The grand jury is looking into a lot of things, he said. But Leen acknowledged Osmans ties to the mosques pose a challenge to his defense. Its true he was a member of a mosque where its clear there were some things going on that probably bear investigation, Leen said.
U.S. officials were tipped off to a possible link between the religious centers by a British-born Taliban member in custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the paper reported.
The Taliban soldier, Geroz Abassi, told investigators earlier this year that he traveled to Afghanistan from London in 2000 with a Muslim convert with ties to Seattle.
The two men reportedly met at the North London Central Mosque, the religious center led by Abu Hamza that was visited by Zacarias Moussaoui, the only suspect charged in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, and Richard Reid, the man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. jet liner with explosives hidden in his shoe.
Two men from Abu Hamzas London mosque then traveled from New York in late November 1999 to a remote ranch in Bly, Ore., where Osman lived with a woman and two children.
Klamath County, Ore., Sheriff Tim Evinger told the Associated Press that Abu Hamza, other men of Middle Eastern descent and their guests were on the property for about three months.
There were some folks living there, and they had some guests. They did some shooting on the property, mostly small-arms practice, said Evinger, who was on the Klamath Falls police force at the time.
The military is able to "profile" for certain categories that require background updates and remove access to information and position. They do so for excess debt, drug use, AFFILIATION with particular groups.
If I remember the group listing accurately, certain religious groups were on the restricted listing. Adherence to any wahhabi Islamic sect should require loss of access.
Because our dumb government says so. Check out this link from the Selective Service System.
The United States doesn't need any help from any of the above but our diversity crazed multicuturalist leaders seem to think nothing of putting American lives in harms way for a vote to save the party.
Election time is coming up. Make your statement to these people at the polls.
Thanks for the ping C11.
The biggest explosion in French history was done by an Islamikazi a few weeks after he got a job in a fertilizer plant.
It's becoming more prevalent. When I joined the Army 20 years ago I don't recall any non-native born soldiers in Basic, AIT, or my first duty station. Now I see it all the time. We have soldiers from Pakistan, Nigeria, Surinam, you name it. Most enlist as green card holders. I don't like it and I was just as shocked as you when I found out we do this. It reminds me of the waning days of the Roman Empire when the Roman Army relied on Gauls, Goths and Vandals to fill-out the ranks.
Good point, but how do you do a complete background check on someone who has only been in the U.S. for two years and spent the first 20 in Lahore, Pakistan (like one guy I recently served with)? Answer: You can't.