Skip to comments.Overviews of Al-Bakri offer sharp contrast (suspect in Lackawanna al Quaeda cell)
Posted on 09/17/2002 11:32:01 AM PDT by ganesha
Overviews of Al-Bakri offer sharp contrast By CHARITY VOGEL and DAN HERBECK News Staff Reporters 9/17/2002
Those who know Mukhtar al-Bakri say he is a man who was turning his life around.
The 22-year-old Yemenite-American, a former Lackawanna High School student, had no money and no steady job for more than a year, but he traveled to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain to meet and marry a Muslim woman in an arranged wedding, his family members said Monday.
Federal agents, however, have a grimmer view of what al-Bakri was up to in Bahrain.
Based on a phone call from al-Bakri to another man in Lackawanna, federal agents believe that al-Bakri was preparing for a suicide bombing mission, CBS News reported Monday.
"Goodbye," al-Bakri said during the call, which was monitored by intelligence agents in Bahrain, according to CBS News. "You won't be hearing from me again."
After his arrest, al-Bakri explained that he meant he was "getting married and dropping out of sight."
But intelligence agents said they believe that his words were the farewell message of a suicide bomber about to attack the U.S. base in Bahrain, CBS News reported. The base went on Delta Alert - its highest state of readiness - shortly after the intercept, the network reported.
Al-Bakri is the sixth Lackawanna man to stand accused of belonging to an alleged sleeper cell of the al-Qaida terrorist network. A plea of not guilty was entered Monday during al-Bakri's arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr., after al-Bakri was transported back to Western New York from Bahrain.
Al-Bakri has admitted to FBI agents that he traveled to Afghanistan last year, learned terrorism tactics at a camp run by al-Qaida, and listened to a speech by Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaida, according to court papers filed by a federal prosecutor.
But his family members said the trip to Bahrain was supposed to mark a new start for al-Bakri, who had not had much luck with work and money in recent years.
Ahmed al-Bakri, the suspect's brother and a Lackawanna resident, said al-Bakri was arrested the day after he married his Muslim bride. "She really cried," said Ahmed al-Bakri, describing the bride's reaction to her husband's arrest.
Fatima al-Bakri, an older female relative of al-Bakri's who also lives in Lackawanna, said al-Bakri is "not what people are saying about him."
"He likes the U.S. more than anything," she said. "He's a good boy. He's honest. He's not what they say about him."
Mukhtar al-Bakri graduated from Lackawanna High School in 2000 or 2001, Fatima al-Bakri said, and he likes watching the Buffalo Sabres and playing football.
She would not say whether her relative was born in the United States or came to the country as a young man. But a Lackawanna relative, identified only as al-Bakri's "brother," told the Associated Press that al-Bakri came to the United States when he was 15 or 16.
The brother told the AP that his own home, where Mukhtar al-Bakri used to live, was raided by the FBI on Friday night and that personal computers, his brother's phone bill and bus tickets were seized. The family will have more to say after Wednesday's court appearance by Mukhtar al-Bakri's parents, Fatima al-Bakri said.
In court Monday, al-Bakri - who wore dark blue jail coveralls - was given a court-appointed lawyer, John J. Molloy. That happened after al-Bakri told Schroeder that he is virtually penniless and has been unemployed since May 2001, when he last worked at a steady job - as a deliveryman.
His attorney said al-Bakri has been in Bahrain for weeks.
Residents of the community and family members had little to say about the arrest of al-Bakri, who at age 22 is the youngest yet to be arrested in connection with the alleged sleeper cell in Lackawanna.
"That's his business," said a cousin, also named Ahmed al-Bakri, who owns a corner store and grocery on Esser Avenue in Buffalo's Riverside section. "He's younger than me. I don't give a (care) about him."
When he was arraigned, al-Bakri spoke respectfully to the judge in clear English. Molloy described his client as "a little confused by everything that is happening so fast."
All six suspects are being detained without bail pending a bail hearing Wednesday.
News Staff Reporters Michael Beebe, T.J. Pignataro and Jay Rey contributed to this report.
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"Football"--English newspeak for soccer. Go Pats!
American men say this when they are getting married, but I thought Muslims were macho.
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