FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
EARNEST JAMES UJAAMA PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO SUPPLY GOODS AND SERVICES TO THE TALIBAN, AGREES TO COOPERATE WITH TERRORISM INVESTIGATIONS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff of the Criminal Division, and U.S. Attorney John McKay of the Western District of Washington announced today that Earnest James Ujaama has entered a guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to provide goods and services to the Taliban.
Ujaama, of Seattle, Washington, entered the plea today before U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein, at federal court in Seattle. Ujaama was originally charged in a two-count indictment last August. In conjunction with the plea agreement entered today, the United States government filed a superseding felony information charging Ujaama with conspiring to provide support, including computer software, technology and services, to the Taliban and to persons in the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), Title 50 USC 1705. That charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Ujaama has been cooperating with the government in ongoing terrorism investigations. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he will continue to cooperate with federal, state and local law enforcement, intelligence and military authorities, as well as foreign governments. In return for Ujaama’s complete and truthful cooperation, the agreement calls for Ujaama to serve two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. In addition, for a period of up to 10 years, Ujaama will be required to abide by conditions to ensure that he continues to cooperate and poses no danger to the community. Among other things, those conditions bar Ujaama from associating or communicating with members of a terrorist organization or anyone involved in a crime of terrorism, and require him to keep the U.S. Attorney’s Office apprised of his residence, surrender his passport and not leave the continental United States without prior written approval.
Attorney General John Ashcroft thanked U.S. Attorney John McKay, Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, the FBI and its federal, state and local law enforcement partners on the Seattle Joint Terrorism Task Force for their work in securing today’s guilty plea.
“An important part of our war against terrorism is to obtain the cooperation of insiders who have direct knowledge of the activities of dangerous terrorists. We are pleased that Mr. Ujaama has agreed to plead guilty, accept responsibility for his criminal conduct, and cooperate fully regarding others engaged in criminal and terrorist activity both here and abroad,” Attorney General Ashcroft said. “We expect his cooperation to lead to the arrest of additional terrorists and the disruption of future terrorist activity.”
U.S. Attorney John McKay added: “By accepting responsibility for his actions and by agreeing to cooperate fully with the United States government, Earnest James Ujaama will assist this nation and other nations in the fight against terrorism.”
The plea agreement’s Statement of Facts explains that in late 2000, an individual referred to as unindicted co-conspirator # 1 arranged for unindicted co-conspirator #2, a person desiring to undergo violent jihad training, to travel from London, England to Afghanistan to attend jihad training camps. At the direction of co-conspirator #1, Ujaama traveled with co-conspirator #2 from London to Pakistan, and then facilitated co-conspirator #2's travel to the training camps in Afghanistan. In court today, Ujaama admitted that he was aware of the purpose of co-conspirator #2's travel. The plea agreement further states that the government’s evidence established that these jihad training camps were affiliated with and used by al Qaeda.
Ujaama further admits that during this same trip, at the direction of co-conspirator #1, he delivered currency and other items to persons in the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban. Ujaama entered Afghanistan with the assistance of Taliban officials and installed software programs that he had brought with him on computers belonging to Taliban officials. In early September 2001, again at the direction of co-conspirator #1, Ujaama transported currency from London to Pakistan with the intent of delivering it to persons in Afghanistan, but he was unable to cross the border into Afghanistan because of the local response to the attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Ujaama also admits that beginning in the spring of 2000, he participated in the operation of the Supporters of Shariah website, on which he posted information urging others to donate money, goods and services to Taliban-sponsored programs.
On July 4, 1999, President Clinton declared a national emergency to deal with the threat posed by al Qaeda and the Taliban, and signed an executive order that prohibited any U.S. person from making or receiving any contribution of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Taliban, and from supplying any goods, software, technology or services to the Taliban or Afghan territory under its control. The national emergency was continued by President Bush in 2001.
The Ujaama investigation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Seattle Joint Terrorism Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew R. Hamilton and Todd Greenberg, and trial attorney George Z. Toscas of the Criminal Division’s Counterterrorism Section.