FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
SAUDI NATIONAL CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY TO PROVIDE
MATERIAL SUPPORT TO HAMAS AND OTHER VIOLENT JIHADISTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division, and U.S. Attorney Tom Moss of the District of Idaho announced today that Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a graduate student from Saudi Arabia, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to HAMAS, a designated foreign terrorist organization, and to other violent jihadists.
A superseding indictment returned at U.S. District Court in Boise, Idaho this morning adds additional charges of providing and concealing material support to terrorists to the indictment already lodged against Al-Hussayen. Al-Hussayen had been previously indicted on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, seven counts of visa fraud and four counts of false statements. His trial is scheduled to begin on April 13, 2004.
“Terrorists increasingly use the internet to communicate their evil plans and to garner recruits, money and other material support for their violent activities,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “We will aggressively pursue and prosecute those who use their specialized computer skills to knowingly and intentionally support such terrorist conspiracies.”
The indictment cites two websites created and controlled by Al-Hussayen and others that included pages devoted to violent jihad - or holy war - in Israel. One of them, <http://www.islamway.com>, included a section urging Muslims to contribute money to HAMAS to “assist their brothers in their honorable jihad against the dictatorial Zionist Jewish enemy.” Both sites also included links to the official HAMAS website where such donations could be made, according to the indictment.
Altogether, the indictment alleges that Al-Hussayen operated more than a dozen websites on behalf of: the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) in Detroit, Michigan; the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation; a Saudi-based company called Dar Al-Asr; and two radical Saudi sheikhs. It alleges that Al-Hussayen knew and intended that his computer services and expertise would be used to recruit and to raise funds for violent jihad in Israel, Chechnya and elsewhere and that he conspired to conceal the nature of his activities.
Among the specific allegations is the charge that Al-Hussayen moderated an e-mail group for people who wanted to participate in violent jihad. The group allegedly solicited “those who cannot physically engage in holy war,” and ultimately grew to more than 2,400 members. Its first posting came from Al-Hussayen on Feb. 2, 2000, according to the indictment. It allegedly was a “Cry and Call” to Muslims, exhorting them to “fight the idolator with your money, your selves, your tongues and your prayers.”
The indictment alleges that Al-Hussayen and others sent numerous postings to the group, including one in which he forwarded materials entitled “Virtues of Jihad,” glorifying those who die in holy war. Postings by others to the e-mail group included an “urgent appeal” to Muslims in the U.S. military asking them to identify potential U.S. targets in the Middle East.
According to the indictment, the various websites with which Al-Hussayen was involved published a variety of violent jihad materials, including graphic videos of mujahideen, or holy warriors, intended to recruit fighters and financial supporters of violent jihad. The indictment charges that several articles extolling the Chechen warriors and glorifying martyrdom were found on the server for IANA’s www.al-multaqa.com website and on the defendant’s home computer.
Al-Hussayen is also alleged to have received and disbursed out of his bank accounts more than $300,000 in excess of the study-related funds he received from his home government, much of which was paid to IANA for salaries, travel and other operational expenses.
The new charges allege that Al-Hussayen conspired with others to provide money and communications equipment to the Islamic Resistance Group, or HAMAS, which was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization on Oct. 8, 1997, and redesignated again in 1999, 2001 and 2003.
Al-Hussayen has been a graduate student at various universities in the United States for more than nine years. Most recently, he has been seeking a PhD in computer security from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.
The investigation, which is ongoing, is being conducted by the Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force; the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Division and its offices in Couer d’Alene, Boise and Lewiston, Idaho; the FBI’s Seattle Field Division and its Spokane, Washington office; the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Boise, Spokane; IRS offices in Boise and Spokane; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Spokane; the Secret Service, Spokane; the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Spokane; the Idaho State Police; the Washington State Patrol; the Moscow, Idaho, Police Department; the Spokane Police Department; the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office; the Spokane Criminal Intelligence United, the Latah County Sheriff’s Office; the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Boise and Spokane; and the Counterterrorism Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
The prosecution team consists of Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist of the District of Idaho; David Deitch, Department of Justice Counterterrorism Section; Todd Hinnen, DOJ Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section; and Terry Derden, First Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.