[lit-ideas] Freed Terror Suspect

  • From: JulieReneB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 22:14:10 EDT

What in the world does anyone make of this???
Julie Krueger

<<AP: Administration Freed Terror Suspect 
27 minutes ago

By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer 
WASHINGTON - Nabil al-Marabh was No. 27 on the FBI's list of terror suspects 
after Sept. 11. He trained in Afghanistan's militant camps, sent money to a 
roommate convicted in a foiled plot to bomb a hotel and boasted to an informant 
about plans to blow up a fuel truck inside a New York tunnel, FBI documents 
allege. The Bush administration set him free   to Syria â?? even though 
prosecutors had sought to bring criminal cases against him and judges openly 
expressed 
concerns about possible terrorist ties. 
Al-Marabh served an eight-month jail sentence and was sent in January to his 
native Syria, which is regarded by the United States as a sponsor of 
terrorism. The quiet disposition of his case stands in stark contrast to the 
language 
FBI agents used to describe the man. 
Al-Marabh "intended to martyr himself in an attack against the United 
States," an FBI agent wrote in a December 2002 report obtained by The 
Associated 
Press. A footnote in al-Marabh's deportation ruling last year added, "The FBI 
has 
been unable to rule out the possibility that al-Marabh has engaged in 
terrorist activity or will do so if he is not removed from the United States." 
One FBI report summarized a high-level debriefing of a Jordanian informant 
named Ahmed Y. Ashwas that was personally conducted by the U.S. attorney in 
Chicago, signifying its importance. The informant alleged al-Marabh told him of 
specific terrorist plans during their time in prison. 
Even the judge who accepted al-Marabh's plea agreement on minor immigration 
charges in 2002 balked. "Something about this case just makes me feel 
uncomfortable," Judge Richard Arcara said in court. The Justice Department  
assured the 
judge that al-Marabh did not have terrorist ties. 
A second judge who ultimately ordered al-Marabh's deportation sided with FBI 
agents, federal prosecutors and Customs agents in the field who believed 
al-Marabh was tied to terrorism. 
"The court finds applicant does present a danger to national security," U.S. 
Immigration Judge Robert D. Newberry ruled, concluding al-Marabh was "credibly 
linked to elements of terrorism" and had a "propensity to lie." 
Neither the courts nor al-Marabh's lawyers were given access to the most 
striking allegations provided by the Jordanian informant. 
Asked to explain the decision to free al-Marabh, Justice spokesman Bryan 
Sierra said the government has concerns about many people with suspected terror 
ties but cannot effectively try them in court without giving away intelligence 
sources and methods. 
"If the government cannot prosecute terrorism charges, another option is to 
remove the individual from the United States via deportation. After careful 
review, this was determined to be the best option available under the law to 
protect our national security," he said. 
But a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee scoffed at the explanation. 
"It's hard to believe that the best way to deal with the FBI's 27th most 
wanted terrorist is to send him back to a terrorist-sponsoring country," said 
Sen. 
Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. He said the Justice Department could have used a 
military tribunal or a classified criminal. "This action certainly raises a lot 
of 
questions and demands a lot of answers," Schumer said. 
Internal FBI and Justice Department documents reviewed by AP show prosecutors 
and FBI agents in several cities gathered evidence that linked al-Marabh to: 
_Raed Hijazi, the Boston cab driver convicted in Jordan for plotting to blow 
up an American-frequented hotel in Amman during the millennium celebrations of 
1999. Al-Marabh and Hijazi were roommates at the Afghan training camps and 
later in the United States, and al-Marabh sent money to Hijazi. 
_The Detroit apartment where four men were arrested in what became the 
administration's first major terror prosecution after Sept. 11. Al-Marabh's 
name was 
still on the rental unit when agents raided it. The men were found with false 
IDs and documents describing alleged terror plots. 
_Several large deposits, withdrawals and overseas wire transfers in 1998 and 
2000 that were flagged as suspicious by a Boston bank. The Customs Service 
first identified al-Marabh in 2001 for possible terrorist ties to Hijazi. 
FBI documents said Al-Marabh denied being affiliated with al-Qaida. But he 
acknowledged receiving "security" training in rifles and rocket-propelled 
grenades in Afghan mujahedeen camps, sending money to his friend Hijazi, using 
a 
fake address to get a truck driving license and buying a phony passport for 
$4,000 in Canada to sneak into the United States shortly before Sept. 11. 
Al-Marabh's attorney, Mark Kriger, said Wednesday he had never seen the 
Jordanian informant report and still doesn't believe his client had anything to 
do 
with terrorism. He said his client broke ties with Hijazi years ago after a 
falling out. 
 
Kriger said he found it unbelievable "that the government, if it believed 
Ashwas, would have deported Mr. al-Marabh rather than indict him." 
The Justice Department's criminal division chief, Chris Wray, expressed 
concern to Congress last month that some suspects were being deported to 
freedom. 
"It may be more difficult than people would expect" to make a case against a 
suspect, even when he or she trained at terror camps, he said. 
"We may be able to deport the person under the immigration laws," Wray added. 
"And while that should give us some comfort, the fact is, if we go that 
route, the person is removed to another country and turned loose there, and we 
have 
no ability to make sure that they're not engaged in further terrorist 
activity." 
At one point in late 2002, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago 
drafted an indictment against al-Marabh on multiple counts of making false 
statements in his interviews with FBI agents. Justice headquarters declined 
prosecution. Fitzgerald declined through a spokesman to discuss the reasons. 
Fitzgerald then tracked down Ashwas, the Jordanian who because of minor 
immigration problems had spent time with al-Marabh in a federal detention cell 
in 
2002. Fitzgerald had the man flown to Chicago and oversaw his debriefing along 
with FBI agents from Chicago and Detroit, documents show. 
Ashwas alleged that during one of his encounters he helped persuade the 
prison psychiatrist to prescribe al-Marabh an anti-anxiety drug called Claripan 
and 
that al-Marabh began talking more freely, the FBI reported. 
The FBI summarized Ashwas' allegations: 
_Al-Marabh said he aided Hijazi's flight from authorities and sent him money, 
plotted a martyrdom attack in the United States and took instructions from a 
mystery figure in Chicago known only as "al Mosul," which means "boss" in 
Arabic. 
_Al Mosul asked al-Marabh to attend a driving school in Detroit with Arabic 
instructors so he could get a commercial truck driver's license, and arranged 
for al-Marabh to live in the Detroit apartment later raided by the FBI as a 
terror cell. 
_Al-Marabh said he and Hijazi planned to steal a fuel truck from a rest stop 
in New York and New Jersey and detonate it in the heavily traveled Lincoln or 
Holland tunnels, but the plan was foiled when Hijazi was arrested. 
_Al-Marabh acknowledged he had distributed money â?? as much as $200,000 a 
month â?? to the various training camps in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. 
The FBI and prosecutors confirmed some aspects of Ashwas' account, including 
that al-Marabh had been at the Detroit apartment, had trained at at least one 
Afghan camp and had gotten the truck driver's license. 
Fitzgerald wasn't alone in his efforts to try to bring a case against 
al-Marabh 
Prosecutors and FBI agents in other states sought to get enough evidence to 
prosecute him. 
In Detroit, prosecutors developed evidence but weren't allowed to bring a 
case connecting al-Marabh to the terror cell there. 
One of those prosecutors, longtime career Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard 
Convertino, recently sued Ashcroft, alleging the Justice Department improperly 
interfered with prosecuting terrorists. Justice says Convertino is under 
investigation for possibly withholding a piece of evidence from defense lawyers 
in 
the Detroit terror case. 
When al-Marabh's name surfaced in the Detroit trial in March 2003, an FBI 
agent said al-Marabh remained under investigation for terrorism but hadn't been 
charged. 
"Mr. Al-Marabh was listed No. 27 on the FBI Watch List," agent Michael Thomas 
testified. "He was a known associate, a former roommate of Mr. Raed Hijazi." 
Less than 10 months after Thomas' testimony, al-Marabh was freed from custody 
and put on a plane to Syria.>>
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&e=12

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