Wednesday, December 12, 2012
By Kaija Wilkinson
(Reuters) - Federal authorities arrested two Alabama men on terrorism charges on Tuesday, accusing them of plotting to wage violent jihad overseas after meeting online in 2010.
Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair and Randy Wilson, also known as Rasheed Wilson, were arrested in separate locations in the state of Georgia, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Alabama.
Authorities said Wilson was a friend and former roommate of Omar Shafik Hammami, an American who was added to the FBI's Most Wanted list of terrorism suspects last month. Hammami is suspected of being a senior leader in al Shabaab, a Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate, and is wanted on terrorism charges in Alabama.
Wilson was taken into custody in Atlanta as he attempted to board a flight headed to Morocco on Tuesday, and Abukhdair was apprehended at an Augusta bus terminal, authorities said.
According to the criminal complaint, Abukhdair had planned to fly to Morocco on Thursday.
The two men, both 25 and residents of Mobile, face charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, allegations that stem from their plans to eventually travel to Mauritania intending to prepare to wage violent jihad, authorities said. Abukhdair is also charged with passport fraud.
The men met online in 2010, the criminal complaint said. Abukhdair was one of several people arrested in Egypt in 2010 on suspicion of terrorist activities. He served two months in jail before being deported back to the United States, authorities said.
A native of Syracuse, New York, he moved to Mobile in 2011 to live with Wilson and his family, authorities said.
In August 2011, an undercover FBI agent met with Wilson, who shared a plot that involved Abukhdair applying for a new passport by falsely claiming his old one had been lost. The complaint alleges that Abukhdair was concerned the Egyptian stamps on his passport would raise red flags with authorities.
The plan initially involved the men traveling to Somalia, where Wilson said he believed his connections with Hammami would afford him special treatment, according to the complaint.
The undercover agent said he and the two men watched videos of prison beheadings and mutilation of corpses of children and soldiers. Wilson described the deaths of innocent people as "collateral damage," the complaint said.
The men ultimately decided traveling to Mauritania to carry out their plot would be less risky and suspicious, the complaint said.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Eric Walsh)