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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Shukrijumah, Siddiqui Again Named In U.S. Terror Alert
(Corrected date: 5/26/1996)
U.S. authorities have again raised the specter of a dirty bomb attack on American soil.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said U.S. authorities are searching for seven al Qaeda operatives within the U.S., including Adnan G. El-Shukrijumah, whom federal authorities say is an associate of accused al Qaeda "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla.
Ashcroft said Shukrijumah has tried to enter the U.S. using several different passports.
The other suspects were Abderraouf Jdey, Aafia Siddiqui, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Amer El-Maati, and Adam Gadahn (related story).
Ashcroft also said Al Qaeda has been seeking recruits who can pass themselves off as Europeans. (AQ recruitment of Christians, AQ recruitment of Gulf War vets). Suspect Adam Gadahn is apparently a white native of California.
All of the operatives named in the press conference have been previously identified in FBI bulletins and alerts. It's not clear what, if any, substantially new intelligence prompted the high-profile press conference.
FBI director Rober Mueller said that federal authorities expect a heightened risk of terrorist attacks against the U.S. between now and the elections in November. Mueller said there was no evidence the seven suspects were working together.
Shukrijumah has sought as a high-value target for months since being identified in an early 2003 FBI advisory. He lived in the same South Florida metro area as Padilla, and the two worshipped at the same mosque. (more on AQ recruiting in that area)
Shukrijumah is also suspected of trying to build a "dirty bomb," or a radioactive dispersal device designed to spread contaminated material over a large area using conventional explosives. He is also believed to be trained as a pilot.
Shukrijumah's father, Gulshair Shukrijumah, was a character witness in the trial of al Qaeda-linked terrorist Clement Rodney Hampton-El. (more on Hampton-El) The elder Shukrijumah was a Saudi cleric who preached in New York City as part of a government outreach program.
Gulshair Shukrijumah was once a translator for blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Newsweek recently identified the elder Shukrijumah as a recipient of suspicious payments from the Saudi embassy, which are under investigation by federal regulators.
Another suspect named during the press conference was Aafia Siddiqui, a female microbiologist suspected of being an al Qaeda bioweapons expert. Siddiqui was also linked to suspicious transactions in Boston which may be tied to Saudi nationals, according to the same Newsweek report. (external link to financing story)
Adnan Shukrijumah's aliases include Adnan G. El Shukri Jumah; Abu Arif; Ja'far Al-Tayar; Jaffar Al-Tayyar; Jafar Tayar; Jaafar Al-Tayyar.
One of the other suspects, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, is a suspect in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings on Kenya and Tanzania. That plot was executed with assistance from several U.S. based terrorist operatives, including a U.S. Special Forces Sgt. named Ali Mohammed who lived in California, and a top-level bin Laden aide living in Texas named Wadih El-Hage.
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