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Court Papers Say Yemeni Warned U.S.

Extradited Sheik's Attorneys Want Transcripts Barred From Trial

Associated Press
Tuesday, December 7, 2004; Page A09

NEW YORK, Dec. 6 -- A Yemeni sheik accused of funneling millions of dollars to terrorist networks warned U.S. agents that "Allah will bring storms" to America because of his arrest, according to newly filed court papers.

Mohammed Ali Hassan Al Moayad made the remark last year after a German court ordered him extradited to the United States to face charges of helping to finance al Qaeda and Hamas, prosecutors said in the documents, filed in U.S. District Court.

Mohammed Ali Hassan Al Moayad allegedly said "Allah will bring storms" to the United States.

The statement -- spoken in English to agents bringing Al Moayad from Frankfurt to New York on Nov. 16, 2003 -- counters defense claims that he has no command of the language, prosecutors said.

"Allah is with me," he allegedly told a detective. "I am Mohammed Al Moayad. Allah will bring storms to Germany and America."

Prosecutors have previously alleged that Al Moayad was overheard boasting about his relationship with Osama bin Laden, saying in Arabic that bin Laden "tells me that I'm his sheik."

The defense says his statements during a sting operation at a hotel in Frankfurt were mistranslated from Arabic by FBI informant Mohamed Alanssi, who set himself on fire outside the White House last month.

The new documents, filed late Friday, offer details of Al Moayad's conversations with an undercover FBI operative posing as an American Muslim eager to donate $2.5 million to terrorist causes.

"Where is my money going to? Is it going to Hamas? Or is it al Qaeda? . . . I need to know," the operative demanded during one clandestine meeting, according to the papers.

Al Moayad allegedly replied: "The way we see it is to support all organizations -- Hamas, al Qaeda . . . mujaheddin and such. Everybody that we learn is fighting jihad to raise God's word we shall support."

The transcripts also say he told the operative he was in regular contact with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and had "knowledge of every aspect" of the Palestinian Islamic group.

The papers were filed in response to defense motions asking a judge to bar portions of the transcripts from Al Moayad's upcoming trial.

Attorneys for Al Moayad and his alleged accomplice, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, have sought to discredit the transcripts by attacking Alanssi, who lured the cleric into the sting and acted as a translator between Al Moayad and the FBI operative.

A defense motion called Alanssi's translations "inaccurate, incomplete and frequently embellished." Alanssi is recovering from burns after setting himself on fire, reportedly because he was distraught over his role as a witness against Al Moayad.

But prosecutors suggested that because Al Moayad speaks English, he understood what the translator was saying during the sting and did not correct any alleged embellishments.

Prosecutors insist the translations were accurate and said excluding portions of them from evidence would "make it almost impossible for the jury to understand what happened."

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