Terror Suspects Called Bin Laden Followers

By Larry Neumeister
Associated Press
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

NEW YORK, May 30 -- Two U.S. citizens facing terrorism charges -- one a doctor and the other a self-described martial arts expert -- became enthusiastic followers of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden before their arrest, according to court papers released Monday.

Rafiq Abdus Sabir, 50, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Tarik Shah, 42, of New York -- who also said he is a jazz musician -- were arrested Friday on charges that they conspired to provide material support to al Qaeda, an FBI agent said. If convicted, each could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Sabir and Shah were to appear Tuesday in federal courthouses in Fort Pierce, Fla., and Manhattan. Their attorneys' names were not available Monday.

Shah's mother, Marlene Jenkins of Albany, N.Y., told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he is not a terrorist. Sabir's ex-wife, Ingrid Doyle of New York, told the newspaper he was a good father and husband and a hardworking man.

A complaint unsealed Monday repeatedly described Shah's zest to train "brothers" for urban warfare. It alleged both pledged their allegiance to al Qaeda at a May 20 meeting in the Bronx.

Shah went with an informer to a windowless Long Island warehouse to see if the location would be adequate as a training site, unaware that FBI agents were secretly videotaping the visit, the papers said.

He discussed a desire to open a machine shop to make weapons so fellow enthusiasts would not have to rely on anyone else to get guns, the complaint said.

"Shah indicated that his 'greatest cover has been' his career as a 'professional' jazz musician," wrote Brian Murphy, the FBI agent who prepared the complaint.

At one point, the informer told Shah he was going to take him to Plattsburgh, N.Y., to introduce him to a recruiter from the Middle East -- who was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Murphy said Shah was eager to introduce Sabir to the recruiter, who was first mentioned in January 2004.

Shah also discussed a desire to start a martial arts school only for Muslims and said he hoped to be trained in chemicals, explosives, firearms, AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, the complaint said. The defendant allegedly discussed martyrdom with the informer, saying he and Sabir had been persecuted for many years.

The two men may have known each other for more than a decade, according to the Los Angeles Times. Records show they shared a common address on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem, where in 1993 Shah set up a business called the Expansion of Knowledge Center. Sabir listed the same address as his residence in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Both men were kicked out of a Bronx mosque where Sabir was an assistant imam after Sabir took Shah and another person to the mosque to teach urban warfare, the papers said.

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