A federal magistrate ordered Hanafi Muslim spokesman Abdul Aziz continued held on a $75,000 bond yesterday, while three other apparent Hanafis arrested Thursday on weapons charges in Maryland posted smaller bonds and went free.
Court documents released yesterday detailed a prior felony record for Aziz in New York and his allegedly illegal purchase of three firearms in Washington last fall. The record and the allegations led to his surprise arrest Thursday at about the same time his father-in-law, Hanafi leader Haamas Abdul Khaalis, was taken into custody.
Khaalis, who led 11 other gunmen in seizing 134 hostages in the takeover of three Washington buildings early in March, was ordered jailed Thursday for violating the terms under which he was orginally released without money bond. He remained in jail last night.
Aziz, who did not participate in the takeovers but who acted as the Hanafis' outside spokesman during the ensuing sieges, could go free if he posts as little as $7,500 in cash, a combination of cash and collateral, or if he can persuade a bail bondsman to post bond.
Aziz's attorney, Harry Alexander, said yesterday, however, that he had no idea when and if Aziz could come up with bond money. Aziz's arrest on illegal weapons charges was primarily motivated by an official desire to defuse possible Hanafi reprisals for the surprise arrest of Khaalis, according to sources close to the case.
The $75,000 bond represented an increase over the $50,000 bond on which Aziz had been held in jail Thursday night, but was less than the $100,000 federal prosecutors argued for.
In setting bond, U.S. Magistrate Henry Kennedy said that Aziz had been convicted of two felonies in New York and had once been committed to a mental institution. "The government's case is not one I would consider weak," he declared.
Meanwhile yesterday, there was official silence on possible reasons for a mysterious trip by Aziz to Saudi Arabia in late March, some time after the takeover. Observers of the Hanafi scene speculated, however, that the trip might be linked to efforts by Khaalis' Hanafi group to gain prestige in the Moslem world.
The takeovers in early March had apparently been motivated, at least in part, by Khaalis' rage against the rival Black Muslim sect in America. The Black Muslims have been recognized by several Moslem nations -- including Saudi Arabia -- as "the sole consultant and trustee for all American Muslim organizations," according to Gordon Hall, an expert on extremist groups who has studied the Muslim sects.
The three men who made bond and went free yesterday had been arrested Thursday by Prince George's County police near a Hyattsville Hanafi residence that U.S. Treasury agents were raiding in a search for illegal firearms.
The men are Phillip Parker, held overnight on a $4,000 bond; Steven Purcell Wright, $2,000 bond, and Gilbert J. Difranza, $5,000. They were charged with possession of dangerous weapons and with being rogues and vagabonds, an archaic Maryland phraseology which roughly means possessing the implements for crime, according to officials.
A county police official said all three apparently are Hanafi Muslims.
The three had appeared before a county commissioner Thursday and were held overnight in the county jail in Upper Marlboro until they posted bond about 10 a.m. yesterday, officials said.
A federal affidavit in support of Aziz's arrest warrant, made available yesterday, said that Aziz had purchased a revolver and a 30-caliber semi-automatic rifle from a Washington sporting goods store on Sept. 9, 1976. He also bought a 12-gauge shotgun from the same store on Sept. 22, the affidavit said.
Aziz had registered the guns properly when he purchased them, the affidavit said, and had registered the revolver and shotgun Oct. 16, 1976 as required by the new Washington gun law.
Court records also show, the affidavit said, that Aziz pleaded guilty to a felony charge of third-degree robbery in a New York City case in 1967. In 1964, Aziz had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possession of a narcotic drug, also in New York.
The affidavit charges that Aziz was therefore in violation of a law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms.
U.S. Treasury agents seized firearms Thursday night at what they described as Hanafi-occupied residences in Kensington and Hyattsville, but it was not disclosed yesterday how many weapons were found.
Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Lawrence Barcella said in court yesterday that his request that Aziz be placed under a $100,000 surety bond was based on the government's belief that Aziz might decide to leave the country now that he has been charged with violation of federal gun laws.
"We have an extremely strong case against the defendant," Barcella told Magistrate Kennedy. "Our case is based on records, not on testimonies which could be cloudy or subject to challenge."
Barcella said that Aziz had been briefly committed to the Manhattan Hospital for the criminally insane in New York for examination during the summer of 1967.He was found to be mentally competent by these examinations.
"The defendant (Aziz) signed government forms at the time he purchased those weapons," said Barcella. "His signature on those forms and on other forms signed by him have been analyzed by handwriting experts and found to be identical."
Barcella noted that Aziz could be imprisoned for up to five years for holding firearms as a convicted felon for each of the three weapons he purchased. He said other charges could come out of comments and threats he said Aziz made to the news media during the Hanafi seiges last month.
Alexander, who asked that Aziz be released on personal bond, argued that the $100,000 bond requested by the government was excessive and was actually intended to "make it difficult for Hanafi Muslims and Mr. Aziz's family."
"The request for a $100,000 bond has been based on what the government thinks Mr. Aziz can rake and scrape," Alexander said. "The most cogent fact is that Mr. Aziz's intention is not to flee. He went to Saudi Arabia, during a very turbulent time, but he returned."
Alexander said that Aziz has firmly established his ties to the community. Alexander told the court that Aziz has a wife and three children who live at the Hanafi Muslim headquarters at 7700 16th Street NW and that Aziz has operated a Georgetown jewelry store for the past six years.
But Barcella argued that despite Aziz's community ties, Aziz -- who Barcella said earns about $20,000 a year --"is facing serious charges and has demonstrated that he has the means to leave the country." Aziz's recent trip to Saudi Arabia cost $1400 for airfare alone, Barcella said.
Barcella said that FBI agents have reported that several members of the Hanafi Muslim faith in recent weeks "have contacted persons for funds." Barcella said the government does not know what the requested money would be used for.
In addition, Barcella said that records indicate that members of the Hanafis have purchased from 40 to 50 weapons in recent years and that those weapons are still unaccounted for.
Kennedy said the $75,000 bond could be satisfied in one of three ways: either Aziz could post a $75,000 cash bond or he could post 10 per cent in cash and the rest in collateral, or he could post 10 per cent of the bond amount and secure an appearance at a bail agency.
At the close of yesterday's hearing, Mrs. Khaalis shouted something in Arabic, which she later translated for newsmen as meaning. "Allah is the greatest and we fight to the death."