Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad made more than $60,000 by selling forged U.S. identification documents during the 14 months he lived on the Caribbean island of Antigua, according to a report released yesterday by the Antiguan government.
The report says that Muhammad is believed to have sold at least 20 sets of bogus U.S. driver's licenses and birth certificates, mostly to Jamaican immigrants in Antigua who were eager to come to the United States, and that he charged about $3,000 per set. Some of the fake documents were purchased by two or three Antiguans and one person of Middle Eastern descent, according to John Fuller, the chairman of the government-appointed commission that prepared the report and issued the findings to the attorney general of Antigua and Barbuda.
Muhammad, who lived on Antigua from about April 2000 to June 2001, apparently acted as a "shepherd" to his clients, flying with many of them to their U.S. points of entry, mostly Puerto Rico and in at least one instance Miami, the report and Fuller said.
The commission said that although an unknown source in the United States sent Muhammad a small amount of money by Western Union while he lived in Antigua, he still "needed money to survive and he turned to forgery. He found a fertile market in selling forged U.S. travel documents."
The report concludes: "His outgoing friendly nature and his attractive physical attributes all lent to his being trusted and liked. He also seems to have a good working knowledge of psychology and used it to prey on anyone from whom he needed an advantage."
The 12-page report, based on a two-month investigation by the four-member commission, contains no dramatic revelations about Muhammad's time on the island of 78,000 people. But the report does provide further details -- some more substantiated than others -- about his activities in Antigua and his relationship there with his teenage companion, John Lee Malvo, and Malvo's mother, Una James.
The report says that James did not pay Muhammad for the forged documents she used to enter the United States in late 2000 or early 2001. It says that Muhammad visited James in Fort Myers, Fla., in mid-2001 and that "it is suggested [Muhammad] held on to Malvo as security" for the money she owed him. Fuller would say only that the information was made available to the commission by a "third-party witness."
The report, compiled after interviews with about 45 people, also says that Muhammad was interested in other illicit activities while residing in Antigua, including the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, and it alleges that he had links to at least one drug trafficker.
The commission said that its investigators determined that at one point during his stay in Antigua, Muhammad visited a convicted counterfeiter of U.S. money, Livingston Morgan, who was in prison. The panel said it also received information that Muhammad and Norman Manroe, a Jamaican national, had an "interest in counterfeit U.S. currency" while on the island.
Manroe was arrested in Connecticut in November on a charge of making a false statement to obtain a U.S. passport. The commission said Manroe earlier was sentenced in Antigua for drug trafficking.
The report also raises the question of whether Muhammad might have been involved in the unsolved September 2000 murder of Deon Wylie on the island. Fuller said that issue should be explored further. The report describes Wylie as an associate of Manroe and says the two had met in prison.
"Manroe's close association with Muhammad and Manroe's known propensity for drug trafficking and his involvement with Deon Wylie raised greater concern about Muhammad's activities in Antigua," the report says. "Wylie had spent much of the day before he was murdered with Manroe."
Muhammad, 42, and Malvo, 17, have been named as suspects in 21 shootings in the United States, including the 13 sniper attacks in the Washington area that killed 10 people and wounded three from Oct. 2 to Oct. 22.
Fuller noted that it took Muhammad little more than three months to fraudulently obtain an Antiguan passport for himself once he arrived on the island. The report concludes that Muhammad was able to get a total of four passports through illegal means -- three of them for other people -- partly because of the carelessness of Antiguan passport office staff.
The report also states that after James left Antigua, she sent some money to Malvo through Muhammad. Fuller said that one witness in Antigua told investigators that Malvo would go to the home of Charles and Euphernia Douglas in the Antiguan capital of St. John's -- a house where Muhammad stayed for a while -- to collect the cash. However, as far as investigators can tell, the money was there only once, in the amount of about $150, Fuller said.
The report indicates that Muhammad could be shrewd in carrying out his alleged criminal activities. The commission said it was told by one witness that Muhammad would arrange for those who bought forged U.S. documents from him to fly to the United States on the return half of a ticket to make the travel less suspicious.
The report says the commission found no evidence of any links between Muhammad and terrorist activity. It says, however, that on two occasions in October 2000, Muhammad and another person were seen by a security officer near Antigua Prime Minister Lester B. Bird's home in the early morning. The commission had said previously that a source reported that Muhammad had talked about kidnapping Bird and holding him for ransom.
Metro researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.