Federal authorities yesterday charged a Baltimore County resident with conspiring to support a terrorist organization, alleging that he said during a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI that he had attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
Mahmud Faruq Brent, a U.S. citizen who once worked as a paramedic in Silver Spring, is accused of supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamic group that the U.S. government has designated a terrorist organization. Brent was arrested in Newark yesterday morning and appeared later in federal court in Manhattan.
A criminal complaint filed there says the FBI listened in during a conversation between Brent, who also uses the name Mahmud Al Mutazzim, and Tarik Shah of New York, a jazz musician and self-described martial arts expert. Shah was arrested in May and has pleaded not guilty to charges that he provided material support to al Qaeda.
The complaint against Brent alleges that Shah told authorities after his arrest that he had trained Brent in martial arts and that Brent was committed to jihad. The complaint says Shah agreed to arrange a meeting with Brent at a hotel near Columbia. The FBI monitored that meeting using video and audio surveillance, the complaint says.
According to the complaint, Brent said during the meeting that he had traveled to Pakistan and trained with mujaheddin. Brent called the decision to go to the camps "one of the better decisions in my life" and urged Shah to seek similar training, the complaint says.
Brent spoke of the difficulties he encountered in reaching the camps and said Shah's decision would come down to a question of "how much" he was willing to "sacrifice" and whether he was willing to "take a risk," the complaint says. Brent said that he was moved by videotapes of Muslims "suffering" and that the tapes "kind of like pushed me over the, over the edge," it says.
An attorney for Brent did not return phone calls late yesterday seeking comment. Attempts to reach his family members at phone numbers listed in the complaint and elsewhere were unsuccessful.
The complaint also links Brent to Seifullah Chapman, a member of the "Virginia jihad network" who has been sentenced to 65 years in prison for conspiring to support Lashkar-e-Taiba and other offenses. Chapman was charged with taking part in paramilitary training, including playing paintball in the Virginia countryside, to prepare for holy war abroad. The complaint says Chapman wrote a letter in support of an application for an expedited passport that Brent filed in 2000.
The complaint says that Lashkar-e-Taiba translates roughly as "Army of the Pure" and that the group claims to have trained thousands of militants to fight in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Kosovo and elsewhere. The United States designated it a foreign terrorist organization in 2001 after the Indian government blamed it for an attack on parliament that killed 12.