Suspected al-Qaida terrorists indicted

By Ben Dobbin The Associated Press
Tuesday October 22, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Six men were indicted Monday on charges of supporting terrorism by training at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden declared that there “is going to be a fight against Americans,” authorities said. 

A federal grand jury handed up a two-count indictment of six Americans of Yemeni descent from the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. An arraignment was scheduled Tuesday. 

Arrested and charged just days after the Sept. 11 anniversary, the men could get up to 15 years in prison if convicted under a 1996 law that prohibits giving money, weapons or other tangible support to foreign groups deemed terrorist organizations by the government. 

Only Sahim Alwan, 29, was granted bond of $600,000 at a hearing two weeks ago. Arrangements for his release were still being worked out. 

Lawyers for the other five — Yahya Goba, 25; Yasein Taher, 25; Faysal Galab, 26; Shafal Mosed, 24; Mukhtar al-Bakri, 22 — filed notice last week that they intend to appeal the denial of bail. 

All of the men have professed their innocence; four of the six deny ever going to Afghanistan or to the training camp. 

Prosecutors maintain the men were awaiting orders from bin Laden’s group to carry out an attack in the United States. But in a statement Monday, U.S. Attorney Michael Battle emphasized that “the investigation has failed to establish any immediate threat to the western New York area.” 

“I was happy that Mr. Battle chose to include that statement,” said William Clauss, a federal public defender representing Goba. “It corroborates what we believe we know, which is that our clients are not dangerous to the community.”