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FBI investigates links between suspected terrorist, al-Qaida

Saturday, March 22, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The FBI worked Friday to establish links between a Saudi-born man, suspected of being part of the al-Qaida terror network, and other terror suspects including alleged "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla.

Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 27, lived in South Florida at the same time as Padilla, an American being held in a military brig on charges of being an "enemy combatant." Padilla, a former member of a Chicago street gang and a Muslim convert, is suspected of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" that would have spewed radiological material into the air.

Senior federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday the names of both Padilla and El Shukrijumah -- or perhaps one of his half-dozen aliases -- surfaced in the intelligence collected after the March 1 capture of senior al-Qaida organizer Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Leads from suspect

Mohammed, a member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle, is being interrogated at an undisclosed location overseas.

It was unclear whether El Shukrijumah and Padilla knew each other in Florida or were involved together in the alleged "dirty bomb" plot. FBI officials said they believe El Shukrijumah is an al-Qaida member meant to out attacks, rather than a senior planner or financier.

El Shukrijumah's father, Gulshair Muhammad El Shukrijumah, 73, said Friday from his home in Miramar, Fla., that his son was not a terrorist and did not know Padilla. The elder El Shukrijumah said the FBI has visited him six or seven times since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and interviewed him Thursday for more than an hour.

The son left home two years ago, according to the father, a Muslim missionary who is spiritual leader in a Miramar mosque.

When they last talked five months ago, the son was teaching English in Morocco, El Shukrijumah said. The younger El Shukrijumah disliked the American lifestyle and was offended by women wearing skimpy clothes, but his father insisted that would not translate into his harming Americans.

"He does not hate anyone," the father said. "I always trained my children to hate evil and not evildoers."

The FBI is also is investigating El Shukrijumah's friendship with Imran Mandhai, one of two Florida college students convicted of conspiring to bomb electrical stations, a National Guard armory, Jewish businesses and Mount Rushmore. The elder El Shukrijumah said they knew each other but were never close.

A Florida law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators also were looking into a connection between El Shukrijumah and Richard Reid, convicted in February of attempting to light explosives in his shoes aboard a Paris-to-Miami flight.

El Shukrijumah's six known aliases have circulated for months among counterterrorism officials, even appearing on a previous FBI alert about an individual the bureau now believes may not exist or may be a composite. That alert, for Pakistani named Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan, included variations on the name Jaffar Al-Tayyar that are identical to those the FBI says are used by El Shukrijumah.

In yet another wrinkle, that alias translates roughly from Arabic to English as "Jaffar the pilot," according to Language Analysis Systems, a Herndon, Va., company that specializes in name recognition software for government and businesses. FBI officials said they believed El Shukrijumah had trained as a pilot, but his father denied that.

So far, no links have been established between El Shukrijumah and any of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers, 13 of whom attended flight schools in Florida. In addition, officials at Airman Flight School in Norman, Okla., where terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui trained, said they found no matches for any of El Shukrijumah's names in their student database.

El Shukrijumah is described as about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 132 pounds, although he may be heavier. He has black hair, black eyes and a Mediterranean complexion and may wear a beard.

Although born in Saudi Arabia, El Shukrijumah carries a passport from Guyana, the FBI said. He also could have passports from Saudi Arabia, Canada or Trinidad.

Aliases include Adnan G. El Shukri Jumah, Abu Arif, Ja'far Al-Tayer, Jaffar Al-Tayyar, Jafar Tayar and Jaafar Al-Tayyar.

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On the Net

  • FBI: www.fbi.gov


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