Amer­i­can Mus­lim fugi­tive with al Qaeda ties ar­rested in Belize

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

Po­lice in Belize on Dec. 19 ar­rested an Amer­i­can Mus­lim with ties to al Qaeda who pleaded guilty in 2003 to con­spir­ing to pro­vide cash, com­put­ers and fight­ers to the Tal­iban, but fled af­ter agree­ing to co­op­er­ate in on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Au­thor­i­ties said James Ujaama, who was wanted for pa­role vi­o­la­tion, en­tered Belize, a small coun­try on the east­ern coast of Cen­tral Amer­ica, 10 days ago us­ing a phony Mex­i­can pass­port.

“The po­lice con­ducted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and some time around mid­night last night or ear­lier this morn­ing, this fugi­tive was ap­pre- hended here in Belize City,” said act­ing Po­lice Chief Ed­uardo Wade, adding that one Belizean po­lice in­spec­tor was treated and later re­leased for in­juries he re­ceived when Ujaama “at­tempted to es­cape dur­ing his ap­pre­hen­sion.”

Ujaama,whoservedt­woyearsin a plea agree­ment on charges of deal­ing with al Qaeda and pro­vid­ing var­i­ous types of ma­te­rial sup­port to the Tal­iban, has since been turned over to U.S. au­thor­i­ties, said Leonard Hill, deputy chief of mis­sion at the U.S. Em­bassy.

Mr. Hill said Ujaama’s im­me­di­ate crime was a pa­role vi­o­la­tion, but he could face ad­di­tional charges and also is be­ing held as a ma­te­rial wit­ness in other ter­ror-re­lated cases.

“One in­di­ca­tion of his sta­tus may be that fed­eral of­fi­cials sent down a private plane to bring him back to the States,” Mr. Hill said.

Ujaama, also known as Ernest James Thompson, was first ar­rested in Den­ver in July 2002 as a ma­te­rial wit­ness and later named in a fed­eral grand jury in­dict­ment of pro­vid­ing re­sources to al Qaeda. The in­dict­ment said he was at­tempt­ing to cre­ate a camp for train­ing ter­ror­ists near Bly, Ore., be­tween Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber of 1999.

In April 2003, the gov­ern­ment filed a su­per­sed­ing com­plaint say­ing Ujaama took money, com­puter equip­ment and women to Tal­iban of­fi­cials in Afghanistan. In Fe­bru­ary 2004, he agreed to co­op­er­ate with U.S. prose­cu­tors — es­pe­cially for what he knew about rad­i­cal Lon­don cleric Abu Hamza alMasri, who has since been con­victed in Bri­tain of in­cit­ing mur­der and racial ha­tred.

Al-Masri, the one-eyed for­mer head of the Fins­bury Park mosque in north Lon­don, preached ha­tred to hun­dreds of young Mus­lims, in­clud­ing Zacarias Mous­saoui, the only per­son charged in the U.S. in con­nec­tion with the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks.

Ujaama, a for­mer com­mu­nity ac­tivist in Seat­tle, con­verted to Is­lam in the post-civil rights era. While trav­el­ing in Eng­land in 1999, he pur­port­edly met with al-Masri and then trav­eled to Afghanistan to study Shariah, ac­cord­ing to fam­ily friends. Shariah refers to the le­gal frame­work­with­in­which­pub­li­cand some private as­pects of life are reg­u­lated for those liv­ing in a le­gal sys­tem based on Mus­lim prin­ci­ples of ju­rispru­dence.

As part of the plea agree­ment, which lim­ited his prison terms to just two years, he ad­mit­ted de­liv­er­ing cur­rency and other items to per­sons in the ter­ri­tory of Afghanistan con­trolled by the Tal­iban, and that with the as­sis­tance of the Tal­iban, he en­tered the coun­try to in­stall soft­ware pro­grams he had brought with him on com­put­ers be­long­ing to Tal­iban of­fi­cials.

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