UPDATE: Man arrested in Augusta on terrorism charges
AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -
Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength says his deputies assisted FBI agents with the arrest of a terrorist suspect at a bus station in Augusta.
United States Attorney Kenyen R. Brown of the Southern District of Alabama and Stephen E. Richardson, Special Agent in Charge of the Mobile Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, 25, and Randy Wilson, also known as Rasheed Wilson, 25, both U.S. citizens living in Mobile, were arrested today on terrorism charges filed in the Southern District of Alabama.
A criminal complaint signed on December 10 charges Abukhdair and Wilson with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, knowing or intending that it be used in preparation for, or in carrying out, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 956 (conspiracy to kill persons or damage property outside the United States) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339A. The complaint also charges Abukhdair with passport fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1542. According to the complaint, the charges stem from Wilson and Abukhdair's conspiracy to travel from the United States to Mauritania intending to prepare to wage violent jihad.
Abukhdair and Wilson were the subjects of an investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Mobile Division of the FBI. Wilson was arrested this morning in Atlanta attempting to board a flight that would ultimately take him to Morocco. Abukhdair was arrested in Augusta, Georgia at a bus terminal. According to the complaint, Abukhdair was scheduled to fly to Morocco from outside the United States on December 13.
The complaint alleges that Wilson and Abukhdair met online in 2010. On August 27, 2011, an FBI undercover employee met Wilson, and Wilson told the FBI employee that he and Abukhdair had formulated a plan to travel together overseas for the purpose of waging violent jihad prior to Wilson meeting the FBI employee, according to the complaint. In preparation for their travel, Abukhdair applied for a new passport and falsely claimed that his previous passport had been misplaced, according to the complaint. In fact, the complaint alleges, Abukhdair was concerned that Egyptian stamps in his passport might raise suspicions and impede his travel plans.
The complaint further alleges that in July of 2012, Wilson and Abukhdair also began meeting with a confidential source working for the FBI, and that Wilson and Abukhdair brought the source into their plans to travel overseas to wage violent jihad. According to the complaint, Abukhdair and Wilson planned to travel to Casablanca, Morocco, and from there to Mauritania, where they expected to be in a position to wage violent jihad in a nearby country or conflict.
U.S. Attorney Brown stated, "The top priority of the Department of Justice nationally, and the U.S. Attorney's Office locally, is to deter, disrupt, and prevent acts of terrorism. We will continue to defend our nation against anyone who seeks to harm us by investigating and prosecuting national and international terrorist plots. The law enforcement actions of today should send a clear warning to those who would consider engaging in violent jihad, either at home or abroad, that their future is bleak: they may end up in a US prison cell or a casualty on a foreign battlefield. This case should also generally serve as a reminder to all Americans to remain vigilant against terror threats. Thanks to the excellent work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, any threat posed by these individuals has been prevented."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richardson stated: "The efforts of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in this investigation represent our unwavering commitment to protect the United States against terrorist attacks domestically and abroad. Our resolve to protect our family, friends, neighbors and community ensures that we work diligently using every resource available to identify, disrupt, and dismantle extremists who desire to do us harm."
The Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Mobile division of the FBI conducted the investigation and presented the case for prosecution to the United States Attorney's Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Bodnar and Sean P. Costello and Trial Attorneys Clement McGovern and Annamartine Salick of the Department of Justice's Counterterrorism Section are handling the prosecution of the case on behalf of the United States.
A complaint is a determination by a United States Magistrate Judge that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until and unless he or she is proven guilty at trial.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Alabama at http://www.justice.gov/usao/als/
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