Thursday, November 7, 2002

Ex-mosque leader arrested on gun charges
Third person connected to now-closed mosque to face federal charges

Associated Press

SEATTLE _ A former mosque leader has been arrested on charges that he illegally bought a semiautomatic handgun for a Tacoma man described as having al Qaeda connections.

Abdul Raheem Al Arshad Ali, 31, formerly known as Andre Anderson, was dressed all in black during a brief appearance in U.S. District Court following his arrest Tuesday.

U.S. Magistrate Ricardo Martinez released Ali on a temporary appearance bond pending an interview with U.S. Pretrial Services personnel who may
suggest conditions for detention or continued release pending trial. His next hearing was set for Nov. 22.

Ali is the third man linked to the now-defunct Dar-us-Salaam Mosque in the Central District to face federal charges in recent months.

The other two, Semi Osman of Tacoma and James Ujaama of Seattle, who is accused of being a terrorist conspirator, have been accused of involvement in a plot to set up an al Qaeda terrorist training camp near Bly, Ore.

According to a complaint filed by an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Ali bought a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol at Federal Way Discount Guns in the suburbs between Tacoma and Seattle, for Osman, 32, who is not a U.S. citizen and is barred from possessing a firearm, on Sept. 24, 1999.

If Ali is convicted of lying to the gun dealer about who was actually buying the weapon, he could face as much as five years in prison,

Police found the weapon with the serial number obliterated -- also a federal offense -- in a search of Osman's apartment in Tacoma in May.

According to documents filed in court, Osman told an FBI agent he asked Ali to buy him a gun and handed him about $300 as the two were parked outside the store.

Ali went into the store, returned and gave Osman a box containing the gun, the agent wrote.

At Ali's suggestion, Osman scratched out the serial number to make it harder to trace, but scientists at the ATF laboratory in Walnut Creek, Calif., were able to raise the number, according to the complaint.

Osman pleaded guilty in August to possessing the pistol and faces sentencing Jan. 10.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Hamilton, Osman's defense lawyer, Robert Leen, and Ali's temporary counsel, Thomas Hillier, would not comment on the latest Tuesday.

Osman and Ali apparently were both leaders at the now-closed mosque in Seattle.

According to a document from an unrelated King County Superior Court case, Ali described himself as "Program Director (Imam)" of Dar ul Islam Masjid, believed to be a different name for the Dar-us-Salaam Mosque where James Ujaama sometimes prayed.

Ujaama, 36, formerly of Seattle, has been charged with providing material support to al Qaeda at the direction of Abu Hamza al-Masri, a London cleric who was said to be planning a training camp in Oregon.

Ali, a former Marine and Gulf War veteran with a wife and three children, moved to Seattle in 1992 and has worked as a mall security guard, cab driver and bricklayer.

He said in a recent Seattle Post-Intelligencer interview that he and others from Seattle went to the ranch near Bly but not for terrorism.

"We did nothing that any other group of white boys wouldn't do. We shot targets and rode horses and that's it," Ali said.

"Since we were black and Muslims and young, they figured we were doing something criminal."

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