London-based Algerian charged in Y2K bomb plot
By Phil Hirschkorn
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors in the United States have charged an Algerian man identified in a just-completed trial and in court documents as a terrorist cell leader based in London.
British police arrested the man, Haydar Abu Doha, 36, on a U.S. warrant charging him with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction for an alleged role backing the foiled plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport around New Year's 2000.
Attempted millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam -- the claimed lone executor of that plot -- has named Abu Doha as a gatekeeper to Islamic militant training camps in Afghanistan, where Ressam testified he underwent months of firearms and explosives training in 1998.
Ressam spoke of Abu Doha during testimony in the trial of an alleged accomplice, Mokhtar Haouari, an Algerian-born Montreal shopkeeper who trafficked in fake passports and identification papers, counterfeit checks and credit cards. A jury last Friday convicted Haouari of fraud and of conspiring with Ressam, but acquitted him of knowingly aiding and abetting the bomb plot.
Evidence showed Haouari gave Ressam about $2,000 and a fake Canadian driver's license in late 1999, weeks before Ressam's ill-fated trip to the United States. Customs agents who stopped Ressam at an entry point near Seattle, Washington, found explosive chemicals and timing devices in the truck of his rented sedan.
Upon his arrest, Ressam had a business card with Abu Doha's phone number in London and calling cards that showed he had called the number as recently as 11 days before his December 14, 1999, arrest.
Abu Doha's London apartment contained papers with notations for the same explosive chemical mixtures found in Ressam's car, according to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Abu Doha's apartment also contained fake passports, passports with recent stamps for Pakistan, and a visa to Pakistan, according to the complaint. Travelers to Afghanistan typically pass through Pakistan.
Ressam identified Abu Doha as a leader of the Algerian group in the training camps who facilitated the travel of recruits like Ressam to the camps and then to countries where their operations were to occur.
Ressam said he asked Abu Doha to obtain travel documents for Abdelghani Meskini -- a conspirator who went to meet Ressam in Seattle -- to go to the Afghanistan camps.
Abu Doha participated in discussions with trainees about U.S. and Israeli targets to be hit by the end of 1999 in the United States and the Middle East, Ressam has told investigators.
Ressam began cooperating with government prosecutors only after his April 6 conviction in a federal jury trial in Los Angeles.
Ressam planned to rendezvous with Abu Doha in London after the millennium bombing, according to the complaint. Ressam had booked a British Airways ticket under the alias he used, "Benni Norris."
Abu Doha, who used the alias "Amar Makhlolif" in England, was first arrested in February, suspected of a connection to a plot to bomb a Strasbourg, France, market. He was released from custody until the U.S. complaint was filed on July 2.
Extradition proceedings began with Abu Doha's appearance in Bow Magistrates Court in London on July 4.
-- CNN's Marga Ortigas in London contributed to this report.
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