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We're victims, U.S. brother claims

James Stubbs, right, and Michael are paraded before reporters at navy headquarters in Manila.
James Stubbs, right, and Michael are paraded before reporters at navy headquarters in Manila.

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Two American citizens are being expelled on immigration charges, but authorities suspect they may have links to al Qaeda. CNN's Judith Torres reports (December 30)
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MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- One of two Americans arrested in the Philippines and accused of having ties to al Qaeda has said he and his brother are innocent of the allegations and instead are the victims of an overzealous war on terror.

James Stubbs Jr., 56 -- also known by his Muslim name of Jamil Mujahid -- and Michael Ray Stubbs, 55, were arrested on December 13 in Tanza, south of Manila, in a joint operation by the Philippine Navy, Philippine Marine Corps and the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation.

Speaking by phone in an undisclosed jail facility, Mujahid told CNN Tuesday he does not have the "slightest idea" when he might be deported to the United States.

He said he had been in the Philippines for about nine months when about 12 to 20 armed men surrounded the home where he was staying about three weeks ago.

"They came in and they put guns to my head, and to my wife and my son's. And they handcuffed me and blindfolded me and took me to an undisclosed place," he told CNN in the exclusive interview.

He said the authorities believed he was either Jordanian or Yemeni. "That's what they told me," Mujahid said. "They didn't dream I was an American."

Mujahid denied he was a terrorist and said he was arrested because of political motivations, financial extortion and religious persecution.

He accused the Philippines of rounding up people like himself to make it look like the nation is fighting terrorism in order to get more money from the United States.

"I guess the war on terrorism has created a vacuum all around the world, where now in order for third world countries to get money to combat so-called terrorism this is what they're doing," he said.

He did say he talked to a "few Muslims" in the Philippines, including one in jail who asked him to get "some chairs, a table, some pencils and pens and a blackboard so he could teach while in jail."

Earlier in the day, U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Mujahid and his brother would be returned to the United States, but had no details as to when that would happen or what they might face once back home.

"The two Americans in the Philippines will be returning to the United States," Ereli said. "As far as their situation here, I'd refer you to U.S. law enforcement authorities."

Patty Hanson, an FBI spokeswoman in San Francisco, said there were no charges in the United States against the two brothers and that the FBI "is not charging them."

Mujahid and his brother are charged with violating the Philippine immigration act.

In classifying the men as "undesirable aliens," the Philippine Bureau of Immigration cited intelligence reports that the brothers were "seen meeting with known leaders of various terrorist cells in the country with links to the al Qaeda."

Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ernesto De Leon said intelligence gathered indicated that "Mujahid and Stubbs were suspected of having been involved in the elaborate financial network of the al Qaeda terrorist networks and its counterpart in the country, notably the Abu Sayyaf group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front."

He said they are alleged to have met with leaders of charity organizations used as fronts for al Qaeda.

Mujahid, a former teacher, had lived in the country since February and had married a Filipino woman. Mujahid said he had been in Sudan to study Arabic before going to the Philippines.

Filipino authorities described the younger Stubbs as a recently retired air-conditioning technician who had worked for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Livermore, operated by the University of California, is one of the major labs in the United States dealing with nuclear weapons development and also does sensitive work in biomedicine, energy and environmental science.

Susan Houghton, a spokeswoman for the lab, confirmed Michael Ray Stubbs worked there from 1990 to 2000 as an HVAC technician. While employed there, he had "Q-level" clearance -- what Houghton described as "one of the highest" levels.

She added that as a technician, "he had access to the buildings, but not necessarily any information."

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