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Former U.S. Army sergeant charged as part of terrorist ring


Ali Mohamed described as 'mid-level player' in bin Laden network

October 30, 1998
Web posted at: 7:45 p.m. EST (0045 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A former U.S. Army sergeant described as a "mid-level player" in the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden has been arrested on sealed criminal charges, CNN has confirmed.

Ali A. Mohamed, 46, a native of Egypt who came to the United States in 1985 and served in the Army from 1986 to 1989, is being held in New York. Details of the charges he faces have not been disclosed.

Citing a law enforcement source, the Associated Press reported that Mohamed was arrested six weeks ago and was being held at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Federal law enforcement officials believe bin Laden was the mastermind behind a terrorist network responsible for the deadly August bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Four other alleged bin Laden associates have been charged in the east African attacks.

Source: Suspect approached CIA in early 1980s

CNN's Allan Dodds Frank tells us where the onetime soldier fits in the wide-ranging investigation
Windows Media 28K 56K

CNN has learned that before emigrating to the United States, Mohamed was a fighter in the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, an effort in which the CIA was heavily involved.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN that in the early 1980s, Mohamed contacted the CIA "seeking to establish a relationship."

"The CIA was in contact with him for less than a month, before the contact was severed after determining he was unreliable," the official said.

The official said there is "no evidence" that the CIA helped Mohamed gain entry to the United States in 1985.

Mohamed was honorably discharged from the Army after serving as a supply sergeant and clerk in the headquarters of the Army's 1st Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He was not a Special Forces soldier, and the Army has no record that he received any specialized Special Forces training related to the use of explosives or advanced weapons. However, his service records show he did receive paratrooper training.

Fluent in Arabic, he also served as an assistant staff instructor, helping instructors prepare classes related to the Middle East's political environment, history, culture and military capabilities. He appears on an Army videotape discussing events in Afghanistan.

After leaving the military, Mohamed lived in Santa Clara, California, working in the computer industry, said his former landlady, Dorothy Miller. She described Mohamed as "very polite."

Correspondents Pierre Thomas and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

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