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Two arrested on al Qaeda-related charges

Pair accused of conspiring to provide material support

Rafiq Sabir was arrested Saturday morning near Boca Raton, Florida.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Two U.S. citizens have been arrested on federal charges of conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda, federal authorities announced Sunday.

Such material support usually means donating money or other other resources.

The one-count complaint was filed Friday in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan against Tarik Ibn Osman Shah, aka Tarik Jenkins or Abu Musab; and a Florida doctor, Rafiq Sabir, aka The Doctor, according to a joint statement by federal prosecutors and the FBI.

Both men were recorded "allegedly pledging their support and loyalty to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden," the statement said.

Their alleged conspiracy "to provide material support to al Qaeda" dates from 2003 to May 2005, according to the complaint.

FBI agents arrested Shah in the New York area over the weekend. He is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate Tuesday in Manhattan.

An FBI spokeswoman said agents arrested the 50-year-old Sabir Saturday morning near Boca Raton, Florida, where he lives. He also is to appear before a magistrate Tuesday in Fort Pierce, Florida.

The case originated and is being handled in the Southern District of New York and led to Sabir in Florida, said FBI spokesman Matt Bertrand.

"Shah and Sabir engaged in multiple meetings and conversations with a confidential source as well as an FBI special agent, who was acting in an undercover capacity and posing as an al Qaeda operative and recruiter," the statement said.

During one meeting with the undercover agent, Shah allegedly showed "how he had fashioned his prayer beads into a weapon which could be used to strangle a person," according to the statement.

During the meetings Shah and Sabir "allegedly agreed to provide training in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat to al Qaeda members and associates, while Sabir allegedly agreed to provide medical assistance to wounded jihadists in Saudi Arabia," the statement said.

"Ultimately, in order to express their utmost loyalty to al Qaeda, Shah and Sabir allegedly pledged an oath (referred to as bayat) to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, thereby leaving them with the impression that they had become members of the organization," the statement said.

The complaint says Shah also discussed his desire to recruit fighters, seeking out inconspicuous places for training and weapons-making.

He even went so far as to inspect a warehouse on Long Island "to determine its suitability as a training facility," the complaint says.

Prosecutors and the FBI said Shah described his efforts, including a recruiting trip to Phoenix, Arizona, and of his attempt to train in camps in Afghanistan during the late 1990s.

Shah also had names and telephone numbers of people who had attended training camps in the Middle East, "including Seifullah Champan, a member of the Virginia Jihad Network," the complaint says.

It identifies Champan as a terrorist convicted of providing material support to a Pakistan-based terrorist group in March 2004 and who is serving an 85-year prison sentence.

The complaint alleges Shah and Sabir met with the undercover agent in an apartment in the Bronx, New York, as recently as May 20.

According to the charges, Sabir said he would be traveling to Saudi Arabia, where he had a job as a doctor at a Saudi military base.

Using his credentials, Sabir allegedly said, he could travel the country and treat wounded jihadists in Saudi Arabia.

The statement pointed to records that show Sabir was planning to leave this Thursday for Saudi Arabia.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the crime.

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