European Extradited To Face Charges Of Plotting To Set Up Terrorism Camp In Oregon

Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A European terrorism suspect accused of planning to teach followers how to make bombs, poison people and slit throats yelled at a judge while proclaiming his innocence during an arraignment Tuesday in federal court.

``This is all unjust and unfair,'' railed Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swede.

In announcing the suspect's extradition to New York from the Czech Republic, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said Kassir also offered bomb and poison-making tips on several Web sites. One of the Web sites was located on an Internet server in suburban White Plains, the prosecutor said.

Kassir pleaded not guilty Tuesday to counts that include conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure people in a foreign country; providing material support to terrorists; and distributing information related to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

When asked during the arraignment through an interpreter to raise his right hand, Kassir replied in English, ``Why would I swear? I swear by God that everything is true. I told you I swear by Allah. Why should I raise my hand?'' The court accepted Kassir's refusal to raise his right hand.

Kassir also was asked whether he understood the charges against him. With his hands cuffed in front of him, he responded, ``I don't care to see it because I am innocent. I don't care about it. I didn't do anything. I have done nothing.''

He said he was traveling to visit his mother when he was ``kidnapped'' and brought to America.

``They want to force charges of terrorism against me,'' he continued. ``I have nothing to do with al-Qaida. I have no relationship with al-Qaida. This is all unjust and unfair.''

Prosecutors say Kassir and others wanted to set up the camp in Bly, Ore., to teach military-style methods so a community of Muslims could move to Afghanistan to fight or receive further training there. The camp was never realized.

Kassir also discussed hijacking trucks and killing the drivers to raise money to support the camp, Garcia said.

``The purpose of the camp was to identify and further radicalize individuals that would be willing to carry out attacks against the United States at home or abroad,'' said Richard Falkenrath, deputy commissioner for counterterrorism at the New York Police Department.

Kassir is accused of operating at least three Web sites that sought to recruit terrorists from December 2001 until his arrest Dec. 11, 2005, at Prague's Ruzyne international airport while flying from Stockholm, Sweden, to Beirut, Lebanon.

Authorities said the sites included such titles as ``The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook'' and ``The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook.''

An indictment says Kassir told witnesses that he supported Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and that he had personally undertaken jihad training in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Lebanon.

In November 1999, prosecutors said, Kassir and Haroon Rashid Aswat were sent by Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to establish the training camp. After two months they left the U.S., with Kassir complaining that there were too few men and he was not going to waste his time.

Authorities in Oregon have said the camp never materialized beyond a dozen people taking target practice and was abandoned for unknown reasons. Bly is an unincorporated town of a few hundred residents, 230 miles southeast of Portland.

Al-Masri was indicted in 2004 on charges of trying to establish the training camp and providing aid to al-Qaida. He was arrested in England on a U.S. extradition warrant but has since been sentenced to seven years in jail there for inciting followers to kill non-Muslims.

Also charged in the terror-camp case is Haroon Rashid Aswat, who is awaiting extradition in England.

James Ujaama, a Muslim convert from Seattle, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in the case last month. In 2003 he had pleaded guilty to lesser charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, but he later fled the country.

Kassir was born in Lebanon and moved to Sweden in 1984. He became a citizen five years later. He spent several months in prison in 1998 for assaulting a police officer and drug possession. A Swedish court jailed him for 10 months two years ago for illegal weapons possession.