Virginia man charged in alleged plot to assassinate Bush

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  1. Trinity

    Trinity VIP Member

    Jun 16, 2004
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    Virginia man charged in alleged plot to assassinate Bush

    Wed Feb 23, 9:41 AM ET Top Stories -

    By Toni Locy, USA TODAY

    A former Virginia high school valedictorian who was held without charges in Saudi Arabia for 20 months was accused Tuesday of conspiring with al-Qaeda to assassinate President Bush (news - web sites).

    Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, formerly of Falls Church, Va., was brought back to the USA late Monday by the FBI (news - web sites) to face a six-count indictment that accuses him of aspiring to be al-Qaeda's next Mohamed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, or Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

    The indictment says Abu Ali, a U.S. citizen born in Houston, and an unnamed al-Qaeda operative discussed two ways to kill Bush: Abu Ali would get close enough to shoot the president, or he would detonate a car bomb.

    He was not charged with taking steps to carry out an assassination. He was charged with providing "material support" to al-Qaeda, knowing it would be used "in preparation for" killing Bush. The White House declined to comment.

    Muslims have closely watched Abu Ali's detention because he alleges that he was tortured in Saudi Arabia into confessing ties to al-Qaeda.

    The grand jury said Abu Ali lived with al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and received training in weapons, explosives and forgery. He also allegedly received cash to buy a computer and cell phone.

    He is being held without bond until a detention hearing Thursday. If convicted, he faces up to 80 years in prison.

    He was arrested while taking an exam at the Islamic University of Medina on June 9, 2003, less than a month after Saudi officials arrested several people in connection with an attack on a housing complex in Riyadh that killed about 35 people, including nine Americans.

    A week later, FBI agents searched Abu Ali's Virginia home, finding a document on surveillance and a book by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s top deputy.

    The search was later linked to a separate criminal case against 11 men, including three who were arrested in Saudi Arabia about the same time as Abu Ali. They allegedly used paintball games in Virginia and obtained paramilitary training in Pakistan to prepare to fight for Muslims in Kashmir (news - web sites).

    Defense attorney Ashraf Nubani said he argued in court Tuesday that Abu Ali was tortured in Saudi Arabia and offered to show a federal magistrate his client's scars. The magistrate declined the offer.

    Nubani said Abu Ali will plead innocent. He said the prosecution's evidence is tainted because Saudi officials tortured Abu Ali and others.

    Less than two weeks ago, Justice Department (news - web sites) lawyers asked a federal judge here to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed last year by Abu Ali's parents.

    The lawsuit alleged that U.S. officials asked Saudi Arabia to detain and question Abu Ali to avoid scrutiny by American courts.

    "There's no question that the prospect of a court ordering the U.S. government to disclose its relationship with Saudi Arabia over a 20-month incommunicado detention of an American citizen pushed this (indictment) along," said David Cole a Georgetown University law professor who represents Abu Ali's parents.

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