Rafiq Abdus Sabir, a Boca Raton physician was arrested on federal terrorism charges, and that he conspired to treat and train terrorists, federal prosecutors announced Sunday. Also arrested was Tarik Shah, a self-described martial arts expert in New York.
both charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaida, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
Both men are American citizens.
Prosecutors said Sabir agreed to treat jihadists, or holy warriors, in Saudi Arabia. Shah agreed to train them in hand-to-hand combat.
The one-count complaint details a sting operation from 2003 to 2005 in which the two men took an oath pledging their allegiance to al-Qaida.
Spokesmen from the FBI declines to comment.
FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela also declined to comment. Spokesmen from the Department of Homeland Security could not be reached for comment, despite an attempt by phone.
The charge Sabir faces is from a 1996 law making it a crime for anyone in the United States to knowingly aid terrorist organizations. That includes providing money, lodging, training, false documentation or identification, weapons, equipment and transportation, according to the Department of Justice Web site.
Providing medical assistance or religious material is not a crime, according to the Justice Department.
However, Sabir’s co-workers seem to have only good things to say about him. One can only know what goes on behind the scenes.
Dr. Daniel McBride, spokesman for the Islamic Center of Boca Raton and a friend of Sabir, said Sabir works in the emergency rooms of two hospitals in Palm Beach County.
“That’s absurd,” McBride said of the charge against Sabir. “He is a quality guy and a quality physician. He’s all about helping others. That’s why he became a doctor.
“It would shock me beyond belief if [the allegation] was true.”
According to the AP via Washington Post, the two year FBI sting operation engaged in multiple recorded conversations with FBI agent posing as an al-Qaida operatives.
The one-count complaint details a two-year sting operation in which the men allegedly took an oath pledging their allegiance to al-Qaida. The government said the men engaged in multiple recorded conversations with a confidential source and an FBI agent posing as an al-Qaida operative.
As recently as May 20, during a meeting at a Bronx apartment, Sabir indicated he would travel shortly to Saudi Arabia to treat the wounds of jihadists at a Saudi military base, prosecutors said. Travel records showed he was scheduled to leave Thursday.
During recorded conversations, Shah repeatedly indicated his desire to train Muslim “brothers” in the martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, the release said.
Shah took steps to find secret locations for jihad weapons training, at one point inspecting a Long Island warehouse, and described previous efforts to recruit others, prosecutors said.
Shah allegedly agreed to provide a training syllabus for hand-to-hand combat and a videotape so associates in the Middle East could evaluate his usefulness to the cause. He also described how he and Sabir tried to get to training camps in 1998 in Afghanistan, the release said.
More can be found at CNN
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.
Hat Tip: PoliPundit