Accused Alabama terrorist – connecting the dots on the Gulf Coast
“Their conduct is assuredly not protected by the First Amendment.”
— Prosecutor Christopher Bodnar.
Accused Alabama terrorist claims free speech; government releases new details of recordings
By Brendan Kirby, March 22, 2013
MOBILE, Alabama – To the defense, the terrorism charges against Randy “Rasheed” Wilson are an amorphous amalgam of vague allegations about conduct that never amounted to more than speech.
In asking a judge to throw out the charges, defense attorney Dom Soto asked if it is possible to “conspire to conspire.”
Federal prosecutors, in a written response this week, argued that the intent of Wilson and co-defendant Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukdair to maim and kill in the name of Islam was very real and that they took concrete steps to make it happen. The court filing includes new details of recordings made by an informant working with the FBI.
“Wilson and Abukhdair face serous terrorism charges not because they espoused their religious beliefs or their disdain for this country,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Bodnar wrote. “Rather, they are charged with forming an agreement to engage in criminal activity. Their conduct is assuredly not protected by the First Amendment.”
The issue now is in the hands of U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose, who must decide whether charges will stand against Wilson, a Mobile man who lived for a time in Birmingham and attended an Islamic school there.
Plan for violent jihad alleged
Federal agents arrested Wilson in December as he was about to board a plane in Atlanta bound for Morocco. Authorities alleged that he planned to travel from there to the African nation of Mauritania and meet up with Abukdair, who had moved to Mobile from Egypt after the two struck up a friendship online in 2010.
From Mauritania, according to authorities, the defendants planned to find a place – perhaps in neighboring Mali– to wage violent jihad.
Soto acknowledged that that Wilson made plenty of negative comments about the United States in the hours on conversations that the FBI recorded. But he argued that even objectionable speech is protected by the First Amendment. He cited a World War II-era decision prohibiting the government from revoking the citizenship of German immigrant Carl Wilhelm Baumgartner, who had espoused pro-Nazi views.
The case became a bit confusing when the FBI advised an affidavit it had submitted, claiming Wilson was a former roommate of Daphne-born jihadist Omar Shafik Hammami, was incorrect. The connection between the two forms the basis of the criminal complaint against Wilson, but even Wilson’s defense attorney admitted that the two did know each other. Daphne, AL is about 20 minutes away from Mobile, AL were Wilson grew up. Both locations are along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
When asked about where there are Muslim communities in the U.S., most people would point to major cities in the northeast, Northern Virginia, and areas in Illinois and Michigan. To the average American, the deep south brings up visions of staunch Baptists and families that have established American roots for many generations. Very few would associate it with Muslim immigrants, let alone Islamist radicals and terror related activity.
The Gulf Coast states are home to a number of influential Muslim communities. Many of the mosque’s and Islamic based schools are funded and controlled by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). Here are several examples related to radical Islamic activity:
- Holy Land Foundation, Richardson, TX
- Al-Shabaab terror group, Houston, TX
- Dr. Ahmed Elkadi, U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, Panama City, FL
- Mohammad Yunus, Islamic Circle North America (ICNA), Bonifay, FL
- Sami Al-Arian, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Tampa, FL
- Iman Elkadi, Mercy USA, Tampa, FL
During the late 1970s/early 1980s, a number of young Muslim professionals (doctors, engineers, educators) moved to these southern locations, identified as areas that would welcome Muslims and provide an environment favorable for dawah. Most of these professionals were/are affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood groups such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA). As they became established, the local populations viewed these professionals and their families as outstanding members of the community, and usually above reproach. This view is still prevalent despite documented evidence that shows activity promoting the goals and agenda of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
- Second terrorism suspect in Mobile-based investigation pleads not guilty
- Prosecutors seek court order restricting non-classified information in Mobile terror case
- Federal grand jury indicts Mobile terrorism suspect; trial set for March
- 2 Alabama men arrested in Ga. on federal terror charges; allegedly planned violence overseas
- FIRST ON CNN: Bounty on two Americans tied to Somali terror group (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- Accused Alabama terrorist claims free speech; government releases new details of recordings (al.com)