Monday, September 11, 2006

Pakistani terrorism suspect was educated in Maryland

Julie Scharper:

A 1999 graduate of Owings Mills High School was moved to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, last week after being captured in Pakistan in 2003 and held in a secret CIA prison on allegations linking him to terrorism.

Majid Khan, 26, allegedly plotted to blow up gas stations and poison water supplies in the United States, according to a document posted on the Web site of the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte.

Khan and 13 other suspected terrorists -- including Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, who is thought to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks -- were moved from CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay on Wednesday and identified publicly on the Web site.

Along with his parents and seven siblings, Khan had moved from Pakistan to Catonsville in 1996. After graduating from high school, he became involved in a local Islamic organization and then returned to Pakistan in 2002. There, an uncle and cousin who were al-Qaida operatives drafted Khan, according to the document.

Muhammad had singled out Khan to work as an operative in the United States because he spoke fluent English, knew the Baltimore and Washington areas and had passed a test showing he was willing to commit suicide for his cause, according to the material on the Negroponte's Web site.

In 2002, it said, Khan delivered money earmarked for terrorist attacks against Western targets to a well-connected al-Qaida operative who also arrived at the Guantanamo prison last week.

According to his profile on the intelligence Web site, Khan and another suspected al-Qaida operative discussed plans to transport explosives for use with al-Qaida attacks, using the New York office of a Karachi-based textile import and export business.

In 2003, the document said, Khan arranged for a man named Uzair Paracha to impersonate him in the United States in order to obtain documents that would allow Khan to illegally re-enter the country, according to intelligence documents. Paracha -- who tried to create the appearance that Khan had never left the country -- was convicted in July and sentenced to 30 years in prison for providing material support to terrorism.

Former neighbors in Catonsville were shocked to learn that Khan had been linked to terrorism. They remembered him as a polite and respectful young man who was very knowledgeable about computers.

The Khan family owned a gas station on U.S. 40 west of Baltimore before selling it a few years ago, neighbors said.

The only thing unusual about the Khan family, neighbors said, was that their home was often under surveillance. About three years ago, people parked in front of the Khan home and watched it for nearly a month, they said.

Members of the Khan family, who moved from a rented home in Catonsville to Windsor Mill about a year ago, refused to comment on his case.

Pakistani man who once lived in Maryland among high-value terrorism suspects transferred to Guantanamo

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