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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Head of CAIR Columbus OH Ahmed Al Akhras knows arrested A-bomber wannabe -vows group's support -claims charges "out of character"

Head of CAIR Columbus OH Ahmed Al Akhras knows arrested A-bomber wannabe -vows group's support -claims charges "out of character"

April 13, 2007

Moderate friends of terror to the rescue again.

Ahmad Al-Akhras, vice chair of the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he knows Paul and the charges are out of character.
"From the things I know, he is a loving husband and he has a wife and parents in town," Al-Akhras said. "They are a good family together."
Al-Akhras said his group will work to make sure Paul's constitutional rights are granted.
MIM: And he was such a nice guy too: A friend of Paul's, Hisham Jenhawi, 32, attended Thursday's court hearing and said he found the charges hard to believe.
"I don't think it's even close to his personality to act upon something like that," he said at the federal courthouse. "He's a very kind person. You would meet him on the street and he would want to hug you with the heart that he has."
Paul had an article at his home titled "How I designed the A-bomb," and a fax machine contained names, phone numbers and contact information for key al-Qaida leadership and associates, according to the indictment.
Paul also is accused of storing material at his father's house in Columbus, including a book on improvised land mines, money from countries in the Middle East and a letter to his parents explaining that he would be "on the front lines," according to the indictment In this photo released by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Christopher Paul, 43, of Columbus, Ohio, is shown. Paul appeared Thursday, April 12, 2007, in federal court charged with providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. In this photo released by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Christopher Paul, 43, of Columbus, Ohio, is shown. Paul appeared Thursday, April 12, 2007, in federal court charged with providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. http://www.chroniclet.com/2007/04/13/prosecutors-ohioan-%E2%80%98a-violent-jihadist%E2%80%99/

Prosecutors: Ohioan a violent jihadist'

Associated Press

Matt Leingang
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS Federal authorities say an Ohio man was so dedicated to committing violent jihad that he angrily told a fellow al-Qaida member that the terrorist group should never consider scaling back military operations.
Christopher Paul is depicted by investigators as a man who made that statement during a stay at an exclusive guest house for al-Qaida members in Pakistan in the early 1990s. He then spent years providing money and training to others who would join him in plotting to bomb European tourist resorts and U.S. military bases overseas, the U.S. government said Thursday.
In a letter to his future wife, Paul even reflected on his desire to one day raise "little mujahideen," or holy warriors, according to a federal grand jury indictment.
The investigation into Paul spanned four years, three continents and at least eight countries, FBI agent Tim Murphy said.
Paul, 43, a U.S. citizen and Columbus resident, was arrested Wednesday outside his apartment. He is charged with providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. The weapon of mass destruction charge carries the most serious penalty, up to life in prison.
Ahmad Al-Akhras, vice chair of the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he knows Paul and the charges are out of character.
"From the things I know, he is a loving husband and he has a wife and parents in town," Al-Akhras said. "They are a good family together."
Al-Akhras said his group will work to make sure Paul's constitutional rights are granted.
Paul appeared Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Terence Kemp, who set a hearing Friday on prosecutors' request that Paul be held without bond. Paul's lawyer, Don Wolery, declined comment.
After completing his al-Qaida training in the early 1990s, Paul returned to Columbus to teach martial arts at a mosque, the indictment said.
Paul traveled to Germany about April 1999 to train co-conspirators to use explosives to attack European and American targets, including government buildings and vacation spots frequented by American tourists, the document said.
It does not name specific resorts or buildings that might have been targeted, but it gives U.S. embassies, military bases and consular premises in Europe as examples.
He later sent a wire transfer of $1,760 from a financial institution in the U.S. to an alleged co-conspirator in Germany, prosecutors allege.
He also is accused of conspiring to use explosives against an unidentified person in the U.S., training people in the U.S. to be ready for violent jihad outside the country and of conducting operations at an Ohio park in 1998 with several co-conspirators.
"The indictment of Christopher Paul paints a disturbing picture of an American who traveled overseas to train as a violent jihadist, joined the ranks of al-Qaida and provided military instruction and support to radical cohorts both here and abroad," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said in a statement.
Bill Hunt, first assistant U.S. attorney, declined to say whether any of the alleged plots were carried out. People whom Paul associated with in Europe have been arrested, he said.
A friend of Paul's, Hisham Jenhawi, 32, attended Thursday's court hearing and said he found the charges hard to believe.
"I don't think it's even close to his personality to act upon something like that," he said at the federal courthouse. "He's a very kind person. You would meet him on the street and he would want to hug you with the heart that he has."
Paul had an article at his home titled "How I designed the A-bomb," and a fax machine contained names, phone numbers and contact information for key al-Qaida leadership and associates, according to the indictment.
Paul also is accused of storing material at his father's house in Columbus, including a book on improvised land mines, money from countries in the Middle East and a letter to his parents explaining that he would be "on the front lines," according to the indictment.
Paul's sister, Sandra Laws, answered the door at the two-story, pale green home she shares with her father, Ernest, in suburban Columbus but declined to comment on the case.
No charges are expected against family members, authorities said.
Paul was born Paul Kenyatta Laws, and legally changed his name to Abdulmalek Kenyatta in 1989, then to Christopher Paul in 1994, citing religious reasons for the last switch. He had passports under various names that he used in his travels, which included stops in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, authorities said.
In Columbus, Paul taught martial arts at a mosque, authorities said. His friend, Hisham Jenhawi, said his daughter played with Paul's daughter, who is about 9 years old and is home-schooled.
A neighbor, Mike James, 20, who lives at the apartment complex where the government said Paul lived, said he'd seen Paul and his family at times in a hallway. He did not know what Paul did for a living and hadn't seen him in about a month.
"He seemed like a nice guy, always waving, and the next thing you know, he could be a terrorist," James said. "That's scary."
Paul, who is married to a woman named in the indictment as F. Bashir, is linked to another man charged in a terror investigation, court records show.
Nuradin Abdi, accused of plotting to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, is awaiting trial. A laser range finder and a night vision scope seized from Paul's residence are listed among items that the government intends to use as evidence in Abdi's case, court records show.
Abdi also listed Paul as a personal reference on a government employment application, records show.
Abdi's attorney, Mahir Sherif, said his client knew Paul but declined to elaborate.
A third Columbus man, Iyman Faris, was sentenced in 2003 to 20 years in prison for a plot to topple the Brooklyn Bridge.
Sherif said the government has been trying to link the three men for years.

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