Islamic Center of Boca Raton congregant Dr. Rafiq Sabir on trial for Al Qaeda aid plan -accomplice Tarik Shah pled guilty to terror charges
May 20, 2007
May 11, 2007
A large color photograph of Osama bin Laden was flashed onto a video screen in a federal courtroom on Thursday as a prosecutor began to cross-examine a West Boca doctor accused of pledging support to al-Qaida.
"You recognize that person, do you not? Who is that?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor Hou in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
"Osama bin Laden," answered Rafiq Abdus Sabir, who is on trial on a charge of providing material support to al-Qaida after an FBI sting operation caught him on an audiotape pledging an allegiance to al-Qaida.
Sabir has testified he did not know the oath was to the terror organization. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.
In a rapid succession of questions requiring yes and no answers that contrasted sharply with the direct testimony that had preceded it, Hou asked Sabir about al-Qaida and terrorist attacks for which the organization has taken responsibility across the globe over the last decade.
Sabir said he did not know al-Qaida was connected to many of them, including the August 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors, and the 1998 twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, which killed 224 people, 12 of them Americans. "You heard," Hou said, repeating for emphasis the end of Sabir's answer.
Sabir said he had not heard that al-Qaida called those who carried out the attacks martyrs.
"I have not been following al-Qaida," he said. "I don't know what they've been doing around the world."
Hou continued his line of questioning, asking Sabir if he could recall having heard Osama bin Laden's 1998 religious edict calling for Americans to be killed.
"No, I do not," the doctor answered. "I do not agree with any terrorism by anybody anywhere on the planet."
Repeatedly, Sabir asserted his innocence: "I did not willingly, knowingly or intentionally commit any crime," he said.
And he said that his former best friend, jazz musician and martial arts expert Tarik Shah, was a friend no more.
Shah and two others, a Washington, D.C., cab driver and a Brooklyn bookstore owner, have pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to prison sentences ranging from 13 to 15 years.
It was Sabir's second day on the witness stand. Copyright © 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6622020,00.html
Doctor Guilty Of Pledging Aid to Qaeda
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN
Columbia University-educated doctor who was taped swearing loyalty to Al Qaeda was found guilty by a jury yesterday of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
The doctor, Rafiq Sabir, 52, was the only one to stand trial among four men arrested in a wide-ranging terrorism sting operation. The other three all pleaded guilty to a range of charges. Sabir faces up to 30 years in prison.
The prosecution's case against Sabir, of Boca Raton, Fla., was based on a meeting he attended in a Bronx apartment in 2005 at which an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation was posing as a recruiter for Al Qaeda.
At the time, Sabir had a contract with a hospital in Saudi Arabia. At the meeting, the undercover agent told Sabir that he would be a valuable asset for Al Qaeda if he could move around that country giving medical aid to mujahedeen who are hurt, according to a recording played at trial. Sabir ended the meeting by pledging an oath of loyalty to Al Qaeda in Arabic, according to the tape.
Sabir testified that, due to his limited Arabic, he did not know to whom he was swearing the oath according to news reports of his testimony.
Sabir's lawyer, Edward Wilford, told Reuters that the verdict "is another example of the erosion of constitutional rights that we suffer post-9/11."
Before the trial, Mr. Wilford had unsuccessfully challenged the legality of the charges against his client, claiming that Sabir's ethical responsibility as a doctor precluded him from not treating the wounded, even if they were jihadists.
A friend of Sabir who was also present at the meeting, a martial arts instructor named Tarik Shah, was taped giving a similar oath. Shah pleaded guilty and has not been sentenced.