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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Islamic Center of Boca Raton member Rafiq Sabir terror trial lawyer Khurrum Wahid of CAIR also involved in lawsuit against DHS

Islamic Center of Boca Raton member Rafiq Sabir terror trial lawyer Khurrum Wahid of CAIR also involved in lawsuit against DHS

CAIR's legal advisor to defend terror doctor from Boca has own organisation named as defendent in 9/11 terror lawsuit
June 4, 2005

MIM: The arrest of Islamic Center of Boca Raton member doctor Rafiq Sabir ,and Tariq Shah,is now 'debated by analysts' who are questioning if planning and talking about waging Jihad could be . These issues were already discussed and analysed during the recent trial of Ali Al Tamimi, who was convicted in Virginia on charges of 'urging others to wage Jihad against America'. The guilty verdict will probably be used as an proof of the principal that "the law of conspiracy is the agreement to commit a crime" and the prosecution will have to prove that Sabir and Shah "really meant it". A tape of Shah and Tariq swearing allegiance to Al Qaeda is considered to be one of the strongest pieces of evidence against them.

The conviction of Dr. Ali Al Tamimi last month was seen as a victory on the war on terror and set a legal precedent, by making it a crime to recruit for Jihad. Al Tamimi's lawyer's had argued that urging Muslim to go to train and fight in a Jihad against the U.S. was an exercise in 'free speech'. The court convicted Al Tamimi on all 10 counts and he will be sentenced in July. The prosecutor in the Al Tamimi case argued that "He( Al Tamimi,)not only wanted Americans to die, he recruited others to his cause ...." http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/04/26/cleric.trial/

The Virginia prosecutors' arguments are echoed by that of Peter Magulies, a terrorism expert commenting the Sabir and Shah case who stated that; " providing terrorists with medical care so they can return to the clandestine theater in which they operate is no different then providing them with a gun.."( see article below).

MIM: It is also worth noting that Muslims who testified against Al Tamimi at his trial were members of the Virginia Jihad paintball network. A phone number of one of the groups members was found in the possession of Rafiq Sabir's accomplice Tariq Shah.

"....They(the FBI) also said Shah 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, who was convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia of providing material support to a Pakistan-based terrorist group in March 2004 and who was sentenced to 85 years in prison." http://cnnstudentnews.cnn.com/2005/LAW/05/31/sabir.shah/

Even more outrageous is the fact that Rafiq Sabir's lawyer Khurrum Basir Wahid, is the legal advisor for CAIR -The Council of American Islamic Relations. CAIR ,a Saudi funded front group for Hamas, was named as a defendant in a 9/11 terror lawsuit and is under investigation by a Senate Committee for ties to terrorism. Three CAIR officials have been jailed on terrorism charges . One of the CAIR officials jailed was Ismail Randall Royer who was a member of the Virginia Jihad network,( a member of the VJN's phone number was found with Sabir's co conspirator Shah). Ismail Royer, CAIR's communications director, was jailed on charges of plotting to wage Jihad against America, and recently testified at the trial of Ali Al Tamimi. http://hyscience.typepad.com/hyscience/2004/11/lets_say_it_cai.html

Khurrum Wahid is a legal council in a class action lawsuit brought by Muslims against the Department of Homeland Security . The Muslims complained that they were fingerprinted at the border when returning to the US after radical Islamist conference which had been described as a fundraising front and cover for terrorists . http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/360

Khurrum Wahid who was cited as CAIR NY legal advisor, was at a press conference announcing the lawsuit against the DHS . Arsalan Ifthikar of CAIR,( whose director Omar Ahmad stated that Islam should be the dominant religion in America, a reference to CAIR's intention of replacing the Constitution with the Koran), complained that interrogation of Muslims at the border was " unconstitutional and un-American." No doubt the arrest of Sabir will also be described using the same rhetoric, with the usual claims of anti Muslim bias thrown in .http://clarityandresolve.com/archives/2005/04/cair_aclu_unhol.php

"...(Altaf) Ali (executive director of CAIR FL), spoke with Sabir's wife and in all likelihood advised her to hire New York lawyer Khurrum Wahid, a former Miami-Dade County public defender who did volunteer work for the South Florida offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the ACLU..."

MIM :CAIR works closely together with the ACLU and Amnesty International. Amnesty chairman, Chip Pitts, spoke at a CAIR fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale in April and is on the board of The Muslim Legal Fund which raised money to defend the CAIR Texas founder Ghassan Elashi (and his brothers) who were jailed on terrorism related charges .http://www.muslimlegalfund.org/about.html http://www.aclusc.org/Page/Clipping/breaking.html

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Happier times for Dr. Rafiq Sabir Happier times
Dr. Rafiq Sabir celebrates the end of Ramadan at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton in November 2003. He has been charged with conspiracy and support for a foreign terrorist organisation.

Views of terror suspect from West Boca clash with charges

Analysts argue merits of Boca Terrorism Case


http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-pterrorcases04jun04,0,431628.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

June 4, 2005

Are they aspiring al-Qaida terrorists or simply braggarts?

That is the central issue under the law being used to charge a West Boca Raton doctor and a New York jazz musician with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, said former federal prosecutors and defense attorneys involved in other terrorism-related cases.

"The law of conspiracy is the agreement to commit a crime," said Andrew Patel, an attorney for Jose Padilla, accused of plotting with al-Qaida to detonate a radioactive bomb. "If you're just spouting your mouth off, it's different from seriously agreeing [to commit a crime]. The law makes a distinction between that. You have to really mean it."

The FBI's 18-page complaint -- which an agent says represents only part of the evidence against Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir and Tarik Ibn Osman Shah -- provides a strong case against the two, some analysts said.

The most damaging evidence, legal analysts said, appears to be an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden that Sabir and Shah both allegedly made during an audiotaped meeting May 20 with an undercover FBI agent posing as an al-Qaida operative.

"What they did here is get an FBI agent to go out and get these guys to do things that they wouldn't do on their own," said Thomas Nelson, who represented Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim arrested in connection with a Madrid bombing and then released in an embarrassing reversal for the government.

"What closed the case is this oath of allegiance," Nelson said after reviewing the complaint.

But Nelson and others said the case spotlights aggressive pursuit of an overly broad law and raises questions about the depth of Sabir's alleged offer of "material support" to terrorists.

The complaint accuses the pair of offering their services as a "package" -- Shah, a self-described martial-arts expert, would provide hand-to-hand combat training to al-Qaida members, while Sabir would treat "wounded jihadists" in Saudi Arabia who couldn't go to hospitals.

Shah also allegedly canvassed potential terrorist training sites in New York to teach "brothers how to use swords and machetes" and had a list of possible recruits.

"This does not appear to have been a witch hunt," George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor Stephen Saltzburg said after reviewing the complaint, which he called unusually detailed. "When you read this, this is not people sitting around having a cocktail and saying `maybe.' These are people who are involved in actual plans to assist in a war against Americans."

But Sabir and Shah's attorneys could point to several areas in a bid to show the two were less than zealous in their purported allegiance to al-Qaida, defense attorneys said.

Sabir appears to play a secondary role to Shah in the complaint, meeting with the agent once and refusing to help recruit others, saying, "I am only going to give myself," according to the document.

Even Shah, who had the majority of the meetings and conversations outlined in the complaint, failed to produce a training video and a syllabus to demonstrate what he would be able to teach the "brothers" about "close combat," despite having a year to do so, according to the document.

"A good lawyer might argue that that's evidence of his hesitancy of going through with the agreement," said James Thomas, a Detroit lawyer who represented Ahmed Hannan, who was acquitted of the same charge Sabir and Shah face in a bungled terror-related prosecution that ultimately cost a government prosecutor his job.

Prosecutors could counter that Shah was lazy, not hesitant, Saltzburg said.

Trying to show the undercover agent and the paid informant in the case attempted to manipulate the defendants is another area for the defense to mine, Thomas said.

"Maybe these people were pressing him and for some reason, morally or religiously, he went along," he said.

Khurrum Basir Wahid, a former Miami public defender and civil rights director for the Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic-Relations, has been retained to represent Sabir, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said Friday. Wahid could not be reached for comment despite an e-mail and calls placed to his Miami and Lighthouse Point offices.

Sabir's alleged offer to treat wounded al-Qaida members also may not rise to the level of material support for a terrorist group, Patel said.

"That is a fairly extreme interpretation of what it means to give material support," Patel said. "Doctors take an oath to treat anyone."

The government is concerned that the doctor would treat al-Qaida agents so they could return to the field of battle, said Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University who has written extensively about terrorism.

"Providing terrorists with medical care with the express purpose of helping them return to whatever clandestine theater they operate in is no different than providing them with a gun," Margulies said.

Nelson questioned the FBI's decision to dedicate substantial resources to Sabir and Shah and prosecute them under the sweeping conspiracy law.

"At the end of the day, you have to ask, was America threatened by this? Is anybody better off because they were arrested?" Nelson asked. Mary Cheh, another George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor, countered that in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack, the FBI would be faulted if it failed to try to root out prospective terrorists, although she was concerned the agency could overreach.

Defense attorneys warn an environment of fear pervades the judicial system.

"Having tried enough of these cases, I don't think anyone can get a fair trial," said William Swor, who defended one of the Detroit terror suspects.

John Coté can be reached at jwcote@sun-sentinel.com or 561-832-6550.

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MIM: It appears that Dan McBride, the spokesman for the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, "doth protest too much, when he cynically laughs and asks why a father of 2 children and jazz musician would start a terrorist network. McBride's dissembling scepticism cannot change the fact that a terror trial of ex USF professor Sami Al Arian, a father of 4, in his 50's is going on trial in Tampa on Monday on charges of starting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organisation in America and being responsible for the murder of 100 people. Law enforcement has stated that 40% of the leadership of PIJ was headquartered in Tampa. One USF professor Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, left Florida in 1995 for Syria where he became the leader of Islamic Jihad and is directly responsible for sending suicide bombers against American troops in Iraq, to this day.

McBride's amusement is an attempt to divert attention from the fact that one of the people listed as a manager of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, is professor Bassem Alhalabi, who was a student researcher with Al Arian at USF and listed Al Arian as a reference on his resume when he applied to teach at FAU. McBride, Alhalabi,and former ICBR Imam Ibrahim Dremali are 3 of the founders of the ICBR. The Center has been under scrutiny for years and a Hamas linked charity scam called the Health Resource Center Palestine involving the Imam, his brother and co wife (Lamyaa Hashim) was closed down in 2003.

Al Arian is one of many examples of terrorists with children and professional degrees, who are more of the norm then some illiterate Jihadi in a cave . Both Khalid Sheik Mohammed the 9/11 mastermind and the 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef had studied in US universities .

Al Arian was a USF computer science professor had a wife and 4 children (some of whom work for congressman at present ) . Al Arian's daughter has been raising money for her fathers defense with the support of her university (Georgetown), Al Arian is accused of setting up the American branch of Islamic Jihad and being responsible for the murder of 100 people. At one time 40% of the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was believed to be in Tampa, most of them professionals in the upper income bracket.

Sabir's accomplice Shah boasted to the FBI that being a jazz musician provided him with the' best cover' . It should also be remembered that Osama Bin Laden has several wives and more then 45 children. Bin Laden's deputy, Al Zawahiri was a children's doctor as was Hamas terror leader Rantisi. 9/11 hijacker Alomari , who lived in a house in Vero Beach ,Florida,sent his wife and 3 children back to Saudi Arabia after holding a party for the neighbors and their children a few days before crashing into the WTC with Mohammed Atta. At the party his wife served Happy Meals and told the guests they wanted to leave behind good memories.

As one commentor put it : Why should any terrorist hide in a cave in Afghanistan when they can come to Florida and get a tenured professorship?

Skeptic of terror charge against west Boca doctor cites previous dropped cases

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2005/06/05/s4a_sabir_side_0605.html

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Dan McBride laughs when he hears that the government thinks his friend Dr. Rafiq Sabir is a terrorist.

"You're going to choose a jazz musician and a 50-year-old with two children to start a terrorist network?" he said.

The government contends that Sabir and longtime friend Tariq Shah, a New York City musician, offered themselves to an undercover agent as a package deal to help foment a holy war in both the United States and the Middle East.

Excuse McBride if he's skeptical.

But like other devout Muslims, he said, since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he's seen too many government cases fall apart.

That's why the Council on American-Islamic Relations is watching the case, said Altaf Ali, who is Florida director of the national advocacy group.

"Any case involving a Muslim, we monitor to make sure his civil rights are protected," said Ali, who attended Sabir's court appearance last week even though he doesn't know the suburban Boca Raton resident.

Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, followers of Islam have been under intense scrutiny, and there have been many high-profile cases in which charges were dropped against Muslims who initially were branded terrorists, he said.

Two poster children for overzealous treatment of Muslims by the federal government are U.S. Army Capt. James Yee and Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer.

In 2003, Yee was held in solitary for 76 days after federal officials said they suspected the Muslim chaplain at the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of mutiny, sedition, espionage, spying and aiding the enemy. After he was vilified in the news media, no serious charges were filed against the 36-year-old West Point graduate.

Mayfield was jailed for two weeks last year when FBI officials identified him as a material witness to the March 11 bombing that killed 191 people in Madrid, Spain.

Ultimately, Mayfield, who had converted to Islam, was released by apologetic FBI officials, who blamed his improper arrest on a computer glitch.

Ali spoke with Sabir's wife and in all likelihood advised her to hire New York lawyer Khurrum Wahid, a former Miami-Dade County public defender who did volunteer work for the South Florida offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the ACLU.

McBride, who is raising money for Sabir's defense, said he believes Sabir was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. When agents discovered he was leaving the country, they arrested him without knowing much about him, he speculated.

Sabir had long planned to return to his medical practice in Saudi Arabia on June 2, McBride said.

Federal officials, however, said the May 28 arrests of Sabir and Shah were the culmination of a two-year investigation.

McBride, who is a chiropractor, said he has known Sabir since the physician moved to the county and joined the Islamic Center of Boca Raton about three years ago. He said his family is concerned that he's such an outspoken defender of Sabir. Both his wife and his mother worry that he will be arrested soon.

Such worries are nothing new, McBride said.

"I've felt that way since Sept. 11, 2001," he said.

He said his conscience gives him no choice but to stand by Sabir.

"He's just a great guy."

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MIM: Daniel McBride the spokesman for the Islamic Center of Boca Raton laughingly denied that his friend Rafiq Sabir has any ties to terrorism. The soundbytes given to the media by the heads of the Anti Defamation League and the American Jewish community not only fails to condemn CAIR and point out the groups ties to terrorism, they actually contain misinformation about the insidious role which the Saudi funded front group for Hamas is playing in the Muslim community. Both William Gralnick of the AJC and Arthur Teitelbaum of the ADL have a history of issuing non committal sound bytes after the fact when asked to comment on terrorism, and thr comments in the Boca News story yesterday are typical of how they have down played and misrepresented the terror threats posed by CAIR .
Instead of stating that CAIR is Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Teitelbaum states that they "have an unfortunate history of not speaking out on Hamas and Jihad activities". Gralnick expostulates obvious by remarking that CAIR is taking a more active role on behalf of the accused doctor and then inanely comments that "I dont think CAIR Is a dispassionate observer" "However, I've found that CAIR has an unfortunate history of not speaking out unequivocally or plainly on Hamas and Islamic Jihad activities," said Art Teitelbaum, ADL southeast region director. "We always hope that moderate Muslim voices will be there to speak out against extremist elements in their own community."

Boca resident Bill Gralnick, southeast regional director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), said he considered the hiring of Wahid to be a sign that CAIR is taking a more active role on behalf of the accused doctor.

"Someone had to refer this guy, so I don't think CAIR is a dispassionate observer," Gralnick said.

http://www.bocaratonnews.com/index.php?src=news&category=Local%20News&prid=11773

Published Saturday, June 4, 2005 1:00 am
by By Sean Salai

West Boca Raton doctor Rafiq Abdus Sabir has hired a Muslim civil rights attorney to defend him against charges that he conspired to help al-Qaida wage a holy war against the United States of America.

The Broward County office of attorney Khurrum Basir Wahid, a former civil rights director for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), confirmed Friday that he agreed to represent Sabir in a letter to U.S. Magistrate James Hopkins. As a result, Hopkins cancelled a Friday morning hearing in Fort Pierce on the status of Sabir's legal counsel.
Wahid could not be reached for comment as of press time Friday.

Sabir, 50, is scheduled to return to court Monday for a hearing on whether there is probable cause to charge him. If Judge Hopkins rules against the emergency room doctor, he will be transferred to New York to stand trial with co-defendant Tarik Shah, 42.

Dan McBride, a family friend and spokesman for the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, said members of Sabir's mosque would not travel to New York for the trial.

"With the lawyer taking over, they wouldn't need us there," McBride said. "The family is undecided about going. Obviously, though, we'll continue to support them throughout this ordeal."

McBride attended Sabir's bond hearing Tuesday and has said he believes the charges against the doctor are a big mistake.

Wahid, Sabir's attorney, is known as an effective litigant in Muslim-American activist circles. As recently as two years ago, he served as an unpaid legal consultant to CAIR's New York chapter, according to national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

"Everybody deserves an attorney," Hooper said Friday. "We have no official connection with the case, but we are monitoring it. Our main focus is to make sure there's due process and no bias based on religious or ethnic stereotyping."

A South Florida spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League, which is also monitoring the case, said he did not think Sabir's choice of Wahid would significantly affect the outcome of a trial.

"However, I've found that CAIR has an unfortunate history of not speaking out unequivocally or plainly on Hamas and Islamic Jihad activities," said Art Teitelbaum, ADL southeast region director. "We always hope that moderate Muslim voices will be there to speak out against extremist elements in their own community."

Boca resident Bill Gralnick, southeast regional director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), said he considered the hiring of Wahid to be a sign that CAIR is taking a more active role on behalf of the accused doctor.

"Someone had to refer this guy, so I don't think CAIR is a dispassionate observer," Gralnick said.

Gralnick, one of several local Jewish leaders who pressured the Islamic Center website to remove anti-Semitic links after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, noted that CAIR publicly denounced his organization when AJC released the books "Judaism for Muslims" and "Islam for Jews" in 2001 as part of its "Children of Abraham" series.

"There seem to be a lot of ties between CAIR and various Islamic activists, and CAIR is no fan of the American Jewish Committee," Gralnick said.

In the complaint filed in New York federal court, Sabir allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he would treat wounded jihad soldiers. Shah, a martial arts expert who met Sabir during his med school days at Columbia University, allegedly offered to train al-Qaida soldiers in hand-to-hand combat.

The sting operation against the two men reportedly went on for two years, as the undercover agent and a paid informant listened to them swear allegiance to al-Qaida.

Monday's hearing, if it is not cancelled, will also determine whether Sabir will be detained during a federal trial in Manhattan.

Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@bocanews.com or 561-893-6427.

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Doctor's past offers no hint of terror ties
By Antigone Barton, Jane Musgrave
Palm Beach Post Sunday, June 05, 2005
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2005/06/05/m1a_SABIR_0605.html
NEW YORK — The people who knew Rafiq Sabir as a standout medical student, a hard-working doctor and a devoted family man say they can't picture him throwing away what ambition and long hours had brought him.
But by the time the suburban Boca Raton doctor was arrested on a terrorism conspiracy charge May 28, just days before he was to travel to Saudi Arabia, he may have grown used to seeing his plans derailed.

Libby Volgyes/The Post
enlarge
IN CUSTODY: Dr. Rafiq Sabir, charged with conspiring to provide material support to Al-Qaeda, leaves U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce Monday.
Boca doctor accused
of Al-Qaida ties
Latest news in case of Dr. Rafiq Sabir, charged with aiding the terrorist network.

From an unsettled childhood, to an Ivy League education, to a stately Long Island home where he lived near a close-knit Muslim community, the rewards for his sacrifices had long seemed just around the next corner.
Instead, though, as he headed for South Florida, he left in New York a trail of debts, questions and people who noted that alongside his talents lay an ability to sabotage his own success.
None, however, saw signs that the busy doctor who never discussed politics would pledge loyalty to terrorists, as federal agents have charged.
The aims of Al-Qaeda, to which federal agents claim the doctor joined a flamboyant friend to offer his services, had little in common with the direction of the nearly half-century of his life so far, acquaintances said.
"He was a down-the-middle, hard-working guy who worked long hours to keep up his profession and expenses," said Dr. Faroque Kahn, a lung specialist who knew Sabir in New York. "I can't imagine him getting involved in chaos and destruction."
Sabir's father, Norman Wright, left the family, and his overwhelmed mother put him in a group home, according to news reports. But Sabir went on to attend City College of New York and Columbia University. Along the way, he converted from his family's Catholic faith to Islam and changed his name to Rafiq Sabir.
The 80-hour workweeks of his medical education were behind Sabir when he abruptly left his residency at New York's Harlem Hospital in June 1984, two weeks before completing its requirements.
He had a conflict with a supervisor that may have started because he missed shifts he was scheduled to work, according to other residents and staff members.
"I don't know if he jumped or was pushed," said one person who worked with him then.
Whatever the reason, the move cost him the chance to get his board certification as a doctor of internal medicine.
It also limited his ability to pay for the living expenses and tuition racked up during his years of schooling. Some medical students who landed at Harlem Hospital in the early 1980s had those costs paid by the National Health Service in exchange for work in under-served communities after graduating.
Budget cuts in the mid-'80s, though, slashed the numbers of approved locations. Those who didn't do the promised work were saddled with a debt three times the cost of their medical schooling. That appears to have happened to Sabir, who over the years amassed more than $400,000 in debts, including liens filed by universities, collection agencies and the Internal Revenue Service, according to court records.
He told the woman who bought his Long Island home in the mid-1990s that he had to move to Florida to work so the government would cover the cost of his education. And for five months, from August 2003 to January 2004, he worked as an emergency-room doctor at Glades General Hospital in impoverished Belle Glade.
Old friends team up
In the years immediately after his break with Harlem Hospital, he and his wife bought a building a few blocks away on busy Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard where he ran a medical practice above a hardware store and a coin laundry. His friend Tariq Shah, a lively local celebrity who played bass guitar with jazz bands, also taught martial arts in the building.
Nearly 20 years later, according to federal investigators, Shah offered a similar teaming — this time with a dark twist — to an undercover agent posing as an Al-Qaeda operative: Shah would teach terrorists to fight a jihad, and the doctor would heal them when they were wounded.
The building in Harlem was far behind Sabir by then. Lenders foreclosed on it in 1998. It now houses a mosque.
By the time he lost the building, his marriage, which had produced a son and a daughter, also was behind him.
Sabir moved to Long Island, where he worked as an emergency-room physician at Mercy Hospital from 1994 to 2000 and at Hempstead General, a hospital for the indigent that went bankrupt.
He married Arlene Morgan, and under her name, the couple bought an elegant and roomy Colonial-style house in an affluent part of Westbury called The Hedges. They had two children.
During that period, he also found time to visit his father in Georgia. His stepmother remembers the visit and thinks Norman Wright, now dead, called his son "Rafael."
In the late '90s, Sabir met Dr. Khan, prominent in both the medical and Islamic communities on Long Island.
Khan was impressed that Sabir was willing to undertake the last year of residency at Nassau County Medical Center to finish earning his credentials at a sacrifice of time and money. Khan was his supervisor at the medical center.
"He was making a nice living working in emergency rooms. He could have gone on doing that easily," said Khan, who is now president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, where Sabir came for prayers. "He returned to training. That said a lot about him."
That Sabir was arrested at the end of a two-year federal investigation doesn't change Khan's mind about him. "There's a track record of many cases that our government has made high-profile cases when there was nothing there," he said.
Unpaid bills, marital discord
Christine Bauer, a chiropractor who bought the house Sabir and his wife sold before moving to Florida several years ago, wasn't as impressed with the doctor. But she said she sensed nothing sinister about him, even as she gathered that he was leaving "in a hurry."
"We knew something was up, but nothing to do with terrorism," Bauer said. "Something to do with character."
In addition to delinquent tax and water bills, the Sabirs left a line of irate creditors who came in person to collect, she said. He even stiffed the broker who handled the house sale. "Why would anybody do that?" she said.
Bauer said she also found letters addressed to Sabir's wife from a woman claiming to be the doctor's mistress.
Sabir's family moved in briefly with Morgan's father and stepmother, who said she has heard little from the couple since they moved to Florida.
Marital discord apparently followed Sabir to Palm Beach County. On Oct. 7, Sabir filed a petition seeking a restraining order against his wife, claiming she frequently took his keys and "locked him out for days and sometimes a week or more."
He wrote that his wife also had threatened to take the children to Egypt so he couldn't see them.
Judge denies petition
His petition, however, didn't persuade Palm Beach County Judge Gary Vonhof that Sabir was in any danger. Vonhof denied it the same day it was filed. In bright blue marker, Vonhof wrote: "The petition is insufficient. NOTHING violent alleged." NOTHING was underlined three times.
The Sabirs' new neighbors speculated that the couple had problems because Sabir was gone for six months at a time, working in Saudi Arabia.
Dan McBride, who became friends with Sabir at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, said the doctor worked in Saudi Arabia to expose his children to a different culture. Others have said medical practice paid well there, where U.S.-trained doctors are in demand.
The neighbors were not the only ones remarking on the quiet doctor's travels. For at least the past month, some said as long as three months, FBI agents became regular visitors to the middle-class Villa San Remo gated community where Sabir lived, residents said.
Neighbors were awakened about 5 a.m. May 28, when FBI agents came to arrest Sabir. The next day, his 39-year-old wife calmly explained to a neighbor that her husband's arrest was a mistake. Arlene Morgan and her sons, Isa, 6, and Amir, 4, disappeared the next day. Alberto Montes, who lived next door to the Sabirs, said he never could figure out why, if Sabir was a doctor and his wife worked as a nurse at West Boca Medical Center, they rented a house, euphemistically called an "attached villa," in the neighborhood, which is pleasant but far from upscale.
The furnishings were as modest as the home itself, Montes said. In retrospect, he said, only one of their belongings stands out: a framed copy of a letter to their young son, congratulating him for doing so well in school. It was signed by President Bush.
Sting set in the Bronx
Montes said he didn't know Sabir had older children; neither Morgan nor Sabir ever mentioned them.
Yet, on the day Sabir was arrested, they were visiting for the first time after a long estrangement from their father. They returned from the visit traumatized, their mother said in an early interview.
A few days after her return, Sabir's daughter Safiya answered the door of the family's fifth-floor apartment on a tree-shaded street in Harlem and politely said she couldn't talk about what had happened.
A little more than a mile away, over the bridge into the Bronx, Tariq Shah's wife stood on stoop of the apartment building where she lives and where federal agents set the final trap for Shah and Sabir.
Zakkiyyah Shah wore a bright, tie-dyed head scarf and robe and an amused smile. Her eyes looked haunted, though, and she said she was devastated.
Pleasantly, she said her lawyers have asked her not to comment and that she feels she has to heed their advice: "Because I've never been in a situation like this."
With children laughing and shouting from the public-school playground across the street, it seems an unlikely setting for a terrorist plot.
But, according to the federal complaint charging Shah and Sabir with conspiring to support a terrorist organization, this is where the two men pledged to wage a holy war.
Shah, 42, went first, the complaint says: "Shah indicated that he understood the oath and agreed that he would obey the guardians of the oath, namely Sheikh Usama Bin Laden."
When Sabir's turn came, he ruminated on the step he was about to take, according to the report.
Agents reported he said words to the effect that, "We have a saying that you should be careful what you ask for because you might get it; I cannot complain."
Then, their complaint says, the 50-year-old doctor pledged his loyalty to Al-Qaeda.
Staff researchers Sammy Alzofon, Melanie Mena, Krista Pegnetter and Angelica Cortez contributed to this story.
A antigone_barton@pbpost.com
A jane_musgrave@pbpost.com


http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2005/06/05/m1a_SABIR_0605.html



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