Americans charged as terror aides held without bail

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 1, 2005 at 12:14 a.m.
NEW YORK - A pair of alleged al-Qaeda loyalists, one in New York and another in Florida, were in federal custody Tuesday after separate hearings where both were ordered held without bail.
Tarik Shah, 42, of New York, waved and smiled at supporters and appeared relaxed at his preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan before Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz.
In Fort Pierce, Fla., Dr. Rafiq Abdus Sabir, 50, told U.S. District Court Judge James Hopkins that he had yet to hire an attorney, and the judge set the next hearing in the case for June 6.
Neither defendant has yet entered a plea on the charge of conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda.
According to prosecutors, the two American citizens had sworn a formal oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda as they conspired to use their skills in martial arts and medicine to aid international terrorism.
At Sabir's next hearing, the Florida judge will consider whether he will be sent to New York for prosecution, and whether he will continue to be held without bond until trial. Prosecutors requested that Sabir remain in custody.
Outside court, spokesman Dan McBride of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton defended Sabir as a man who frequently traveled between the United States and Saudi Arabia to earn enough money to support his wife and their two sons.
''He's a broke doctor,'' McBride said. ''He has no money. He works over there, then comes back and lives over here.''
In New York, Anthony Ricco, a lawyer for Shah, said outside court that the case resulted from ''one of these sting things'' and a ''desperate prosecution by our government.''
The lawyer said he was eager to interpret the government tapes himself because the arrests were delayed for two years, something he suggested would not have occurred ''if somebody is really a threat to our security.''
He described Shah as a world renowned jazz musician, a father and a family man.
''These cases are not religious prosecutions. They are prosecutions based upon religious beliefs,'' said Ricco, a veteran terrorism defense lawyer, as Shah's wife stood at his side.
In Shah's supporters, Ricco said he saw ''the faces of America, not the faces of terrorism.''
Melanie Dyre, who described herself as a fellow musician, described Shah as ''a beautiful person and a wonderful musician.''
The men were arrested Friday; if convicted, each could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
The one-count complaint details a sting operation from 2003 to 2005 in which the two men took an oath pledging their allegiance to al-Qaeda.
Prosecutors said Sabir, an Ivy League-educated doctor, agreed to treat jihadists, or holy warriors, in Saudi Arabia. Shah, a jazz musician and a self-described martial arts expert, allegedly agreed to train them in hand-to-hand combat.
Shah's mother, Marlene Jenkins of Albany, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel the charge against her son is ridiculous and insisted he's not a terrorist. Sabir's former wife, Ingrid Doyle of New York, told the newspaper he was a good father and husband, and a hardworking man.
An 18-page complaint unsealed Monday repeatedly described Shah's zest to train ''brothers'' for urban warfare. It alleged both men pledged their allegiance to al-Qaeda during a May 20 meeting in the Bronx.
Shah went with an informant to a windowless Long Island warehouse to see if the location would be adequate as a training site, unaware FBI agents were secretly videotaping the visit, the papers said.
Shah discussed a desire to open a machine shop to make weapons so fellow enthusiasts would not have to rely on anyone else to get guns, the complaint said. At one point, the informant told Shah he was going to take him to Plattsburgh, N.Y., to introduce him to an undercover FBI agent posing as a recruiter from the Middle East.
Murphy said Shah was eager to introduce Sabir - a ''very, very, very close friend'' he had known for more than 20 years - to the recruiter.
Shah also discussed a desire to start a martial arts school only for Muslims and said he hoped to be trained in chemicals, explosives, firearms, AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, the complaint said. The defendant allegedly discussed martyrdom with the informant, saying he and Sabir had been persecuted for many years.

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