Tags: Clerics | times | square | jamaica

Times Square Suspect Inspired by Clerics in Yemen, Jamaica

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 10:52 AM

The man accused in the failed Times Square bombing attempt has been talking to authorities for more than two weeks. And one of the things he told them, according to people close to the case, is that he was inspired to act by two Internet clerics — one in Yemen and another in Jamaica.

Faisal Shahzad, who made his first court appearance Tuesday and faces five felony charges, waived his right to a speedy trial after he was arrested May 3 in New York while trying to leave the country by plane.

Investigators say that because the 30-year-old Pakistani American has been cooperating, they didn't want an earlier court appearance to get in the way of what he was telling them.

The first cleric Shahzad cited is a familiar name: Anwar al-Awlaki. He's the American-born imam who has been linked to an al-Qaida group in Yemen — the same imam who allegedly blessed the Fort Hood shootings and the botched Christmas Day bombing attempt of a U.S. airliner by a young man carrying explosives in his underpants.

The other cleric is a less familiar figure.

His name is Abdullah Faisal, a 46-year-old convert to Islam who is from Jamaica. He spoke with NPR on Tuesday. We had initially set up an interview with him to be recorded for broadcast on the radio. But when he arrived, he demanded that we pay him for the interview. When I refused, he declined to go on tape.

But I did have a long talk with him and in the process got answers to many of the questions that have been swirling around him ever since he became one of the first Internet imams linked to the possible radicalization of young Muslims.

He's been linked to two of the men who blew up transportation targets in the U.K. in 2005. He was a mentor to a Jamaican convert, Germaine Lindsay, who died in that 2005 suicide bombing. He has also been linked to the man who wanted to set up a terrorism training camp in Oregon several years ago. He was an imam at the Brixton Mosque in London when Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, worshipped there. Zacharias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks, was also a follower of his.

More recently, Faisal was sentenced to prison in the U.K. for calling followers to kill Jews, Americans and Hindus in one of his CD lectures. He served more than four years, then ended up in Africa. He was just deported to Jamaica from Kenya a couple of months ago for allegedly trying to recruit people there for violent jihad — a charge he denies.

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010 10:52 AM
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