U.S. man accused of plot to bomb resorts
COLUMBUS, Ohio ” A federal grand jury indicted a U.S. citizen on charges of joining al-Qaida and conspiring to bomb European tourist resorts and U.S. government facilities and military bases overseas, officials said Thursday.
The investigation of Christopher Paul, 43, spanned four years, three continents and at least eight countries, FBI agent Tim Murphy said shortly before the Columbus man appeared before a federal judge.
Paul trained with al-Qaida in the early 1990s and told al-Qaida members in Pakistan and Afghanistan that he was dedicated to committing violent jihad, according to the indictment.
“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 radial cohorts both here and abroad,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said in a statement.
Paul, who was arrested Wednesday outside his apartment, is charged with providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
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In court Thursday, Magistrate Judge Terence Kemp asked Paul if he understood the charges. “Yes, sir,” Paul replied
Prosecutors asked that he be held without bond, and Kemp set another hearing Friday on the issue. Paul’s lawyer, Don Wolery, did not return a message seeking comment before the hearing.
The indictment says Paul traveled to Germany about April 1999 to train co-conspirators to use explosives to attack European and U.S. targets, including government buildings and vacation spots frequented by American tourists.
It does not name specific resorts or buildings that might have been targeted, but gives U.S. embassies, military bases and consular premises in Europe as examples.
Paul 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.
A fax machine in him home contained names, phone numbers and contact information for key al-Qaida leadership and associates, according to the indictment, issued Wednesday.
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.
His sister, Sandra Laws, answered the door at the home and said she and her father live there. She said the family will be speaking to Paul’s attorney later Thursday and declined further comment.
No charges are expected against family members, authorities said.
Paul was born Paul Kenyatta Laws. He legally changed his name to Abdulmalek Kenyatta in 1989, then to Christopher Paul in 1994, according to the indictment.
After finishing his al-Qaida training in the early 1990s, he returned to Columbus to teach martial arts at a mosque, the indictment said.
Two other Columbus men have been charged in federal investigators’ terrorism investigation. Iyman Faris was sentenced in 2003 to 20 years in prison for a plot to topple the Brooklyn Bridge. Nuradin Abdi, accused of plotting to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, is awaiting trial on charges including conspiring to aid terrorists.