On Friday the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the 16-count indictment of a “designated terrorist” and his brother for their alleged roles in providing funds and equipment to terrorists resulting in deadly bomb attacks in the Philippines.
The brothers are 43-year-old Rahmat Abdhir (aka Sean Kasem and aka Sean Kalimin) and 41-year-old Zulkifli Abdhir (aka Zulkifli Bin Abdul Hir, aka Hulagu and aka Marwan).
The older Abdhir brother, a U.S. citizen living in San Jose, Calif., was arrested outside his place of employment in Sunnyvale on Aug. 3, before the DOJ announced the indictment. He is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material to terrorists, contributing goods and services to a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (his brother Zulkifli), and making false statements.
In the DOJ announcement, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L. Wainstein said: “With today’s arrest and indictment, we have closed off a channel by which an American citizen was allegedly funding and supplying a fugitive designated terrorist with two-way radios and other materials for his operations overseas. As this case demonstrates, we will bring the full force of the law against anyone who uses the resources of our economy to support overseas terrorism.”
Zulkifli Abdhir is at large and believed to be in the Philippines; there is a $5 million reward for his capture. He is charged in the indictment with conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. According to the DOJ, the U.S. government identified Abdhir as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in Sept. 2003. In March 2007, the State Department added him to the Rewards for Justice program’s most-wanted list, noting his membership with the central command of Jemaah Islamiyah and his alleged involvement in multiple bombings in the Philippines that left several dead and injured.
According to the indictment, Zulkifli and Rahmat Abdhir often used code to communicate back and forth between their locations in the U.S. and the Philippines. They allegedly discussed what Zulkifli wanted Rahmat to send him from the United States, including money and accessories for firearms, Insignia two-way radios, backpacks, and knives.
It’s alleged that Rahmat Abdhir shipped the requested items from the U.S. to Zulkifli in the Philippines, using various aliases for both the sender and the recipient. According to the indictment, between June 2006 and June 2007, Rahmat Abdhir allegedly shipped several two-way radios, Colt .45 magazines, binoculars, a rifle scope and firearms manual, flashlights, batteries, and camouflage clothing to his brother. Rahmat also allegedly sent more than $10,000 to his brother, varying the times and amounts of money sent, and using false names and addresses.
The DOJ press release states that Zulkifli Abdhir kept his brother in the U.S. informed of his situation in the Philippines, including activities of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MILF is said to be involved in the ongoing secessionist campaign in the Southern Philippines and has allegedly provided assistance to groups such as Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf group.
In the press release, U.S. Attorney Scott N. Schools said: “This indictment is the product of the extraordinary efforts that FBI, ICE, CBP and their federal, state and local partners have made to assure that the country is protected from future terrorist acts and that individuals who sympathize with terrorists in other parts of the world do not find comfort in the United States. I appreciate the investigative efforts of the FBI and ICE, and the prosecutorial efforts and expertise provided by the Department’s National Security Division.”
Joseph Billy, Jr., FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism, said: “Today’s charges illustrate the workings of an international terror network – and how law enforcement and intelligence agencies, joining together and sharing information, can successfully disrupt the deadly plans of terrorists.”
Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement added: “ICE leveraged both our customs and immigration authorities during this investigation. Working with our law enforcement partners, federal agents were able to seize dangerous equipment destined for people who mean to do harm.”
As is always the case, the DOJ added that the indictment contains allegations only, and the public should remember that those charged are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
DOJ press release, Specially Designated Global Terrorist and His Brother Indicted for Providing Material Support to Terrorists; http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2007/August/07_nsd_578.html