Michael Ray Stubbs
“Eighteen days after two American brothers were arrested in the Philippines on suspicion of links to terrorists, United States authorities remain in search of clues that the brothers were in fact providing support to Islamic militants, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.” Here’s hoping that the search will not be conducted as ineptly as the prosecutions of Sami Al-Arian and James Yee — for the brothers’ sake and ours.
“A senior official said the brothers, Michael Ray Stubbs and Jamil Daoud Mujahid, had been unknown to American law enforcement until they were arrested near Manila this month. The official described that lack of information as potentially worrying and said the F.B.I. was trying to determine whether the men were ‘true believers’ in the mode of John Walker Lindh, the American Muslim who fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“Mr. Mujahid, 56, is a convert to Islam who lives in a working-class neighborhood in Newark, Calif., some 40 miles southeast of San Francisco. Two of his neighbors there described him as a Vietnam veteran who wore military fatigues, trained German shepherds, traveled frequently and was last seen in early December. They said his female relatives had worn black veils since a family conversion to Islam several years ago.
“But the neighbors, as well as the brothers’ relatives, said they thought the suspicion that the two men had become mixed up in terrorism was groundless.”
Maybe it is, but it is at least interesting that this man’s chosen name, Mujahid, means “jihad warrior.”
“The Philippine authorities said Tuesday that they were deporting Mr. Stubbs and Mr. Mujahid as ‘undesirable aliens’ after finding evidence that they had made contact with Islamic militants tied to Al Qaeda. Mr. Mujahid’s son Jamil Jr. said in an interview in Newark on Wednesday that the brothers had arrived in the Philippines only days before their arrest on Dec. 13. The younger Mr. Mujahid and his sister, Rashida, who was interviewed on CNN, said they believed that the Philippine authorities had unjustly detained the men, either as a way of extorting money from them or to demonstrate resolve against terrorism.
“Mr. Stubbs, 55, of Antioch, Calif., east of Oakland, worked from 1990 to 2000 as a heating and air-conditioning technician at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he held a high-level security clearance. Since his arrest, the F.B.I. has been working with counterintelligence officials from the laboratory to try to determine whether he gained access to classified information.
“Lawrence Livermore, near San Francisco, is one of the country’s leading nuclear weapons laboratories and has also done research on technologies aimed at detecting biological weapons. Susan Houghton, a Livermore spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Mr. Stubbs had been given a Q-level security clearance, the highest level granted to employees. That clearance would have allowed him access to classified buildings, she said, but he would not necessarily have been able to obtain classified information. In any case, Ms. Houghton said, nothing in Mr. Stubbs’s background or conduct while he was an employee had been seen as troubling.
“In announcing on Tuesday that the brothers would be deported, Philippine immigration officials said they knew of nothing to connect them to past or planned terrorist attacks. But the two men made contact with people linked to terrorist groups, the Filipinos said, and Mr. Mujahid, formerly known as James Stubbs, maintained bank accounts that held ‘substantial deposits’ from ‘contacts of suspicious and dubious background.’
“Officials of the F.B.I. and the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement have said that no charges are pending against the men but that investigations are being conducted. It is not clear when they will be deported by the Philippines.
“The brothers’ stepmother, Deloncie Stubbs, 83, was quoted in Wednesday’s editions of The San Jose Mercury News as saying that she was ‘just shocked’ by reports of the arrest. In her comments to CNN, Rashida Stubbs, Mr. Mujahid’s daughter, said that she had spoken recently to her father and that he was ‘holding up the best he can in that circumstance.’
Mr. Mujahid’s children said he had gone to the Philippines to visit his wife, a Filipino. The younger Mr. Mujahid, 31, said his father had traveled earlier to Sudan to study Islam. He said his uncle, Mr. Stubbs, was a Christian who had not converted to Islam.
“‘I know he’s not a terrorist,’ the younger Mr. Mujahid said of his father. ‘We see it as a way to get money.'”
Then come the obligatory neighbor-reaction paragraphs: “The Mercury News report quoted some of Mr. Mujahid’s neighbors in Newark as saying he was a strict Muslim who refused to give Halloween candy to neighborhood children because of the holiday’s pagan roots. The neighbors, who were not otherwise identified, told the newspaper that Mr. Mujahid had returned from Sudan in early December wearing a long gray beard and had told them he would soon be traveling again, to the Middle East.
“Another neighbor, Val Bernal, 45, interviewed at her home in Newark by The New York Times, said Mr. Mujahid and his family had rented their modest home for about 15 years. ‘One thing I noticed was that he was always in Army fatigues,’ Ms. Bernal said.
“The neighbors said they had known Mr. Mujahid as James Stubbs or Jamil Stubbs, and believed he made his living training dogs, not as a teacher, the occupation cited by the authorities in the Philippines. Another neighbor, Shirley Orr, 67, said that she had lived in the neighborhood for 40 years and that Mr. Mujahid and his family had ‘never caused any trouble.’ Ms. Orr expressed hope that ‘people keep an open mind until they find out what’s going on.'”