WASHINGTON (CNN) — A former top official for the District of Columbia’s public schools is being held on charges of conspiring to raise money and recruit fighters for Muslim extremists.
Kifah Wael Jayyousi, arrested Sunday at an airport in Detroit, Michigan, was chief facilities director for public schools in Washington from 1999 to 2001. But in the years running up to that high-profile position, he supported “violent jihad” in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya and Somalia, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.
Jayyousi’s arrest is connected to the investigation of The Global Relief Foundation and what federal authorities allege was a network providing material support to terrorists, mostly through supposed charities.
Jayyousi, a U.S. citizen originally from Jordan, is accused of conspiring with Adham Amin Hassoun, who has been in U.S. custody since 2002. Also charged in the criminal complaint is Kassem Daher, described in an FBI affidavit as living in Lebanon….
The criminal complaint against Jayyousi, 43, was filed in Miami, Florida, in December, and cites an investigation that began in 1993. It alleges that Jayyousi and his two co-conspirators set up nonprofit charities through which they raised money and recruited fighters for jihadi groups affiliated with al Qaeda.
The charities include American Islamic Group and American Worldwide Relief. In one instance, Jayyousi is described as having recruited a person to provide satellite phones to Chechen mujahedeen commanders.
It was in 1993 that the Omar Abdel Rahman was arrested and charged with plotting to blow up several New York landmarks. Abdel Rahman, now serving a life sentence, was a spiritual leader of Egypt’s largest Islamic militant group, al-Gama’a al-Islamiya.
An FBI agent’s affidavit describes Jayyousi as a “supporter and follower” of Abdel Rahman and says that in 1994 and 1995, investigators intercepted phone conversations between the two men.
“Jayyousi would update [Abdel Rahman] with jihad news, many times reading accounts and statements issued directly by terrorist organizations,” the affidavit says.