Of course, everyone who knows him is shocked, shocked! He’s a terrific guy! The most gentle soul in the world! Why, this must all be trumped up! (All this may be true this time, of course, but it would be much more convincing if we didn’t hear it every time someone was arrested on terror charges.) “Local man caught up in al-Qaida case,” from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, with thanks to Richard:
To the government, Malkandi is seen as a threat to national security. FBI and immigration officials say he tried to help one of the world’s deadliest terrorists, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, gain entry into the country in 1999.
Malkandi, 46, has been jailed at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac since Aug. 25. He has not been charged with any crime.
He says his troubles came from one brief effort to help a friend of a friend come to the United States for medical treatment. He emphatically denies knowing who the man truly was, or his terrorist intentions.
It turns out the man he attempted to assist was Tawfiq bin Attash — also known as “Khallad” — the one-legged al-Qaida operative who helped plan the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He also served as a bodyguard for bin Laden, and, in lieu of making it into the United States to participate in the 9/11 attacks, he helped plan them, specifically serving as a key contact for the pilot and crew of the airliner that smashed into the Pentagon, according to U.S. authorities….
Malkandi flatly denies he had any idea whom he may have been assisting. He said he didn’t know who Osama bin Laden was until after Sept. 11. “I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of al-Qaida,” he wrote….
“I would be hard-pressed to say anything negative about Sam at all, and I’m one of the world’s worst cynics,” said family friend Barbara Minton, a Redmond woman who met the Malkandis when her husband was taking an English-as-a-second-language course with Mali Malkandi at a local community college three years ago.
“We would always tell him he was too trusting. He just doesn’t want to hurt anybody,” Minton said. “He’s always there to do anything for anybody.”
Greg Hope, director of the refugee resettlement program for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, agrees. Hope said he’s helped Malkandi with a loan for his home, and with another loan that was about to be finalized when Malkandi was arrested. That one would have made it possible for him to buy a sub shop in Kenmore.
Hope said Sam also has gone out of his way to be helpful to him on several occasions, including agreeing to give a keynote address to the Episcopal group’s annual dinner a few years back.
“He’s just a genial guy, a born networker,” Hope said — “a great guy to have in the country.”