Would that they were all like this. “Terrorist plot unravels at rural Oregon ranch,” by Les Zaitz for The Oregonian, October 17 (thanks to James):
Oussama Kassir, a self-proclaimed al-Qaida tough guy, flew into a rage after his late-night arrival at a remote Oregon ranch.
The barren rangeland, suggestive of Afghanistan, was to become an Islamic fighter training base.
Kassir expected to be welcomed by Muslim recruits, eager to learn the ways of war.
Instead, he got an Islamic leader from Seattle, a mentally impaired 18-year-old and two women more interested in canning jars than jihad.
Kassir expected access to a weapons armory.
He got one pistol and a .22-caliber rifle.
The events that led to the effort 10 years ago to establish a jihad camp outside Bly have been well-chronicled. But testimony and exhibits from Kassir’s trial in New York provide the fullest account to date of what went on behind the gates of the Dog Cry Ranch.
What emerges from the trial record is an almost comic account of passwords, night patrols and target practice. Jihad, it seems, couldn’t take root alongside the sagebrush and weeds that greeted Kassir.
Kassir recently was sentenced to life in prison for his effort, and his two partners in the enterprise are awaiting extradition to the U.S.
The whole set up was in fact a hustle by a petty crook from Seattle named James Ujaama.
An “Islamic time share”
Ujaama envisioned the Oregon camp as an Islamic time share, selling visits to foreign Muslims. Twice he lured groups from his Seattle mosque for weekend visits to the ranch. They thought they were going on a bit of a Western adventure — riding, shooting and chasing cows.
In late 1999, Ujaama pitched a more grave version to a London imam, Abu Hamza al-Masri. The hook-handed preacher was known for fiery oratory, lashing the West while secretly arranging entree for Muslims to militant camps in Afghanistan. Ujaama promised al-Masri a safe haven, recruits and weapons to transform the desert ranch into a Muslim military training camp.
Al-Masri bought the pitch, and Kassir soon found himself on a trans-Atlantic flight to the U.S. He would later boast that he had trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan. He brought along a partner, Haroon Aswat, supposedly an al-Qaida trainer himself. Aswat later would spend time in an al-Qaida safe house in Pakistan, his visit recorded in a ledger bearing the fingerprints of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
For the Oregon trip, the wiry Aswat packed homemade training CDs with graphic instructions on how to make bombs and poisons.
One manual warned that making poison was “more dangerous than making explosives. Always use good protective clothing. I know too many mujahedeen whose lungs and bodies are messed up due to the lack of quality protection equipment.” […]
And when it all unraveled:
Kassir and Aswat took refuge in a Seattle mosque and tried taking the training to the Muslims who hadn’t wanted to move to Bly.
After a few classes, the men from London gave up and packed their bags for home. Kassir explained his exasperation to Osman.
“I’ve been trying to train these brothers,” Kassir said. “They’re not taking it seriously.”
Good on them.