He understands the greatness of a jihad in the U.S., man
Where did Abukhdair get the crazy idea that Islam’s goal was to take over the world through jihad? Was he reading the writings of greasy Islamophobes?
MOBILE,Alabama — A Syracuse, New York, native pleaded guilty Tuesday to a terrorism charge, admitting that he moved here and discussed carrying out violent acts in the United States before settling on a plot to join a jihadist movement overseas.
Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, 25, had been scheduled to go on trial later this year. On the day of his pretrial conference Tuesday, the defendant switched his plea to guilty.
Federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 15-year prison sentence for the charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. They will ask U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose to dismiss a passport fraud charge.
The plea comes four months after co-defendant Randy “Rasheed” Wilson, pleaded guilty in the case. Both men now will be sentenced in December.
Although the defendants ultimately agreed to fight for Islam in Africa, court records indicate that Abukhdair initially favored terrorism at home. At one point, during a conversation about AQI — al-Qaida in Iraq — Abuhkdair suggested he and Wilson would be AQUSA — al-Qaida in the United States.
“I don’t know if you guys understand the greatness of a jihad operation in the United States, man,” he told Wilson and an undercover FBI agent in February of last year, according to a partial transcript of the conversation.
Abukhdair told the agent that an Egyptian sheik was wrong to suggest that he give up jihad for a more peaceful form of proselytizing known as “dawah.” The goal of Islam, the defendant said, was to take over the world, and the means of achieving that goal was the sword of jihad.
The recorded conversations indicate that Abukhdair suggested taking hostages and demanding the release of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheik” implicated in a 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center; and Aafia Siddiqui, a scientist serving an 86-year prison sentence for assault with intent to murder investigators who were interrogating her in 2008.
“We just shoot it out with police,” Abukhdair said on Feb. 3 of last year, according to his plea document.
And if U.S. officials did not comply with their demands, the defendant said, “Well, at the very least, we kill them all.”
According to the plea agreement, Abukhdair was living in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2010 when he met Wilson online. The two struck up a friendship, and Wilson told his new friend that he had grown up with Omar Shafik Hammami, a Daphne native who went to Somalia to join a hardline Islamist group fighting the U.S.-backed government.
Wilson, a convert to Islam, was born in Mobile and spent part of his childhood in Birmingham before moving back to his hometown.
Abukhdair spent nearly two months in an Eyptian [sic] jail after authorities there arrested him in November 2010 on suspicion of connections to terrorist activities, and then deported him to the United States at the beginning of the following year.
According to the plea agreement, Wilson and Abukhdair worked out their plan between September 2011 and December, when authorities arrested them as they tried to leave for Africa.
After agreeing on a foreign target, Abukhdair and Wilson spent months trying to decide the best one. Court records indicate that they considered a number of potential countries in the Muslim world throughout 2011, rejecting each one for various reasons.
As they finalized their plans, according to court records, Wilson and Aubukhdair took steps to throw investigators off their trail. One of their moves involved opening a Mobile fragrance store in March 2012 in an attempt to convince the FBI that they had abandoned their plans.
That came a month after they threw their computers and other electronic devices into Mobile Bay.
Wilson and Abukhdair finally settled on Mauritania because of its proximity to Mali, where they expected violence to break out, according to prosecutors….