A former Washington, D.C., public school official has been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and to commit violent acts overseas.
Kifah Wael Jayyousi, an adjunct engineering professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who previously served as the chief facilities director for public schools in Washington, D.C., from 1999 to 2001, was arrested by U.S. customs agents on March 27 at Detroit Metro Airport after arriving from Qatar where he had been visiting his father.
Jayyousi is accused of conspiring to raise money and recruit terrorists to fight in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Somalia and Afghanistan in the 1990s, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Miami last December and unsealed in March.
Jayyousi, a Jordanian-born U.S. citizen who had been living in Qatar since 2003, and two associates were described by federal prosecutor Russell Killinger as "primary participants in a triangulated North American support cell."
The prosecution alleges that Jayyousi was aided by Kassem Daher, who is also charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources for terrorism, and by Adham Amin Hassoun, a Palestinian-American computer engineer from Sunrise, Florida. Hassoun, who is facing separate terrorism charges in Miami, has been in U.S. custody since 2002.
Daher, a movie theater owner who lived in Canada until 1998 and is currently living in Lebanon, and Jayyousi are also charged with conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people or damage property in a foreign country.
An FBI affidavit indicates that Jayyousi had been under surveillance by federal agents from 1993 to 2000. It also alleges that Jayyousi, Daher and Hassoun recruited fighters and set up non-profit charities, including the American Islamic Group and American Worldwide Relief, to raise money for groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Jayyousi is allegedly a "supporter and follower" of convicted terrorist mastermind Omar Abdel Rahman. According to the affidavit, investigators intercepted phone conversations between the two men in 1994 and 1995 in which Jayyousi relayed a message from an overseas supporter and briefed him on "jihad news."
At a bond hearing on March 30, federal judge Steven Whalen expressed concern that the government's case was weak, noting of the evidence in the FBI's affidavit that "much of this information involves an expression of political opinion." However, he ordered Jayyousi to be held without bond because of the possibility of flight.