A Lebanese-born Swedish man has been convicted on terrorism charges for attempting to set up a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon and operating multiple Web sites that distributed terrorist training materials.
Oussama Abdullah Kassir, 43, was found guilty by a federal jury in New York on May 12, 2009 on 11 terrorism counts, including conspiracy to provide and providing material support and resources to Al Qaeda and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country. He was also convicted on charges relating to his operation of several terrorist Web sites, including distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.
According to the indictment, British Islamic cleric and U.S.-designated terrorist Abu Hamza al-Masri (a.k.a. Mustafa Kamel Mustafa) sent Earnest James Ujaama and later Kassir and Haroon Rashid Aswat to the U.S. to establish a jihad training camp in Bly in 1999. The camp was established to provide military-style jihad training to prepare a community of Muslims to wage jihad or receive additional training in Afghanistan, according to court documents.
"Jihad," as understood by Abu Hamza and Kassir, meant "defending Islam against its enemies through violence and armed aggression, including killing the enemies of Islam," according to the Department of Justice.
Ujaama, a U.S.-born Muslim convert who pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists in August 2007, testified in court against Kassir. He admitted that he acted as a tour guide of the camp for Kassir upon Kassir's arrival in Oregon in December 1999.
In Bly, Kassir taught techniques for waging jihad and trained two subordinates "how to kill a person by slitting their throat with a knife and how to fight with a knife in hand-to-hand combat," according to the indictment. He expressed his support of both Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and admitted to previous jihad training in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Lebanon. Kassir also distributed CD-ROMs containing instructions on how to make bombs and poisons.
After expressing his disappointment with the limited number of recruits interested in training at the Bly camp, Kassir traveled to Seattle to attend the Dar us Salaam Mosque. For two months, Kassir provided jihad training to men at the mosque, including lessons on how to assemble and disassemble an AK-47 and how to alter an AK-47 to launch a grenade, according to the Department of Justice. A former mosque member testified that Kassir admitted he had come to the U.S. to "plan attacks [and]…destroy." When talking about suicide operations, Kassir said "human bones are the best shrapnel."
Ujaama also admitted to creating an advertisement for the camp, which reportedly promised training in military techniques with weapons, hand-to-hand combat and martial arts. "It is 100 percent legal," the advertisement read, "the land is in a state that is pro militia and firearms state, an advantage for self defense training."
Kassir also operated at least six Web sites containing terrorist materials from 2001 to 2005, according to court documents. These Web sites included instructions on how to make bombs and poisons and featured manuals entitled "The Mujahideen Explosives Handbooks" and "The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook."
Kassir was detained in 2005 in Prague during a layover when traveling from Stockholm, Sweden to Beirut, Lebanon. His arrest was based on a criminal complaint filed in New York, and he was extradited to the U.S. from Prague in September 2007.
Two other defendants named in the indictment, Abu Hamza al-Masri and Haroon Rashid Aswat, are currently detained in England and awaiting extradition to the U.S. for providing and concealing material support and resources to terrorists. Additionally, Abu Hamza is charged with conspiring to take hostages and hostage-taking for his alleged involvement in the 1998 kidnapping of sixteen Western tourists, including two U.S. nationals, in Yemen.
Kassir reportedly spent 10 months in jail for illegal weapons possession before his 2005 arrest in Prague. In 1998, he served a prison sentence in Sweden for assaulting a police officer and possessing drugs and a gun.
Kassir faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.