A Muslim convert from Seattle, who served two years in prison for aiding the Taliban, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges after violating the terms of his plea agreement.
Earnest James Ujaama pleaded guilty in a New York federal court on August 13, 2007, to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and providing material support or resources to terrorists. Ujaama admitted to trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon and to raising money for terrorists in Afghanistan between June 2000 and December 2001. He faces up to 30 years in prison.
Ujaama was originally indicted on these charges by a Washington federal court in August 2002. The charges were dropped the following year when he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of conspiring to provide goods and services to the Taliban. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ujaama was not allowed to travel internationally during the three-year probation period that followed his two-year prison sentence.
Ujaama violated his plea agreement when he traveled with a fake Mexican passport to Belize, where he was arrested outside a mosque in December 2006. He is currently serving another two year prison sentence for violating the terms of his probation, which enabled the U.S. District court in Seattle, where the original trial took place, to revoke his 2003 plea agreement and again charge him with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and providing material support or resources to terrorists.
Ujaama, who has been cooperating with the government in various terrorism investigations, claimed that he fled the U.S. because he did not want to testify against now-convicted London cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, his alleged co-conspirator. Ujaama, who moved from Seattle to London in the mid-1990s, attended al-Masri’s Finsbury Park mosque, which was frequented by Richard Reid, the so-called "shoe bomber," and Zacarias Moussaoui. Ujaama, a computer technician, designed and maintained al-Masri's militant Islamic Web site.
A video made prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks shows Ujaama giving a speech with al-Masri at the Finsbury Park mosque, stating: “There are many Muslims who have forgotten that the Jews and Christians are our enemies….today the crusade is against Islam and they [sic] are led by the Jews because they are misguided…and so they are used in Israel’s long awaited campaign to destroy Islam and to dominate the world.”
In 1999, al-Masri sent Ujaama – and later Oussama Abdullah Kassir and Haroon Rashid Aswat – back to the U.S. to set up a terrorist training camp, according to court documents. In a fax to al-Masri, Ujaama wrote that a ranch in Bly should be turned into a jihad camp. With such training, Ujaama said, “the men in the community would have received enough familiarity with weapons…to fight jihad in Afghanistan.”
Ujaama has 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.”
Ujaama, born James Earnest Thompson, converted to Islam in the early 1990s, following the example of his younger brother, Mustafa Ujaama, and became involved in the now-defunct Dar-us-Salaam Mosque in Seattle.