A federal grand jury has indicted a London-based Algerian on charges of conspiring to bomb Los Angeles International Airport as part of a plot by a terrorism network run by international fugitive Osama bin Laden.
The indictment, handed up Monday in U.S. District Court in New York, named Haydar Abu Doha on charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction to blow up the airport during planned millennium celebrations ushering in the year 2000.
Mr. Abu Doha, 36, is in custody in London, awaiting extradition to the United States.
According to the indictment, unsealed yesterday, Mr. Abu Doha was a key player in a terrorism network known as al-Qaeda, which U.S. authorities have said is led and financed by bin Laden. The indictment said he met with the fugitive terrorist in 1998 "to discuss cooperation and coordination between al-Qaeda and a group of Algerian terrorists whose activities Abu Doha coordinated and oversaw."
Mr. Abu Doha's name first surfaced during the New York trial of Montreal shopkeeper Mokhtar Haouari, found guilty earlier this year of providing support to Ahmed Ressam, a member of Mr. Abu Doha's suspected Algerian terrorist cell.
Haouari, 32, was convicted of supplying Ressam with a fake driver's license and $3,000 in cash to carry out the airport attack. The plan was foiled when Ressam was caught by U.S. Customs Service agents trying to enter Washington state from Canada in a car loaded with explosive chemicals and timing devices.
In court testimony, Ressam named Mr. Abu Doha as one of his contacts in the Los Angeles airport bomb plot. U.S. authorities said Ressam told investigators he received "instruction" from Mr. Abu Doha while preparing the foiled attack.
When arrested on Dec. 14, 1999, Ressam had a business card with Mr. Abu Doha's telephone number in London and calling cards that showed he had called the number as recently as 11 days earlier.
In February, police in London detained 11 men most of them Algerians on terrorism, fraud and forgery charges, including Mr. Abu Doha and Mustafa Labsi, a former roommate of Ressam in Montreal.
After his arrest in London, British authorities seized from Mr. Abu Doha's apartment 200 propaganda videocassettes about the war in Chechnya, 100 black berets, a telescopic rifle sight and blank Italian, French and Spanish passports, according to an inventory prepared by Scotland Yard.
They also confiscated a credit-card-duplicating machine, laminating equipment, 20 credit cards, a series of passport photos depicting Mr. Abu Doha in various guises and a large amount of cash in British pounds and Spanish pesetas.
Even before Ressam's public testimony linking Mr. Abu Doha to the Los Angeles bomb plot, European intelligence sources also had confirmed that the London-based Algerian was in regular contact with one of bin Laden's chief lieutenants, Abu Jaffar, in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.
Bin Laden, now believed to be in Afghanistan, is a self-proclaimed international terrorist who is sought in the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 persons, including 12 Americans.
The 42-year-old fugitive Saudi millionaire was indicted in November by a federal grand jury in New York in the simultaneous explosions Aug. 7, 1998, at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Earlier this year, a jury in New York convicted four followers of bin Laden in connection with the 1998 embassy bombings.
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