Atlanta Terrorism Case Shows Global Reach of Potential Plots

Counterterrorism officials were finally able to close in on Tsouli days after Bosnian authorities disrupted a terrorism cell there where the suspects were caught with explosives and martyrdom messages they had recorded to send to Tsouli.

Tsouli and two other accomplices pleaded guilty in the UK in 2007 to charges of inciting terrorism on the Internet; he was sentenced to 16 years in prison and is currently imprisoned in the UK's maximum security prison in Belmarsh.

At a September 2007 speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III described the links between the cases: "While examining his computer, authorities discovered the surveillance videos of the Washington targets that had been filmed by the two subjects from Atlanta. Investigators also found that Tsouli had been in steady communication with the plotters in Canada , Denmark , Bosnia , and the United States….He used his computer skills to develop a global virtual network for terrorists and their supporters. And it took a global network of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to unravel these disparate plots and bring those responsible to justice."

Casing Videos of Washington, DC

According to the indictment, during the summer of 2005, Ahmed traveled to Pakistan for the purpose of "obtaining paramilitary training and ultimately engaging in Jihad in Kashmir or elsewhere, including the United States if so requested."

At this time Sadequee traveled to Bangladesh to get married but federal law enforcement officials and the indictment allege that he carried with him the casing videos of the Washington, DC area. FBI agents found the videos in a secret compartment in his suitcase along with local maps of the DC area. Ahmed returned to the U.S. after failing to join a madrasa in Pakistan or find paramilitary training, but he kept in touch with his cousins in Toledo, Ohio.

In that case Ahmed communicated with his distant cousins Zubair Ahmed and Khaleel Ahmed, who have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight U.S. soldiers there. The indictment in the case alleged that Zubair Ahmed and Syed Haris had several phone calls in late 2004 and 2005 and discussed their need to prepare "the final war of Islam." The FBI monitored the case for some time before arresting Zubair and Khaleel in February 2007. They pleaded guilty in January 2009 and are currently awaiting sentencing.

Shortly after Ahmed was arrested in the United States on March 23, 2006 Sadequee was arrested in Bangladesh by their security services and the FBI in late April 2006. With the clock ticking and word of their arrests spreading in early June 2006, Canadian authorities arrested 17 individuals who were associated with the group that Ahmed and Sadequee had met.

Sending the videos to Tsouli may be the most relevant part of the government's charges of supporting terrorists in the case.

At opening statements yesterday, Ahmed's Attorney Jack Martin maintained his client's innocence and, according to the Associated Press, told Judge Bill Duffey, "We have an equally important responsibly to sort out the real terrorist from those who are childish, those who ever sought out a real conspiracy."

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