An Ohio man who is an admitted member of al Qaeda has pleaded guilty to a federal terrorism charge and could spend 20 years in prison for the crime.
Christopher Paul, also known by several other aliases including Abdul Malek, entered a guilty plea to one count of "conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, namely explosives to be used as bombs" against U.S. citizens and property outside the United States, the plea agreement states.
Paul's involvement in terrorist activities reaches back almost 20 years, and includes overseas terror training, plots against Americans in the United States and abroad, and communication with terror cells around the world, according to his admissions in the statement of facts filed along with his plea.
He provided material support for terrorist by "committing jihad" -- attending training camps and providing equipment to be used as part of a conspiracy to kill or seriously injure people, the document says.
The statement of facts details Paul's involvement with terrorist activities, starting with trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early 1990s. At that time, al Qaeda recruited individuals for operations and trained thousands of mujahedeen in those countries.
When he arrived in Pakistan, Paul "stayed at the Beit Ul Ansar guest house, located in Peshawar, Pakistan." The facility was associated with al Qaeda, the document adds.
From there, Paul traveled to Afghanistan to train at a camp run by the terror group. The statement of facts notes that "The training included, but was not limited to, map reading, climbing, use of assault rifles, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, small unit tactics, and hand-to-hand combat."
Once Paul completed his introductory al Qaeda training, he moved to the Beit ur Salam guest house, "which was exclusively for al Qaeda members." At that point, Paul received advanced training, including instruction on "explosives and explosive devices." Upon completion, he joined the mujahedeen fight in Afghanistan.
"After fighting in Afghanistan, defendant returned to the United States for a period and began instructing individuals in martial arts at a mosque in Columbus, Ohio," the statement of facts says. Paul "also began recruiting and associating with individuals with jihadist intentions in order to establish a jihadist group in Columbus, Ohio."
Paul's activities continued, as he traveled in the Balkan region from 1993 to 1995 to participate in the wars in which Serbia was engaged in ethnic cleansing against Muslim populations in the former Yugoslavia. There, he established more contacts with Islamic fundamentalists and created "a master list of contact numbers for senior al Qaeda leadership and other radical Islamic fundamentalists and operatives world-wide," the statement says. The list also included information on bombs and detonators.
At the time of his indictment last year, investigators also said they discovered that Paul stored some materials at his own residence and stashed books on guerilla warfare and weapons-making, including a note on the al Farooq training camp in Afghanistan, at his father's house.
The 9/11 commission determined that at least seven of the 19 9/11 hijackers received some of their training at the camp.