Feds Pop Alleged Al Qaeda Associate

Calif. man accused of lying about identity, alleged ties to al Qaeda leaders.

Feb. 20, 2009— -- The Justice Department has charged a California man for allegedly lying about his identity and immigration status, and failing to disclose that he has been associating with senior al Qaeda leaders.

According to a newly-released indictment, Ahmadullah Sais Niazi hid from U.S. immigration officials his association with his brother-in-law Dr. Amin al-Haq, who the indictment says is the security coordinator for Osama bin Laden, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another Islamic radical suspected of supporting "terrorists acts carried out by al Qaeda and the Taliban."

Niazi and his attorney were unreachable for comment.

The FBI learned last year that Niazi and his wife allegedly had used the Hawala system, unlicensed money transfers popular in the Middle East and Asia, to transfer money to Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case.

The affidavit also alleges that Niazi used 57 transfers to send $16,400 to family members in the two countries.

The FBI first interviewed Niazi in April 2008. In the weeks before the FBI first approached him, he allegedly communicated with al-Haq's sons, according to the affidavit.

The FBI is also looking into Niazi's associations within the United States, and trying to determine if he was sent here as an operative for al Qaeda.

The government also claims Niazi failed to disclose to immigration officials a trip to Pakistan in May 2004. The government claims the deception was part of an effort to illegally obtain U.S. citizenship.

According to a separate FBI affidavit in the case, Niazi attended the University of Malaysia from 1995 to 1998, and first came to the United States on a B-2 visitor visa in January 1998. He later applied to become a lawful permanent resident.

Justice Department officials said Niazi, an Afghan national, was arrested this week by the FBI at his home in Tustin, Calif.