Why do Muslims hate Americans?Nuradin Abdi smiled and laughed with his attorney before admitting in a federal court yesterday that he had worked with terrorists to help plot against the United States.
Abdi, who wanted to blow up a mall in the Columbus area, is expected to serve 10 years in prison and be deported to his native Somalia.
His conviction, though, could be a sign that there are others still to be named as members of the same terrorist cell.
Details brought to light yesterday show that the terror cell was bigger than a trio of local men possibly involved in it -- Abdi, convicted terrorist Iyman Faris and Worthington native Christopher Paul -- previously reported.
Documents filed yesterday in Abdi's plea state there was at least one other terrorist that Abdi and Paul met with here and in Pittsburgh.
And after the plea, government officials acknowledged for the first time that other indictments of possible terrorists who were part of the cell are likely.
"I wouldn't be surprised," Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana Peters said.
Peters and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn Jones Hahnert would not comment on how many are believed to have operated out of the Columbus area.
"Some have left the country," others are in prison on other charges, Peters said. "The investigation continues."
Federal Judge Algenon Marbley likely will sentence Abdi, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to support terrorists, in a few months. Abdi's trial was scheduled to start Monday. But he pleaded within hours of his family receiving a phone call that there could be a change.
"It's better to minimize his losses," defense attorney Mahir Sherif said. A fair trial here would not be possible because Americans "have no or limited understanding" of why Muslims are angry, Sherif said.
The terrorism plot was little more than rants by three Muslims who were angry with the Iraqi war and problems in Afghanistan, he said.
"There was nothing they were going to carry out," Sherif said.
But prosecutors say that was only because they were stopped.
Abdi, 35, of the North Side, was indicted on four counts -- two of conspiring to help terrorists and two of lying or forging paperwork to get U.S. travel documents.
As part of the plea agreement, the other three charges were dropped.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, it would have been unlikely for Abdi to get the maximum 80-year sentence even if convicted on all four counts, prosecutors said.
What Abdi was planning were not idle rants, as the defense claimed, but "significant public-safety threats," Peters said.
In court, Abdi admitted he traveled to Kenya and Somalia in 2000 in hopes of attending terrorist-training camps. The camp in Kenya, though, no longer existed, and Abdi told federal agents he couldn't find the camp in Somalia.
A year later, he stole credit-card numbers from a cell-phone store where he worked and gave them to Paul.
Paul wanted to use the credit-card numbers to buy laptop computers for Muslims fighting the "holy war" in Afghanistan, Abdi told agents.
Abdi also knew that Paul was gathering equipment to send overseas, including a scanner to make false passports.
"It goes beyond hot air when steps are taken in preparation. You don't wait for the fuse to be lit," Peters said of arresting Abdi before he chose which local mall to target. In addition, prosecutors noted, Faris -- who is serving a 20-year sentence for his involvement with the group -- worked with others in Virginia who wanted to conduct simultaneous missile attacks on the Capitol, Pentagon and White House.
Abdi's plea does not affect the case against Paul, the only American-born member of the cell who is scheduled for trial in January 2009, Hahnert said.
After the plea, Sherif said the case should prompt people to ask: Why do Muslims hate Americans?
"I'm angry. If 1 million Americans were being slaughtered, that would be a different issue," Sherif said, of Iraqis killed in the war.
But I have always heard they don't.
"It is the government they dislike...nothing against the people."
Which is is boys? either you hate the people, the government or both.
Just don't piss down our backs and tell us it's raining.
who cares? do people really think that if Americans "understood", that we would then be ok with people blowing up congested malls?because Americans "have no or limited understanding" of why Muslims are angry, Sherif said.
That's like saying if we took the time to understand Mcvie, then maybe we could sympathize with him and not be so angry about the bombing in Oklahoma.