Judge holds Afghan native without bond for another week

FBI is analyzing material found in city apartment

October 01, 2002|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A federal immigration judge ordered an Afghan native held without bond for another week yesterday while an FBI terrorism task force investigates a circle of Middle Eastern men arrested Sept. 10 in a Northwest Baltimore apartment.

Department of Justice Judge Lisa Dornell refused a government lawyer's request that Khoshal Wahid Nasery, 24, be held in Immigration and Naturalization Service custody for at least two more weeks. A bond hearing was set for Monday.

Yesterday's hearing at the Fallon Federal Building provided fresh information about the federal investigation in an affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Philip A. Phillips.

The address in the 3600 block of Labyrinth Road, where several of the men lived, contained material that caused the FBI to launch an investigation, according to the affidavit.

The items included photographs of Union Station in Washington and Times Square in New York, computer links to regional airports in Maryland and pilot training, receipts for wire transfers of large sums of money to Morocco, cellular telephones and writings in Arabic and English that appeared to be related to jihad, an Arabic term for holy war, the affidavit said.

"Some of the handwritten material contains what the translator has described as radical fundamentalist rhetoric," the FBI affidavit said.

The FBI is analyzing the hard drives of two computers found in the apartment and translating the information from Arabic into English, the affidavit stated. It also noted that the electronic equipment seized was among the few large possessions in the apartment. "Very little furnishings were present," the FBI affidavit said.

Barry A. Maddox, an FBI spokesman, said yesterday that the FBI is continuing its investigation of the men for possible terrorist links.

Sameer Ashar, Nasery's lawyer, said his client's detention was unconstitutional. Ashar moved to terminate the case. The English-speaking Nasery appeared via teleconference but spoke little.

Abid Hussain, representing the Islamic Society of Baltimore, offered to find Nasery housing if he were released on bail.

Ashar said the arrests were a result of the war on terrorism.

"This is racial and religious profiling," said Ashar, a law professor at the University of Maryland, who is representing Nasery pro bono. "The government is pursuing innocent people."

Ashar said Nasery poses no threat to national security, does not know how to read Arabic and does not own either computer found by the FBI. He suggested that one computer belonged to a Somali native arrested with Nasery. That man is being deported to Somalia.

Three other men arrested and detained during the Sept. 10 raid -- Choudry Jamil Khan of Pakistan, Reza Zazai, an Afghan native, and Unsir Hafeez, a Canadian citizen born in Pakistan -- will come before Dornell on Monday for bond hearings. Last week, the judge ordered each of them held without bond until Oct. 7 to give the FBI more time to pursue its investigation.

Nasery, who said he entered the country on a Greyhound bus from a town near Ottawa nearly two years ago, petitioned Dornell yesterday for permission to voluntarily return to Canada. A hearing on his request is scheduled for Oct. 10.

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