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Published: Thursday, 4/12/2007

Columbus man charged with joining al-Qaeda, alleged bomb plot

ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS - A federal grand jury indicted a U.S. citizen on charges of joining al-Qaeda and conspiring to bomb European tourist resorts and U.S. government facilities and military bases overseas.

Christopher Paul, 43, of Columbus, trained with al-Qaeda in the early 1990s, the indictment issued Wednesday says. The indictment says he told al-Qaeda members in Pakistan and Afghanistan that he was dedicated to committing violent jihad.

Paul is charged with providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Fred Alverson, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Columbus, said today that he couldn't comment further on the case.

Paul was in the Franklin County Jail late Wednesday after a U.S. District Court hearing was postponed until his attorney, Don Wolery, could be present. Wolery did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday morning.

The indictment says Paul traveled to Germany about April 1999 to train co-conspirators to use explosives to attack European and U.S. targets, including government buildings and vacation spots frequented by American tourists.

It does not address specific resorts or buildings that might have been targeted, but it gives U.S. embassies, military bases and consular premises in Europe as examples.

Paul later sent a wire transfer of $1,760 from a financial institution in the U.S. to an alleged co-conspirator in Germany, prosecutors allege.

A fax machine in his home contained names, phone numbers and contact information for key al-Qaeda leadership and associates, according to the indictment.

Paul also is accused of storing material at his father's house in Columbus, including a book on improvised land mines, money from countries in the Middle East and a letter to his parents explaining that he would be ''on the front lines,'' according to the indictment.

His sister, Sandra Laws, answered the door at the home and said she and her father live there. She said the family will be speaking to Paul's attorney later and declined further comment.

Paul was born Paul Kenyatta Laws. He legally changed his name to Abdulmalek Kenyatta in 1989, then to Christopher Paul in 1994, according to the indictment.

After finishing his al-Qaeda training in the early 1990s, he returned to Columbus to teach martial arts at a mosque, the indictment said.

Two other Columbus men have been charged in federal investigators' terrorism investigation. Iyman Faris was sentenced in 2003 to 20 years in prison for a plot to topple the Brooklyn Bridge. Nuradin Abdi, accused of plotting to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, is awaiting trial on charges including conspiring to aid terrorists.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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