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Taliban Sympathizer Arrested in Pittsburgh!

Interesting Article: "Feds: Wilkinsburg man aspires to martyrdom with Taliban" by Brian Bowling / Pittsburgh Published Saturday, March 17th, 2012

An interesting article a Wilkinsburg man arrested on a federal weapons charge this week is a Taliban sympathizer who aspired to martyrdom, a federal agent told a U.S. magistrate on Friday. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh charged Khalifa Ali Al-Akili, 34, with being a convicted felon with a firearm. An affidavit filed in the case says the charge is based on a 7-second video showing Al-Akili at a gun range holding a .22 caliber rifle with a box of ammunition next to him. Would you like to know more?

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell ordered Al-Akili held without bail after FBI Special Agent Joseph Bieshelt testified that Al-Akili told an FBI informant that he planned to move to Pakistan and join the resistance movement, WPXI-TV said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Wilson said agents found jihadist literature and books on U.S. military strategy when they searched Al-Akili's apartment, WPXI said. The gun video was apparently posted to YouTube at one time but has since been taken down. A July 4, 2010, email from an acquaintance of Al-Akili asking about the video had a picture attached that showed Al-Akili with the rifle, according to the affidavit filed by Jonathan Neely, a federal air marshal.

Al-Akili was formerly known as James Marvin Thomas Jr., and he pleaded guilty in 2001 to two felony drug charges, according to court records. He has convictions for drug, retail theft, simple assault and resisting arrest charges, court records state.

Mitchell's order says that he denied bail because Al-Akili has an extensive criminal history, including repeated crimes committed while he was on parole or out on bond, that he has repeatedly fled from law enforcement officers and that he's a flight risk because he's marginally employed and married to a woman from Somalia who is a citizen of the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately, the arrest of the Pittsburgh man described as a Taliban sympathizer has sparked allegations that the FBI deployed a notorious confidential informant used in previous controversial stings on suspected Muslim radicals. In a strange twist, al-Akili's arrest came just days after he had sent out an email to friends and local Muslim civil rights groups complaining that he believed he was the target of an FBI "entrapment" sting. That refers to a controversial FBI tactic of using confidential informants – who often have criminal records or are paid large sums of money – to facilitate "fake" terrorist plots for suspects to invent or carry out. In the email – which was also sent to the Guardian before al-Akili was arrested – he detailed meeting two men he believed were FBI informants because of the way they talked about radical Islam and appeared to want to get him to make jihadist statements. According to his account, one of them, who called himself Saeed Torres, asked him to buy a gun. Al-Aikili said he refused. The other, who was called Mohammed, offered to help him go to Pakistan for possible Islamic radical training. Al-Akili also refused.

In the email al-Akili recounted that he obtained a phone number from Mohammed and put it into Google. The search returned a reference to the case of the Newburgh Four, where an FBI confidential informant called Shahed Hussain helped secure the convictions of four men for attempting to blow up Jewish targets in the Bronx.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment on whether the agency had been using Shahed Hussain as a confidential informant in Pittsburgh.




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