Eagle Managing Editor
As former Macomb resident and accused al Quaida sleeper agent Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri faces a federal trial that's predicted to last more than a year and shape legal bindings of future suspected terrorists, national media networks are taking a second look at al-Marri's path to infamy.
According to the Washington Post, the FBI believes a small part More.. of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were planned on a laptop computer during the summer of 2001 in room 209 of the Time Out Motel at North Lafayette Street and University Drive. The property has since been turned into apartments.
In most news reports about al-Marri's past, Macomb is referred to assimply "a small town in the Midwest."
Al-Marri previously attended Spoon River College under the alias Abdullakareem Almuslam. He was reportedly back in town after training with AlQaida operatives in Afghanistan directly under Osama Bin Laden.
He was also attempting to get back into school. He had registered for English classes at WIU but administrators allegedly refused his admittance, calling his behavior strange and noting he refused to sign his name.
An affidavit that was declassified in 2005 says al-Marri also used computers in WIU's Malpass Library to register five e-mail addresses. At least one of the accounts exchanged communications with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the man who admitted planning the Sept. 11 attacks.
Virtually no one still living in Macomb has any recollection of coming into contact with al-Marri. The WIU administrators have moved on and only report remembering him as speaking English well.
The managers and employees who rented his room at the Time Out Motel have also left town, but previously reported he was a quiet tenant, was always on his computer and would only complain when the Internet was not working.
The Islamic Center of Macomb said al-Marri never attended services there and they never had contact with him. A former member of the center's congregation did give al-Marri a ride to the Peoria airport as the suspected terrorist was taking a trip to New York.
The Federal affidavit also notes al-Marri was a patient of a local eye doctor, but calls to Macomb optometrists failed to identify which one.
Al-Marri was not a quiet, harmless citizen though. He opened three fraudulent bank accounts in Macomb with a fake Social Security number under the non-existent business name, AAA Carpet.
That charge, along with a decade old driving under the influence of alcohol warrant, is what allowed authorities to arrest al-Marri in December 2001 in Peoria. His detention began after an FBI informant listed him as a member of the team that would conduct al Qaida's massive follow-up attack to 9/11.
At the time, the FBI says al-Marri was working on a master's degree at Bradley University. On the computer al-Marri used in Macomb,authorities found thousands of credit card numbers, oaths calling for protection of Osama Bin Laden and lists of terrorist supported Web sites.
He was also the first to be officially named an enemy combatant by President George W. Bush. Since then he has been held in solitary confinement in a South Carolina Naval brig, only able to speak with his legal counsel.
However, reports say the leash has been loosened on the
accused sleeper agent as his trial is starting. Authorities are now allowing him contact with his family.
Reports say al-Marri has been seen smiling and joking with his legal counsel and appears to be happy about being allowed to leave his cell for the first time in seven years.
In a statement, attorney Andrew Savage said he believes the trial will result in al-Marri returning to his native Qatar to be with his family.
The 43-year old detainee is expected to be extradited back to Peoria to face federal charges as a civilian. That date has not been set.
Click to view image: 'Ali al-Marri'
In: Afghanistan, News
Tags: WIU, Macomb, Illinois, Jihad, Islam, Muslim, 9/11, al-Marri, Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi, SIMI, Students Islamic Movement of India, Western Illinois University, Mujahideen, Terrorist, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Qatar, al Qaida, Osama Bin Laden, Sleeper Cell
Location: Macomb, Illinois, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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