Tuesday, December 18, 2012
By Brendan Kirby
An FBI affidavit links terrorism defendant Randy "Rasheed" Wilson, left, with Daphne-born jihadist Omar Hammami. But an FBI agent acknowledged on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, that the affidavit was wrong to say that the pair lived together.
MOBILE, Alabama – Contrary to an FBI affidavit, terrorism defendant Randy “Rasheed” Wilson is not a former roommate of Daphne-born jihadist Omar Shafik Hammami, an agent testified today in federal court.
The criminal complaint that forms the basis of charges against Wilson indicates that the defendant met Hammami in 2002 and lived with him in Mobile from May of that year through December 2004.
FBI Special Agent Tim Green acknowledged this afternoon in testimony that that piece of information is incorrect. He said he is not certain where it came from.
Although Wilson and Hammami were not roommates, defense attorney Dom Soto said in an interview that the pair did know each other before the Daphne native joined an al-Qaida-linked terrorism group in the African nation of Somalia.
“It’s not really a large Muslim community here,” he said.
The detail has no bearing on the charges – that Wilson and co-defendant Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair plotted to give material aid and support to Islamic terrorists in Africa. But Soto said it highlights the inherent danger of relying too heavily on an affidavit prepared by law enforcement investigators.
Those documents often contain information that turns out not to be true under the scrutiny of a trial, he said.
“An affidavit is based on what people say,” he said.
From today’s hearing, after which U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine “Kit” Nelson decided to order Wilson detained pending trial, details began to emerge of Wilson’s conversion to Islam.
The defendant’s grandmother, Jeanna Weaver, testified that Wilson was born in Mobile and later moved with his family to Birmingham, where he attended an Islamic school. She said Wilson’s mother had battled drug addiction.
Soto said his client’s mother, when he was 4 or 5 years old, married an Egyptian man and converted to Islam along with her children. Though the couple no longer is married, the family remained Muslim, and Soto said Wilson is close to his stepfather.
Weaver testified that her grandson moved back to the Mobile area and attended middle school in Semmes.
Weaver said her grandson began to take his Islamic faith more seriously about 10 years ago. She said he speaks Arabic and reads the Koran.
“When he became a Muslin, he was truly a Muslim,” said Weaver, who remains a Christian.
She said he is very close to his two young children, one whom is a “special needs” kid.
“He’s never been in trouble. He’s a nice kid,” she said.
Weaver also testified that she financed a fragrance store that Wilson opened with Abukhdair.
“He researched it and thought it was a good idea,” she said.
The FBI affidavit, however, describes the store as a front designed to throw the FBI off their trail.
Weaver said she did not know anything about that. “I wanted to help him so he could take care of his family,” she said.