Thursday, June 22, 2006


Profile: Africa's most-wanted terror suspect.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the man who the United States suspects is in Somalia, is one of the most wanted al-Qaeda suspects. He has been indicted by the US government for his alleged involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He is also thought to have masterminded the simultaneous attacks on the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa and a missile strike on an Israeli charter flight in 2002.

The FBI has put a $5m bounty on his head. Mr Mohammed is on the US Government's list of 26 "most wanted terrorists" and has a $5m bounty on his head. The US believes he is one of many "foreign terrorists" being given shelter in Somalia and has asked the Somali group that now controls Somalia's capital to hand him over - despite repeated denials from Union of Islamic Courts that it is not harbouring foreign Islamic fighters.

He first came to the attention of US investigators after the East Africa embassy attacks. He is thought to be in his early 30s and is said by the FBI to be a master at using aliases, having evaded the agency for years. He is thought to have headed home to the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean immediately after the attacks, but as FBI agents tried to trace him there, he boarded a plane to the Gulf and disappeared without trace. According to Ahmed Rajab, editor of the magazine Africa Analysis which has published reports on Mr Mohammed, the FBI says that during a search of Mr Mohammed's home, investigators found computers that contained evidence linking him to the al-Qaeda network. They also claim to have found a number of passports of different nationalities.

Mr Mohammed was born in the Comoros Islands in the early 1970s. He is thought to have attended school in Saudi Arabia. Little more is known about him until he surfaced in East Africa in the late 1990s. Since then, like many suspected al-Qaeda operatives, he has been able to exploit the region's lax law enforcement and porous borders to move around and avoid detection. According to reports, US agents believed they had tracked him down to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US. He was allegedly identified as one of a number of suspected al-Qaeda operatives to have set up base in Monrovia, as part of a plot to funnel diamonds and weapons through West Africa.

According to a report published in 2002 after a joint investigation by European intelligence agencies, the Pentagon planned to send a special forces team to Africa to snatch Mr Mohammed, but had to abandon the plot because his identity could not be confirmed. Before sightings by Kenya security operatives in Somalia, his last known whereabouts was on the island of Lamu off the north-eastern Kenyan coast where he was posing as a Muslim teacher, Ahmed Rajab says.
Mr Mohammed was said to have taken on a different name and got married there. The FBI's website says he speaks French, Swahili, Arabic, English and Comoran and describes him as a casual dresser.

"Mr Mohammed likes to wear baseball caps... He is very good with computers," his profile says.



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