January 11, 2004
Al Qaeda Recruited U.S. Servicemen: Testimony Links Plot To Saudi Gov't
The Saudi government funded a program to convert Gulf War servicemen to Islam, then the cleric in charge of the program gave al Qaeda the names of U.S. veterans to recruit as mujahideen fighters and paramilitary trainers.
In December 1992, an al Qaeda operative was summoned to a meeting at the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., according to testimony presented at his trial. He was introduced to a member of the royal family, he testified, then taken to another room where he was instructed to recruit fighters and trainers for an al Qaeda-linked insurgency in Bosnia.
U.S.-born al Qaeda operative Clement Rodney Hampton-El said he was told that he would have a budget of $150,000 for the effort. The day after the embassy meeting, he attended what he called an "Islamic conference" at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he said he was given a recruiting list of servicemen about to end their tours of duty.
Bilal Philips was a Saudi-trained cleric who provided the instructions and contact list, according to Hampton-El's testimony during his 1995 trial. Beginning in March 1991, Philips ran a tent revival program as an official of the Saudi Air Force, which according to Philips converted between as many 3,000 U.S. soldiers to Islam while they were stationed in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf war.
KEYWORDS: Saudi Arabia, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, Brooklyn, Bilal Philips, Gulf War, veterans, World Trade Center, U.S. Army, Fort Belvoir, Islamic, Abu Sayyaf Group, Osama bin Laden, IIRO, Ramzi Yousef, 9/11, September 11, al Qaeda, al Qa'ida, Manila, Philippines, Timothy McVeigh, Kenya, ammonium nitrate, FBI, State Department
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