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January 14, 2004

Benevolence-Linked Palestinian Charged in Florida

Adham Hassoun, who opened a South Florida office of the Benevolence International Foundation, has been charged with illegally possessing a firearm, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Federal authorities previously linked Hassoun to Jose Padilla, an alleged al Qaeda "dirty bomber" currently being held as an enemy combatant by the federal government. According to some published reports, authorities suspected that Hassoun may have been involved in Padilla's conversion to Islam.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, in a separate proceeding "Immigration Judge Neale Foster found Hassoun participated in an assassination plot, recruited a "jihad fighter," donated money to charities under investigation for possible links to terrorism and belonged to an international terrorist organization called Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, according to Hassoun's petition for release to a federal district judge. That petition was denied."

Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, also known as the Islamic Group, was led by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of a New York City-based al Qaeda cell. One member of that cell, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, recruited U.S. military veterans for al Qaeda, as reported in an investigative report exclusive to Intelwire. The al Qaeda recruitment plot corresponds closely to the movements of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in key time frames.

McVeigh traveled to South Florida in January 1993 and stayed through March, visiting with his sister in Plantation, FL, about 20 minutes from the Benevolence office, according to evidence presented at his trial. He sold merchandise at two local gun shows during that period. Hassoun signed a lease for the Benevolence office during the same period.

During the planning and execution of the OKCBOMB plot, McVeigh and Terry Nichols both traveled in and around Chicago, where the Benevolence International Foundation was based in from mid-1993 on. Padilla had a son in Chicago, where he had been raised. Nichols traveled through Illinois on the way to a gun show just days before the first sightings of John Doe 2, according to testimony and evidence at his and McVeigh's trial.

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