The suspect is described as a "loner" who came to worship
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 27, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 11:18 a.m. HST, Oct 27, 2010
The Muslim Association of Hawaii said the man taken into custody this week on terrorism-related charges came to the Islamic Center of Hawaii to worship and that the association assisted law enforcement agencies in the case.
Association Chairman Hakim Ouansafi said Abdel Hameed Shehadeh was a "loner" who recently arrived from New York and was not a member of the association.
"He told us he did websites for a living. ... He did not tell us why he was here," Ouansafi said.
Ouansafi said his group does not condone terrorism and has in the past reported suspicious activities to authorities. Ouansafi said in the case of Shehadeh, the association made "great contributions" in assisting law enforcement agencies.
"These kinds of things are not tolerated," he said. "We do so knowing it is consistent with being a patriotic American and a devout Muslim."
FBI spokesman Tom Simon said the case is not about a terrorist plot against Hawaii nor any involvement by the local Muslim community.
Shehadeh, 21, a former resident of Staten Island, N.Y., registered as a freshman at Kapiolani Community College in August 2009, pursuing a liberal arts degree.
He was arrested Friday and held at the federal detention center pending extradition to New York.
The FBI in eastern New York filed a complaint Oct. 21 accusing Shehadeh of making false statements in matters involving terrorism between June 13, 2008, and Feb. 10, 2009.
The complaint stems from activities involving Shehadeh while he was a resident of Staten Island and allegedly devised a plan to travel to Pakistan to join the Taliban or a similar terrorist group.
On one aborted trip abroad, Shehadeh flew from New York to Arizona, then Honolulu and Maui in mid-April 2009 and later bought a ticket to travel from Maui to Dubai on June 15, with his stated destination as Mogadishu, Somalia.
But FBI officials said he had been placed on a no-fly list and was unable to board his flight.
Shehadeh visited the Swat Gun Club on Oahu and paid $115 to fire various firearms, including an M-16 assault rifle.