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Terror suspect was ‘polite, friendly’


A man arrested for allegedly lying to FBI agents about his terrorism-related travel plans sought to become a member of a neighborhood watch group in Manoa while living in Hawaii for more than a year.

But Abdel Hameed Shehadeh was never accepted into the group because his application was incomplete, according to neighborhood watch coordinator Peter Kobayashi.

Shehadeh, 21, held in New York without bail, is charged with making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism and hiding his intent to go to Pakistan to join a fighting group such as the Taliban in 2008. The complaint also alleges Shehadeh attempted to recruit another person to join him.

No date has been set for a court hearing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern New York said yesterday.

Kobayashi said as far as residents could tell, Shehadeh lived by himself in a house at 3363 Huelani Drive.

Residents said they wondered who was paying his bills, since he said he was a student and the house rent was probably close to $3,000 a month.

Grant Merritt, a neighborhood block captain of Huelani Drive, said Shehadeh indicated he wanted to join the group and gave his cell phone number and mailing address, but Kobayashi wanted a residence address before processing the application.

Residents said neighborhood watch members were wary of strangers because of car break-ins and thefts.

Merritt said he was surprised when he heard the reason for Shehadeh’s arrest.

"You figure drugs, OK, but terrorism? That’s a new one," Merritt said.

Merritt said when Shehadeh moved into the house more than a year ago, he said he was going to school online to learn Web design.

Merritt said Shehadeh told him a few months ago he was going to Kapiolani Community College.

"He was friendly," Merritt said. "He was always polite."

Shehadeh said he was creating a website for a company involved in deep-sea fishing and that the house was for the employees and the boss, Merritt said.

But when Merritt asked whether Shehadeh had a boat and captain, he said, "No."

"That was sort of strange," Merritt said.

Merritt said he later saw Shehadeh with a man in his 50s or 60s, with a beard, who wore traditional mid-Eastern clothes.

"I asked him, who was the old guy?" Merritt said. "He said, ‘Oh, that’s my pa.’"


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