When Terrorism Hits Home

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But now Di Roma said her plane had arrived later than he'd expected, by Stephanie's account, and escorted her to a room at an airport hotel. Di Roma sat on the bed opposite her, confided that he'd lost his own faith during a divorce and asked if she'd converted to Islam. She said no.

The agent then asked about her husband's prior marriages, she said, and suggested that he'd married her only because it could help him remain in the United States. Di Roma later testified that he had spoken with Stephanie in the hotel room until a. He denied that she'd asked to return to Corning that night. But a hotel receipt shows that Di Roma reserved the room before her plane landed. It later dawned on Stephanie that Di Roma had set things up so he could interview her when she was alone, tired and vulnerable - and so he could keep her from getting home and possibly hiding evidence before agents could search the next day.

Di Roma was not available for comment. Michael Mason , special agent in charge of the Sacramento FBI office, confirmed that the FBI had rented the room in advance in case and wanted her to stay there for "operational and logistical reasons. That morning, Di Roma and a female agent collected Stephanie at the hotel and drove her to Corning, where a dozen other FBI agents scoured the couple's condominium. Having finished that search, the agents drove to Mubarak's business, where for several more hours they pored over his bank statements, calling cards and flight records.

According to Stephanie, when all the other agents had finally left the shop she asked Di Roma where things stood:. Is that the profile of a terrorist? Di Roma stepped close and wiped her tears with his finger. You won't have any trouble finding another man.

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Two days later, Stephanie was at Mubarak's shop when Di Roma suddenly reappeared. He asked how she came to retain prominent San Francisco immigration lawyer Marc Van Der Hout for her husband, she recalled, and told her the attorney represented terrorists. Then he asked if she was having an extramarital affair, she said. Di Roma later acknowledged asking her about an affair, claiming that since it concerned the couple's relationship it was relevant to his investigation.

He denied making remarks about her lawyer and her appearance. Mason said Di Roma did not touch Stephanie's face or hug her. FBI agents handcuffed Mubarak, loaded him onto a private plane and flew him back from Dallas under high security. He was under arrest for being in the country on an expired visa. Prior to the Sept. Since then, the INS has swept up hundreds of Middle Eastern men for visa violations, Butterfield said, detaining them indefinitely while the FBI investigates them and ultimately deporting them.

The INS now revoked its decision releasing Mubarak on bond, even though he'd always appeared before the service as required. The INS claimed that if released, he might flee or threaten national security. The only basis cited by the service was Mubarak's "association with a person named Abdul Hakim Murad, who is currently in Federal custody following his conviction for terrorist activities. The Mubaraks were discovering that noncitizens have fewer constitutional rights than do citizens charged with a crime.

In criminal court, the government bears the burden of proving a defendant should be denied bond because they might flee or endanger society. But in immigration court, the judge would rule, immigrants must prove they pose no risk. Separated from wife and children, fearing the loss of his business, Mubarak challenged the INS decision to hold him without bond in a hearing that touched on the hopes, dreams and romantic lives of several Corning residents. But so many of Mubarak's supporters - neighbors, relatives and customers - attended that the judge switched to a larger room.

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Mubarak wore the red jumpsuit issued INS detainees being held at the Yuba County Jail to distinguish them from the orange suits worn by common criminals. Testifying first, he again traced his life, his love of flying and how he'd met Murad, taken flight lessons with him in the United States and had no contact with him since He denied any connection to terrorism and swore he'd cooperated fully with the FBI. But INS lawyers now said the results of his December polygraph test were "inconclusive.

He admitted he'd been behind on bills, incurred civil judgments and filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in an effort to "save my house. But Judge Gonzalez noted many citizens have financial woes, saying, "I - don't think the mere fact that someone filed for bankruptcy is indicative of lack of good moral character. Mubarak denied that he ever "had" or "did business" under a false business name.

He refused to answer further on advice of his lawyer, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The question, and his refusal, suggested he was clandestinely buying chemicals for evil ends. But the evidence showed only that he purchased paint stripper under another name because the local supplier would not sell to him after they'd had a dispute. An official at the chemical company said the chemicals listed on the receipt seized from him were for painting planes and were not explosive. Spaletta was just warming up. She asked if he'd ever applied for a U. Mubarak's lawyer asserted his right to remain silent.

But according to court records, agents had found at his home a letter Mubarak allegedly wrote to the state of Oregon, claiming he was born there and requesting a replacement birth certificate with his true name and birth date. They also found a affidavit stating he was born there. Van Der Hout, Mubarak's lead lawyer, later downplayed the importance of those records, saying it was common for otherwise honest immigrants to obtain false residency papers.

The INS was revoking its recent finding that his marriage to Stephanie was a valid basis for his application to become a legal resident. Automne Rene Burton met Mubarak on Sept. At the time, Burton was an year-old cashier at Burger King, living with her mother in Red Bluff along with her grandmother, her two sisters, her nephew and her own 3-year-old daughter. Burton testified that she met Mubarak when a mutual friend invited her to fly with him and Mubarak from Red Bluff to Oakland on a double date. The next day, the mutual friend said Mubarak would pay her to marry him so he could stay in the country and -wouldn't have to leave behind his son.

So that night, Sept. Burton claimed Mubarak never gave her the money or the education - only a car that soon broke down. She also testified that she and Mubarak never lived together or even kissed.


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But she admitted she had previously signed a statement saying she lived with Mubarak for "about one year. The marriage had upset Jeanne Ann Burton , her mother, who testified, "I thought I had raised my kids to marry for love, not convenience. Mubarak denied engaging in marriage fraud. At another point in the hearing, INS attorney Spaletta asked Stephanie if she had known about the alleged marriage fraud.

Stephanie said no. By now, the Mubaraks understood that the Justice Department was attempting to use immigration laws, which until recently had been applied more leniently, to force Mubarak out of the country. But they remained determined to fight his deportation and save their life in America. After court sessions, they met in the INS visiting room, each gazing at the other through the bulletproof plexiglass that separated them, clutching a telephone receiver in one hand, pressing their free palms toward each other.

Their lawyer, Van Der Hout, meanwhile complained that the allegations of marriage fraud had nothing to do with terrorism. And as the hearings stretched into July, the frustrated lawyer told the judge, "Mr. Mubarak has been The government has yet to put on any evidence of terrorism. FBI counterterrorism agent Di Roma had been investigating Mubarak for eight weeks when he finally took the stand on July He presented a dark view of certain evidence seized from Mubarak's home. The story quoted Mubarak saying, "If you are as committed as I am, nothing is too hard or too grueling.

It -wasn't really a solo effort. My family was there for me. Mubarak already had told the FBI and the court that he'd given the article to the U. Embassy in Dubai when he applied for a student visa.


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But Di Roma pointed out that the magazine contained a photo of Mubarak and Murad with the caption, "High fliers Nassar sic and his flying mate Abdul Hakeem sic. Di Roma noted that the article said the two men were planning a flight from the United Arab Emirates to Karachi, Pakistan, in November , just before they came to the United States.

Karachi, the agent said, was where Ramzi Yousef had planned terrorist attacks. And November was a significant time,. Di Roma also testified that several snapshots found in a photo album at Mubarak's home supported his contention that Mubarak had visited New York and Washington to select terrorism targets in or A few other photos showed the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center, which Di Roma described as "the building that no longer exists.

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The FBI agent concluded that the later photos were taken from a small plane passing by the landmarks. They were significant, he said, because they showed "possible targets of terrorist activity. But the record is not that clear. He'd testified that he had gone to the Air Space Museum. In any event, Van Der Hout said, the trips and the photographs hardly amounted to reconnaissance work for a terrorist attack. Stephanie recalled that Mubarak had given her the photos when they moved in together and she'd jumbled them with other snapshots of flowers and friends.

Di Roma went on to imply that Mubarak had continued to operate as an undercover terrorist. He testified that Mubarak had been involved in unusual activity at the Corning airport after dark. A source had told him Mubarak did "a great deal of night flying. In the months before Mubarak's arrest, relations between him and Carpenter's clique at the Corning Airport had deteriorated, according to the Mubaraks.

Jerry Rindahl made a habit of slowly driving past Mubarak's shop and staring in, they said, and Mubarak once yelled at him, "What's the matter, old man, do you need new glasses? After Mubarak's arrest, Rindahl told Di Roma that Mubarak had been giving flight lessons to "young Arabs" and flying at night with "unknown Arab- appearing men. That morning's newspapers reported that police in Spain had seized a videotape from al Qaeda suspects showing what officers called potential targets, including the Golden Gate Bridge.

Carpenter happened to read the story, Di Roma said, and recalled that someone had told him Stephanie once said she and Mubarak had flown from Corning to the Golden Gate Bridge "in order to time the flight. Stephanie said she and Mubarak never flew to the Golden Gate Bridge, and called the night flying allegations false. Mubarak is of great interest to the FBI because of his intimate contacts with Murad ," the agent testified. Mubarak is not going to commit any acts of terrorism. But Di Roma acknowledged that he had not examined the contents of a computer containing terror plots that was seized from Murad's apartment in to check for references to Mubarak.

As he explained, "I -don't know that it would reveal anything relevant to the possibility sic that Mr. Mubarak was involved in target selection of the World Trade Center, which was revealed in the photos I found in his home. Di Roma disclosed that the FBI had conducted an intelligence investigation of Mubarak in based on what Murad had told the bureau. The case was classified and he did have access to it. But had that investigation uncovered evidence Mubarak was involved in terrorism or other crimes, he added, the information would have been turned over for criminal prosecution. After the long and costly hearings, Van Der Hout had advised Mubarak that he believed the department had no evidence he was involved in terrorism or had any contact with Murad after Mubarak had simply had the misfortune of having known someone later found to be a terrorist.

But he also told his client that even if the court granted him release on bond, the Immigration and Naturalization Service - under a rule issued by Attorney General Ashcroft a month after the World Trade Center attacks - could automatically stay his release pending an appeal that could take months. The lawyer said that the INS was meanwhile moving to block his application for permanent residency based on the marriage-fraud allegations. Monash University Library.

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Australian Federal Police. His body was discovered in a mountain gully a month later. The family was still under threat when Ybarra was born in , and throughout her childhood — a bomb arrived in the post at their Madrid apartment in — but nobody ever talked about it. Instead of talking to her relatives, Ybarra trawled through newspaper archives for answers that would help her understand her family history — where she came from and who she was. I just want the book to work by itself. The story of the book belongs to the book and real life is something different.

It opened a new channel of communication that had been blocked.