From Jeanne Meserve
Tuesday, November 9, 2004 Posted: 7:32 PM EST (0032 GMT)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) — An American college student has been arrested and charged with providing material support to a Somali group that has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
U.S. authorities allege that Mark Robert Walker, 18, told a federal law enforcement agent that he wanted to travel to Somalia to fight for an Islamic government, and that he was planning to buy and send night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests to fighters for the group Ittihad Al Islamiya.
One U.S. government official described Walker, whose home address is in Rochester, New York, as a «kid that was kind of lost and was looking for some attention.» The official added, «there is no indication that he is affiliated with any terrorist group,» but that he wanted to join the cause.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney in El Paso, Texas, Walker is a student at Wyoming Technical College in Laramie.
A roommate gave Walker’s name to law enforcement after discovering Walker had been using his computer to try to fund and equip overseas terrorist groups. The complaint alleges that on October 28, after the roommate confronted Walker about his activities, Walker fled.
The complaint says another FBI source reported that Walker was an administrator for a jihadist Web site on which he communicated with a man named «Khalid» about equipping the Somali Islamic group, and obtaining false travel documents to go wage jihad with them.
The complaint alleges that in a communication on the Web site, Walker wrote, «I hate the U.S. gov’t, I wish I could have been flying one of the plane on Sept. 11.»
The source told the FBI that Walker, who was then in Mexico, had set up a meeting with «Khalid» at the El Paso airport.
Walker was also known as «Abdullah,» the complaint says.
According to Customs and Border Protection officials, CBP agents were alerted that Walker might be coming across the border, and they arrested him Saturday morning at the Paso Del Norte crossing in El Paso. He was carrying more than $2,000 in cash.
The complaint alleges that Walker told federal agents he intended to use the money to buy night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests and take them to Somalia for the fighters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI El Paso Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday in El Paso.
From Jeanne Meserve