Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Brother insists Ohio suspect hated terror

By Carrie Spencer
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A Somali national charged with plotting to blow up a mall loved the freedom he found in the United States and never spoke badly against the country, his brother said Monday.

"He really hated terrorists," Mohamed AbdiKarani, 17, said. "You know how (President) Bush hates terrorists? I think he hates them more."

His brother, Nuradin Abdi, 32, is charged with conspiring with admitted al-Qaida member Iyman Faris and others to detonate a bomb at the unidentified Columbus-area shopping mall after he obtained military-style training in Ethiopia.

Faris, a Pakistani native who moved to Columbus in the 1990s, was accused of plotting to cut through the cables that support New York's Brooklyn Bridge. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year.

Abdi was friends with Faris through the mosque they attended, and his family was surprised at Faris' arrest, AbdiKarani said.

"Every person he's seen, he made them a friend right away," he said of his brother. "He didn't know what Iyman was up to."

Abdi has a son and daughter who are toddlers, and his wife is eight months pregnant, AbdiKarani and a cousin said.

"He loved it here. He never had as much freedom," AbdiKarani said. "He said it's good to raise his kids here."

AbdiKarani came to the United States about two months before his brother - about nine years ago, he said. They stayed about four months with family in Virginia before seeking better job opportunities and lower housing costs in Columbus.

He doesn't know of his brother traveling overseas. He says his brother - named for his grandfather and called "Nur" for short - visited Ethiopia before coming to the United States.

AbdiKarani said their mother was staying with Abdi's wife, another Somalian immigrant who met Abdi here. Their children are U.S. citizens, he said.

"A lot of people are trying to help her out," the brother said.

The state lists Abdi as a co-owner of Cell Station, a cell phone business in a strip mall with several Somali-owned businesses on the city's north side. The store's telephone number was disconnected Monday, and its door was open, but no one was inside. Clerks at neighboring businesses said the other co-owner had gone to pick up some orders.

Abdi followed the same routine daily, waking up to pray, going to the gym, going to the mosque, working and spending time with family, AbdiKarani said.

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