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N.Y. Bomb Suspect Faces New Charges : Terrorism: Indictment accuses Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center attack, in plot to blow up airliners.

April 14, 1995|JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the 1993 terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center, was charged Thursday in a new indictment with planning to blow up U.S. airliners in the Far East and with exploding a bomb aboard a Philippine Airlines plane that killed a passenger last December.

Also named with Yousef in the new indictment was Abdul Hakim Murad, who shared an apartment in Manila with Yousef.

Murad, 27, who was arrested by Philippine police in January and flown to New York early Thursday, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was held without bail for a hearing next Tuesday. Yousef, who has been jailed in New York since his extradition from Pakistan in February, is scheduled to be arraigned next week.

The new indictment, which was issued March 22 and unsealed Thursday, repeats charges against Yousef in the Feb. 26, 1993, bombing of the trade center that killed six people and injured more than 1,000. So far, four people have been convicted in that plot, each sentenced to 240 years in prison.

The latest indictment, however, added a chilling new dimension to the alleged terrorists' activities.

Timing devices, airline schedules, components of nitroglycerin and manuals for making explosives were discovered last Dec. 8 in an apartment Yousef rented in Manila in advance of the visit of Pope John Paul II to that Asian nation. Police also found pictures of the Pope and maps of his route.

Yousef, who has used at least 10 aliases, rented the apartment on President Quirino Boulevard under the name Naji Haddad.

Yousef fled to Pakistan after an accidental blaze in the apartment put police on his trail. Authorities said he was plotting to plant explosives aboard a U.S. commercial jet in Bangkok, Thailand, just before his arrest in February.

"The scope of this investigation is immense," said James K. Kallstrom, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York office. "The trail of these terrorists leads from the Middle East to the Far East and back to New York, where they will be held accountable for their actions."

Yousef could face life in prison or the death penalty if he is convicted in the airline bombing plot. Murad faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. He was not charged in the trade center attack.

Authorities were investigating whether the bombing of Philippines Airlines Flight 434 last Dec. 11 while it was traveling from Manila to Tokyo was a test for larger explosion planned for U.S. planes. The bomb went off under a seat, killing a Japanese passenger. The indictment charged that Yousef placed the bomb aboard the jet and then got off.

Authorities said Yousef and Murad kept computer files containing airline flight numbers, departure times and the times for planned detonation of bombs. They said Yousef and Murad were responsible for a letter threatening to attack American targets signed by the "Fifth Battalion of the Liberation Army--Abu Baker Al Maki," the same group that claimed responsibility for the World Trade Center attack.

"This case and the continuing terrorism investigations should serve to demonstrate this country's and the world's firm resolve to meet and prosecute acts and planned acts of terrorism wherever they occur," said U.S. Atty. Mary Jo White. "Acts of terrorism, such as those charged in today's indictment, directed at Americans and the world's citizens will not be tolerated."

The indictment Thursday repeated trade center bombing charges against Yousef and Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi citizen who was born in Bloomington, Ind. Yasin, who fled the United States after the explosion, is still at large. The State Department has offered a $2-million reward for him.

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