Feds: Hempstead Terror Suspect Thrived On Secrecy

By: Houston Chronicle
By: Houston Chronicle

(Houston Chronicle) He used at least a dozen Yahoo e-mail addresses to hide his identity, spoke and wrote in a self-styled code of joining al-Qaida holy warriors, and eagerly went to bogus drop sites set up by FBI agents, thinking he was proving himself a worthy jihad recruit.

If allegations spelled out by the federal prosecutors in court papers made public Monday are true, Barry Bujol Jr. of Hempstead was ready to join the terror fight against the United States.

A 27-page application for a warrant used to search his apartment reveals how agents used a confidential informant to snare the 29-year-old Muslim, a U.S. citizen.

He is accused of attempting to provide resources to al-Qaida, the terrorist organization run by Osama bin Laden.

Bujol is scheduled to be back in court today for a hearing that could shed further light on the man and charges. Specifically, he is accused of attempting to provide al-Qaida with personnel and equipment, such as cell phones, global positioning devices and U.S. military manuals.

He's expected to plead not guilty to the charges, which carry up to 15 years in prison.

His lawyer, Joseph Varela, cautioned that although national security is a top priority in the post 9/11 world, the strength of the allegations needs to be evaluated.

“I am not going to concede he did anything at this point,” Varela said. “Terrorism is a hot topic. What I want to stress is the protections of the Constitution apply to Bujol just as they would to anyone accused of a crime, whether it is running a red light or something far more serious.”

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating Bujol in 2008, according to court papers.

Agents contend Bujol was sending e-mail to Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida associate who also exchanged e-mail with the suspect in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan.

Informant brought in
A court paper signed by a counterterrorism task force officer, Sean McCarroll, states Bujol first was investigated for terror ties in 2008.

It doesn't note why authorities noticed him, but it says investigators relied heavily on surveillance, interviews and recordings of meetings between Bujol and the informant, who has worked with the FBI for six years.

In late 2009, the FBI brought the informant into the investigation.

Bujol went by the Arabic moniker of “Abu Abudah.”

The informant, who is not named, passed himself off as an al-Qaida agent.

According to court records, he convinced Bujol that he recruited holy warriors known as Mujahedeen.

Bujol is accused of having said he wanted to be “a means of victory” and get credit in the afterlife for his role in the war.

Records mention test
Bujol was told that as part of a test to join the team he would need to show he could operate covertly and run through a series of drop sites, secret locations where messages could be exchanged.

At one site in a park, Bujol supposedly reached into a hollowed rock to find two fake transportation worker identification cards issued by the U.S. government.

Bujol made a recording he intended to leave for his wife if he made it overseas. He never did; he was arrested trying to board a freighter.

According to court papers, he told the informant that he thought every day about joining al-Qaida and that if he never saw the United States again, it would be fine.

He also is accused of telling the informant he wanted to die with his brothers for the cause and be in heaven.

dane.schiller@chron.com


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