Time Magazine on Monday, March 10, 2003
The arrest and indictment of a Saudi graduate student in Idaho last week may have been an important first step in busting up the burgeoning links between Islamic extremism and the World Wide Web.
Sami Omar al-Hussayen, a Ph.D. candidate in computer security at the University of Idaho, was charged with violating conditions of his student visa by registering and maintaining a dozen militant websites promoting violence against U.S. interests. U.S. officials want to know more about al-Hussayen’s work for the sponsor of most of these sites, the radical Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), a Michigan-based group known as one of the most strident voices of Islam on the Web. IANA hosted the websites of two radical Saudi sheiks – Salman al-Awdah and Safar al-Hawali – both of whom are closely associated with Osama bin Laden and who provided religious justification for the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the SITE Institute, a Washington-based terrorist-research group that monitors the Internet. In the recent German trial of Mounir El Motassadeq, an accomplice of the hijackers, prosecutors revealed phone calls between him and both clerics.
Al-Hussayen’s case also may provide fresh evidence that at least some of these anti-American websites are being supported by funds coming from Saudi Arabia. Al-Hussayen is accused of covertly receiving $300,000 from abroad and disbursing much of it to IANA. Law-enforcement sources tell TIME that about $100,000 of those funds came from radical Islamic interests in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-embassy spokesman in Washington said no government money has gone to IANA.