WASHINGTON – An American Muslim activist who authorities believe took computer equipment to an Al Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan has been taken into custody, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday.
James Ujaama, 36, was arrested Monday night in Denver as a material witness to terrorist activity. He was flown to Virginia, where he is being held, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The alleged terrorist activity was not related to the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the official, who declined to be more specific.
Another federal official said investigators believe Ujaama may have supplied terrorists in Afghanistan with computer equipment. He said authorities were investigating whether Ujaama also trained at the camp.
Ujaama has not been formally charged. Holding him as a material witness — someone with possibly important information — allows federal authorities to indefinitely keep him in custody.
Ujaama's mother, Peggi Thompson of Seattle, said her son was arrested at his aunt's home in Denver.
"The FBI came and got him," Thompson told The Associated Press. "There's nothing I can do or anything right now. Nobody's saying anything."
Ujaama's brother, Mustafa, also was briefly detained Monday, she said.
Mustafa Ujaama answered reporters' shouted questions as he left his aunt's Denver home Tuesday.
When asked if he was linked to terrorism, Mustafa Ujaama said, "No. Why [do] you ask me that? Of course not. I'm a veteran. I'm an American citizen."
"I've never even heard of Al Qaeda," he said. "My brother is not a terrorist and neither am I."
Mustafa Ujaama said the government is targeting and persecuting Muslims. "I'm concerned about my brother, concerned for his safety," he said.
The brothers were born James Ernest Thompson and Jon Thompson and grew up in Seattle. Some community leaders there have applauded their work to rid their neighborhood of drugs and prostitution by recruiting former gang members and others into the local mosque, Dar-us-Salaam.
That mosque, now defunct, is under scrutiny for possible links to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network.
James Ujaama has published four books, his brother said. The Denver Public Library had three books listed by him — Coming Up, Entrepreneur Basics 101 and Young People's Guide to Starting a Business — but they're not at the library now. Two are listed as out of print on the Amazon.com Web site.
News reports say James Ujaama worked on a British Web site that advertised the "Ultimate Jihad Challenge," a paramilitary training course in the United States. British authorities shut the site down following the Sept. 11 attacks. He also runs a Web site called stopamerica.org, which opposes U.S. foreign policy.