BALTIMORE, Md. – An Afghan being held without bail on immigration charges denied any links to terrorism, saying he came to this country to work as a cook so he could support his sick mother.
The FBI is investigating Khoshal Wahid Nasery and five other men who were arrested Sept. 10 in a sparsely furnished apartment, where officers found computers containing information on flight training and airports. Identification cards, photos, and Arabic literature on Islam and jihad, or holy war, were also found, authorities said.
"All I know is how to cook," Nasery told Baltimore television station WMAR. "I know nothing else. I am a cook, not an airline pilot ... not a terrorist."
Nasery said he came to the United States from Canada in December 2000 to support his mother, who was ill. The computers in the apartment aren't his, and the Islamic literature officials found in the apartment included a Quran, he said.
"The Islamic holy book is the Quran," Nasery said. "Who doesn't have a bible at home? It's our bible."
Nasery is being held on charges he overstayed a visitors visa. Judge Lisa Dornell has given the Immigration and Naturalization Service until Sept. 30 to provide evidence that Nasery should continue to be held without bail.
"They're making a big mistake," Nasery said. "They're supposed to hunt down terrorists, not bring innocent people to justice."
Officers originally went to the apartment to serve a warrant for harassment, arson and telephone misuse on a sixth man, Abderrahim Houti, a Moroccan national, police said. Houti has been denied bail.
FBI spokesman Barry Maddox has declined to comment on evidence found in the apartment, however, he has said nothing has been found specifically linking the material to terrorism.
Three other men are being held without bail on routine immigration charges, pending an Oct. 7 bail hearing, INS officials said.
Unsir Hafeez, a 24-year-old Canadian citizen originally from Pakistan, is charged with working illegally while in the United States on a valid visa. Reza Zazai, 25, a Canadian citizen originally from Afghanistan, and Choudry Jamil Khan, a Pakistan national, are charged with overstaying their visas, the INS said.
A Somali man also arrested in the apartment is scheduled to be deported on charges he ignored a previous deportation order, officials said.