DETROIT – An alleged member of a terrorist sleeper cell in Michigan believed to be an expert in airport security was ordered detained Wednesday.
Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, 36, pleaded innocent to charges of acting with "a covert underground support unit" and an "operational combat cell" for a radical Islamic movement allied with Al Qaeda.
Elmardoudi, Karim Koubriti, 24, Ahmed Hannan, 34, and Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 22, were charged in August with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists. The others also have pleaded innocent.
Federal officials allege Elmardoudi directed the other men and taught them to talk in code about their plans.
Elmardoudi was a fugitive until his arrest Nov. 5 in North Carolina.
His attorney, William Swor, declined to comment on the case.
The indictment says the men's plans included obtaining weapons for operatives overseas and recruiting terrorists. It also says Elmardoudi was known to the other three suspects as an expert in airport security operations, telephone calling card fraud and falsifying identification.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino said there also is an outstanding warrant for Elmardoudi's arrest in Minnesota. Court documents in Minneapolis show that Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi was arrested more than a year ago and charged with stealing telephone calling-card numbers. The numbers were used to call countries in East Africa, the Philippines, the Middle East and the Balkans.
Koubriti, Hannan and Ali-Haimoud were arrested Sept. 17, 2001, after a raid on a Detroit apartment that yielded a cache of false documents, including visas.
A fifth man, Youssef Hmimssa, was arrested later in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.