New Details About Terror Suspect Arrested in Columbus

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Officials released new details today about a Columbus man indicted on charges of providing support to terrorist groups and conspiring to blow up U.S. government buildings abroad. The government wants 43-year-old Christopher Paul held without bond. The indictment says he joined al-Qaida and traveled to Afghanistan to attend a terrorist training camp.

No one answered the door Thursday afternoon at an apartment listed as Christopher Paul’s. One of his neighbors said from behind a closed door that she couldn’t comment.

“Oh I don’t know anything about my neighbors.”

Another neighbor, John Didier, says he’d never met Paul. Didier says he was at home Wednesday when about 40 police officers and FBI agents and the bomb squad arrived to arrest the suspect.

“That was surprising, the number of police officers,” Didier says. “I thought somebody had been killed or something. I thought there was a murder in the building.”

The indictment, which identifies Paul by a number of different names, says that he began in 1989 to plan the destruction of property and to kill and injure people outside the United States. It accuses Paul of training people in the U.S. who might “fight violent jihad” abroad.

The indictment says that in late 2006 Paul stored literature on how to make explosive devices at his father’s Columbus home. In 1998, the document says, he conducted hiking, camping and other training operations in Ohio’s Burr Oak State Park. Paul reportedly expressed his admiration of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the mid-1990s.

Paul was born “Paul Kenyatta Laws” and legally changed his name twice. In 1989 he became Abdulmalek Kenyatta and in 1994 he changed it to Christopher Paul. Those changes, according to U.S. Assistant Attorney William Hunt could have been done to make travel overseas easier.

“I think it would be safe to assume that changing the name might enable somebody to travel more easily in that part of the world,” Hunt says.

It also says Paul traveled to Germany to meet with a group of radical Islamic fundamentalists to provide explosives training. The FBI’s regional director Tim Murphy says the investigation began four years ago.

“The investigation spanned three continents. It has required coordination with intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world from at least eight different countries. It required our personnel from the Joint Terrorism Task Force to travel around the world gathering evidence, enhancing this cooperation,” Murphy says.

Federal prosecutors want Paul held without bail. U.S. Magistrate Terrence Kemp scheduled a Friday morning hearing to make that determination.

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