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Texan to stand trial on al-Qaida-related chargesTexan accused of trying to join al-Qaida to stand trial; says FBI set him up
HOUSTON (AP) ' A Texas man accused of trying to sneak out of the U.S. to join al-Qaida fighters in the Middle East and provide the group with money, equipment and U.S. military documents will be tried Monday on terrorism charges.
Prosecutors allege that Barry Walter Bujol Jr., 30, said he wanted to "die with the brothers for the cause of Allah, and to be in Heaven." A U.S. citizen, he was arrested in May 2010 after using fake identification to sneak into a Houston port and board a ship bound for the Middle East, authorities said.
An FBI informant had given Bujol a bag filled with GPS receivers, two nonpublic restricted-access Army manuals and other items he had allegedly agreed to courier to al-Qaida operatives in the Middle East. Authorities say Bujol believed the informant was a recruiter for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Bujol, who was raised Baptist and converted to Islam, wrote in a letter to the Houston Chronicle from his jail cell that federal agents set him up. He said he has never spoken with a real terrorist.
"In all the time and money squandered on this terrorist extravaganza sponsored by your tax dollars, all the government could finally do was coax me to take a knapsack of items to the informant's friend," Bujol wrote.
An FBI task force claims that Bujol had been emailing Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric with ties to al-Qaida, and is believed to have exchanged emails with Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in the November 2009 Fort Hood shootings.
Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in late September in Yemen.
Authorities say Bujol made three unsuccessful attempts during February and March 2009 to travel overseas to Yemen or the Middle East.
He was arrested after a two-year investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft.
Bujol, who lives in Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, was set to plead guilty in the case in October 2010, but he changed his mind. He fired two attorneys, decided to represent himself and has elected to have a judge, not a jury, decide his case. His most recent court-appointed attorney, Edward Mallett, will be present during the trial should Bujol have legal questions.
According to court documents, Bujol used at least 14 email addresses to hide his activities from authorities and advocated attacking U.S. facilities where military weapons were manufactured.
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