– ASSEM HAMMOUD
* Assem Hammoud was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1975. Assem Hammoud is said to be either a professor of economics or computer science at the Lebanese International University. He studied finance and economics in Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in the years 1995-2002 and in 2000 visited California as a tourist student. Assem Hammoud speaks English, French and German, in addition to Arabic.
Assem Hammoud was recruited to Ansar al Islam, run by Abu Musab al Zarqawi from Iraq, through a Syrian mediator, in 2003, probably shortly after the USA invasion to Iraq. He went through basic weapon training in the Palestinian refugee camp Ain al-Hilweh, near Sidon in South Lebanon. Assem Hammoud got the nick name Amir Andalousi – means “Prince of Spain”.
Assem Hammoud, was arrested in Lebanon on 04/24/2006 and charged of being a member in a terror organization. He was handed over to USA on 07/07/2006 as a prime suspect in an alleged plot of 8 perpetrators to bomb the HOLLAND Tunnel under the Hudson River in New York. Lebanese officials said he had confessed to the plot and of being a member of Al Qaeda. No one of the 8 suspects visited USA since the cell was formed in 2003 up to their arrest in 2006. A Sunni Kurd suspect with an Iranian citizenship managed to avoid the arrest and fled from Lebanon to Libya via Syria.
The plot to bomb the HOLLAND Tunnel in New York was uncovered during routine monitoring of internet chartrooms used by extremist groups. Additionally, Assem Hammoud was planning to travel to Pakistan for four months training and the date for the attack was decided to be late in 2006. There was no evidence that any concrete step was taken to actually carry on the attack further then the chat about it on the web.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said this was one instance “where intelligence was on top of its game and discovered the plot when it was just in the talking phase”.
A number of plots targeting subways, tunnels and other New York City landmarks have come to light since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Assem Hammoud was released, in USA, on bail in 06/2008 which indicates the USA prosecution faces difficulties to prove a concrete plot.
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