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July 19, 2006

Playboy’s life: Girls & booze

Filed under: Global Jihad, Islam, Terror — limewoody @ 10:19 pm
BY JAMES GORDON MEEK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

The alleged ringleader of the tunnel terror plot lived the life of an international playboy – on orders from Al Qaeda. Assem Hammoud, 31, even fooled his mother, if Lebanese police and U.S. anti-terror officials are correct. His mother, Nabila Qotob, said Hammoud drinks alcohol, had girlfriends, traveled widely and showed no similarities to Islamic militants. She also said Hammoud taught economics at a local university. To prove her son was no jihadi, Qotob showed off photos yesterday of Hammoud with his father and lounging shirtless on a speeding motorboat in Germany. There were also very un-Islamic pictures of Hammoud with three smiling women – none of them wearing veils – on his arm during an undated stay in Canada. “His morale is high because he is confident he is innocent,” said Qotob, who said she had recently visited her son in jail. But Lebanese police, who arrested Hammoud on April 27, said in a statement that the suspect claimed he had been ordered to maintain a fun-loving, secular lifestyle to hide his Islamic militancy. “He did just that with perfection,” the police statement said. Counterterror agents knew Hammoud by his Internet alias of Amir Andalousli and consider him a dedicated member of Al Qaeda. “We questioned him and he unraveled the plot,” a source said. FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon said, “We know that he has acknowledged pledging a bayat or allegiance to Osama Bin Laden, and he proclaims himself to be a member of Al Qaeda.” Hammoud also told his captors that he was acting “on a religious order from Bin Laden and said, ‘I am proud to carry out his orders,’ ” a Lebanese official said. To carry out those orders, Hammoud planned to go to Pakistan for four months for training and had already undergone some light weapons instruction with a Syrian man who came to Lebanon this year, Lebanese cops said. The Lebanese government said that instruction took place in the Ein Alhulwa camp, a Palestinian refugee camp that Middle East expert Nimrod Raphaeli called “an incubator of terrorism and a fountainhead of Islamist extremism.” Hammoud wouldn’t be the first Islamic terrorist to live the good life to fool possible investigators. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, believed to be the mastermind of the 9/11 plot, had developed a reputation as a charming womanizer even as he plotted to blow up airplanes flying to the U.S. from Asia. And some of the 9/11 attackers were known to frequent topless bars and pay for lap dances to keep their covers from being blow

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