Suspect planned to 'go jihad,' friend said
By ROB JOHNSON
Tip leads to Iraqi native's arrest here in weapons sting
For almost three months, law-enforcement agents have kept a close eye on an Iraqi-born man they say was scheming to purchase machine guns, hand grenades and anti-tank missiles as part of a plan to ''go jihad'' in Nashville.
Ahmed Hassan Al-Uqaily, 33, made his initial appearance yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Clifton Knowles to face federal charges of illegal possession of machine guns. He was taken into custody Thursday after allegedly accepting the guns from someone he thought was a weapons dealer. Knowles ordered him held in custody.
An undercover agent posed as the dealer, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Vines.
Al-Uqaily came to the government's attention in early August with a tip from ''a vigilant individual,'' an old acquaintance of the suspect who was startled by Al-Uqaily's angry tone, Vines said.
That chance encounter took place Aug. 4, when ''Al-Uqaily expressed anger about the state of affairs in Iraq and stated that he was 'going jihad' and he was going to blow up something,'' a federal affidavit says.
The worried acquaintance alerted members of the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force the next day. Soon Metro police, the TBI, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and state Homeland Security officials were all participating with the FBI in the investigation, according to Vines.
Federal authorities said Al-Uqaily did not come to their attention until Aug. 5 when the friend told them about the threats.
Al-Uqaily had been in the public spotlight before.
In May, while standing hooded on Lower Broadway in a public re-enactment of one of the infamous pictures taken at Iraq's Abu-Ghraib prison, Al-Uqaily told The Tennessean that his brothers and mother had been killed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and that his father had been jailed.
His family, he said then, was from the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.
In September the acquaintance updated agents about Al-Uqaily's intent, court records state. Al-Uqaily told the acquaintance that he wanted to purchase four grenades and two handguns. The acquaintance, acting with the agents' knowledge, told Al-Uqaily that he knew of a weapons dealer, affidavits show.
The government says it has recordings of Al-Uqaily making arrangements Sept. 10 to purchase the hardware for $1,000.
Eight days later, he said he also wanted two or three machine guns, ammunition and ''missiles.'' He also said he needed more time before buying the weapons, court records show.
On Oct. 4, in another recorded conversation described in an FBI affidavit, Al-Uqaily talked about wanting an anti-tank weapon, and he discussed getting the acquaintance's help to go on his ''mission.'' The acquaintance asked where.
''Al-Uqaily responded by ex-pressing animosity towards the Jewish community,'' states the affidavit. ''Discussion ensued about two Jewish facilities in the Nashville area, but Al-Uqaily gave no indication of specific plans in connection with those facilities.''
The next day, the acquaintance and an undercover agent who was posing as the weapons dealer discussed terms for a deal involving grenades and machine guns.
The planned transaction did not go through as expected Wednesday, when the suspect expressed worries that he was under law-enforcement surveillance.
They decided to make the cash-for-weapons exchange at a southeast Nashville food business on Thursday, according to Vines. After the exchange, Al-Uqaily was arrested in the parking lot. Vines would not name the business, but Uqaily was wearing a Krispy Kreme doughnut shirt at his court appearance Friday.
A manager at the Krispy Kreme store on Thompson Lane said yesterday that he was aware of the circumstances but could not comment.
Last night, at 1923B Laurinda Drive — Al-Uqaily's most recent address, according to an Internet records service — a hand-painted van sat parked.
Nearby were the remnants of crime-scene tape from a recent search. Inside the van was a plainly visible utility bill addressed to Al-Uqaily.
Painted in black letters across splotches of bright colors on the van were a series of slogans that echoed Al-Uqaily's Lower Broadway demonstration in May: ''I pray all soldiers lay down their guns.'' ''War won't work.'' ''Stop killing kids for oil.'' And, ''Moses, Jesus & Mohammed all talk peace.''
Staff writer Ian Demsky contributed to this report. Rob Johnson can be reached at 664-2162 or at email@example.com.
Kind of ironic now that the AWB has passed on, that the dreaded and feared "streets overflowing with automatic weapons" were supplied by the government. That said, I'm glad they got the fuck! OH and DUPE! IBTL