US citizen Christopher Paul pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he conspired to assist terrorists and to bomb European tourist sites and US military and government facilities overseas. Paul, from Columbus, OH, did not request to be released on bond during his arraignment in the US Southern District of Ohio.
Paul pleaded not guilty to all three counts of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, and providing material support and resources to terrorists. Paul is allegedly connected to two other men from Columbus who have also been indicted on terrorism charges. Iyman Faris, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, attended the same mosque and became friends with Paul. Nuradin Abdi, a Somali awaiting trial on 2004 charges that he plotted with other al Qaeda operatives to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, used Paul as a reference on a government employment application. Officials also found evidence in Paul's apartment that will be used against Abdi at trial.
According to investigators, Paul traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early 1990s to receive military training at an al Qaeda training camp and, upon his return to the US, continued to funnel money and other resources to al Qaeda. The indictment also alleges that Paul provided explosives training to co-conspirators in Germany to carry out future attacks on European and United States targets. If convicted of all charges, Paul could receive a maximum penalty of life in prison.