Attempt to buy rifles linked to terrorist
Alleged contact man is arrested
BY ELENA CABRAL
Federal agents have arrested a Trinidadian man in Fort Lauderdale who tried to buy guns for an Islamic fundamentalist group with ties to terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Keith Glaude, 45, was the frontman for a deal to buy 60 AK-47s and 10 M-10 machine guns, said Ed Halley, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Miami.
Glaude allegedly was sent by a man the ATF identified as Olive Small, said to be a high-level member of a group with ties to bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian millionaire and anti-Western militant.
Four supporters of bin Laden were convicted Tuesday in New York City for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.
In an investigation that dates to February of last year, Halley said, undercover ATF agents had been working out the deal by telephone with Small, who Halley said has a long criminal history in the United States, including a heroin trafficking conviction. He was deported in 1998, Halley said.
The Islamic group to which Small is linked, Jamaat al Muslimeen, was involved in a failed coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago in 1990.
"They seem to be the only real threat that exists in that region, other than typical hurricanes or natural disasters,'' Halley said. Halley would not give details about where the arrest took place or how the transaction was set up.
The final destination of the guns was unknown, he said. Glaude
was arrested Wednesday during the transaction. He faces several charges
including possession of
unregistered machine guns.
Halley said Glaude is being held at the federal detention center in Miami under a $150,000 bond. His case must go before a grand jury.
It is unclear whether Small will face charges.
"We are quite stunned and very interested by the whole thing,'' said Chandradath Singh, consul general of Trinidad and Tobago. Singh said the consulate had few details about the case, but planned to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.
This was not the first time that those involved in faraway conflicts have allegedly come to South Florida in search of weapons. Last year three men and a woman were convicted of smuggling guns out of South Florida for use by the Irish Republican Army. The defendants were accused of purchasing or ordering more than 100 guns before their arrest in June 1999.
"We're the gateway to the entire Americas and the Caribbean,'' Halley said. ``The ports make it very attractive for this kind of trafficking.''