MOBILE, Ala. - The terrorism case against an Alabama man accused of planning to wage violent jihad in Africa may hinge on just how well he knew a man on the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list.
Federal prosecutors portrayed Randy Wilson as an Islamic radical who wanted to reunite with Omar Hammami, an American who also grew up in Alabama but has since become one of the most well-known jihadists in Somalia. Wilson and another American who lived in Alabama for the last year, Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, are accused of plotting to leave the country to join Islamic radicals fighting in North Africa.
The two men were arrested separately about two weeks ago in Georgia. Abukhdair was taken into custody at a bus station; Wilson was arrested as he was about to board a flight to Morocco.
Wilson's attorney has described his client as a devout Muslim who was taking his family to Mauritania to study Islam, not wage jihad. Public defender Domingo Soto also said Wilson didn't live with Hammami, 28, about a decade ago, as the FBI has said, and the attorney questioned how well the two knew each other.
FBI agent Tim Green confirmed in federal court earlier this month that the information in the charging affidavit that Wilson and Hammami were roommates was incorrect and he wasn't sure where it came from. It wasn't clear whether Abukhdair has an attorney yet.
Wilson, 25, has a wife and two young children. He was known around his neighborhood in Mobile, along the Alabama coast, for his big yard sales.