WASHINGTON — A man with dual U.S. and Syrian citizenship was added to the FBI's most-wanted terrorists list Wednesday after eluding arrest for four years on charges of making at least three trips to Pakistan and Yemen to undergo jihad training to kill U.S. troops overseas.
Ahmad Abousamra, who grew up in the Boston area and is believed to be hiding in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, has been sought since November 2009 on a federal arrest warrant issued in Boston. He is accused of conspiring to kill in a foreign country and providing material support to a terrorist organization.
A $50,000 reward has been posted for his capture. Abousamra, who was born in France, speaks, reads and writes fluently in English and Arabic, and has a college degree in computer technology, U.S. authorities said. He has worked in telecommunications.
Abousamra joins 29 others on the FBI's high-value most-wanted terrorists list, created a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The most notorious is Ayman Al-Zawahiri, recognized as Osama bin Laden's successor in leading the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
Abousamra was "inspired" by the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon to "act on his extremist views" and sees a "religious justification" for carrying out jihad against the U.S., according to Sgt. Thomas Daly of the Lowell, Mass., Police Department, who has been assigned to the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force.
"He wants to kill United States soldiers," Daly said, and has made at least three training trips to learn how to attack U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of Boston's FBI field office, added, "Abousamra advocates extremism and boldly promotes violence against United States citizens and military personnel."
Authorities said Abousamra formerly lived in the Boston suburb of Mansfield, Mass., and has ties through relatives to the Detroit area. They said he left the U.S. in 2006, and may be living in Aleppo with his wife, a daughter and other family members. Over the years he reportedly adopted at least six aliases, often using variations of his name, including Abou Samra.
A series of FBI photos shows him in 2002 with a heavy, chest-length black beard. Two years later, the beard appeared close-cropped. He also speaks in a high-pitched voice that Daly said "would distinguish him from others."
Abousamra was indicted with Tarek Mehanna for conspiring after the Sept. 11 attacks to provide "personnel and expert advice" to Al Qaeda. Officials said Abousamra and Mehanna, from the Boston suburb of Sudbury, used the Internet to educate themselves about jihad and, once they found each other, began working together. Mehanna was arrested in October 2009 and convicted two years later. His prison release date is December 2024.
Others on the list of most-wanted terrorists: Mohammed Ali Hamadei, who was involved in a 1985 airline hijacking in which a U.S. citizen was killed; Joanne Deborah Chesimard, a Black Liberation Army member who in 1979 escaped from prison on a life sentence for murder and may be hiding in Cuba; and Daniel Andreas San Diego, an animal rights activist suspected in three 2003 bombings in San Francisco and Pleasanton, Calif.