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Calif. Man Charged With Al Qaeda Links

Federal agents arrested a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan on Friday after he allegedly lied about ties to terrorist groups on citizenship and passport papers, authorities said.

FBI, immigration and local law enforcement agents from an anti-terrorism task force arrested Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, 34, at his home in Tustin, California, on Friday morning, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

He faces charges of perjury, naturalization fraud, procuring a passport by fraud and making a false statement.

According to the indictment, Niazi lied when he wrote on his naturalization papers that he had never been a member of or in any way associated with a terrorist organization.

"In fact, as defendant Niazi then well knew, he was associated in any way with one or more terrorist organizations," the indictment states.

Those organizations include al Qaeda, the Taliban and a terrorist organization called Hezb-e-Islami, which fights international and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports.

In applying for naturalization papers in 2004, Niazi denied ever using an alias and claimed to have no connections with al Qaeda, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's group), or the Taliban.

The indictment alleges Niazi lied on both points, stating that Niazi has used four aliases and that he has traveled to Pakistan at least twice to meet with known terrorist operatives, Orr reports.

In one case, Niazi met face to face with the security coordinator for Osama bin Laden, a man known as Dr. Amin al-Haq or Muhammad Amin, according to the indictment.

The security coordinator is Niazi's brother-in-law, according to an affidavit released late Friday, Orr reports.

Upon his return from the trip he allegedly told authorities he had been visiting his family in the Gulf nation of Qatar.

In addition, a search of Niazi's bank accounts shows that he and his wife have sent thousands of dollars to family members in Pakistan over the years - more than $16,000 in 57 transactions between 1999 and 2006. The money was sent through Hawalas, an unlicensed and unregulated exchange system prevalent in the Middle East.

Those transactions are not part of the criminal indictment, however.

U.S. attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said Niazi became a U.S. citizen about five years ago. He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon, where he was expected to be assigned an attorney.

Niazi faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said prosecutors would seek to have Niazi's citizenship revoked, something that can be done if it was obtained fraudulently. If that happens, he would also be subject to deportation.

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