DC Sniper headed passport scam, had FBI & CIA ties
The 41-year-old U.S. Army veteran also had a scam involving Jamaicans flying to the United States on the return tickets of people who flew to the island legitimately. Muhammad would organize papers or a passport for a would-be migrant in Antigua, usually Jamaican, to use the return ticket. Muhammad told another neighbor he was in the U.S. Army and had worked with the FBI and CIA.
Sniper Suspect Said to Be Friendly
By MICHELLE FAUL
Associated Press Writer
October 26, 2002, 9:11 PM EDT
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua -- During his strange sojourn on this Caribbean island, John Allen Muhammad was a friendly mechanic, an itinerant salesman and reportedly a supplier of Antiguan passports to people looking to emigrate illegally to the United States.
The prime suspect in the U.S. sniper shootings that terrorized residents in the Washington-area also allegedly used a falsified birth certificate to obtain an Antiguan passport.
When Muhammad's life started unraveling last year, he chose as a refuge this former British colony where the chief of police is accused of bribery and corruption.
The island is also a place where passports can legally be bought under a so-called "economic citizenship" program.
Muhammad, who obtained an Antiguan passport on July 4, 2000, allegedly presented a falsified a birth certificate from New Orleans, La., claiming his mother was from Antigua.
Lt. Col. Clyde Walker, Antigua's Chief Immigration Officer, said it was clear the birth certificate was falsified.
"Even though he is not an Antiguan, this is a stain on the name of Antigua and we need to investigate this fully," Walker said.
Keithly Nedd, who lived in the house where Muhammad rented a room, said the 41-year-old U.S. Army veteran also had a scam involving Jamaicans flying to the United States on the return tickets of people who flew to the island legitimately. Muhammad would organize papers or a passport for a would-be migrant in Antigua, usually Jamaican, to use the return ticket.
"A lot of people just came to him, gave him their birth (certificate) and he would just get them passports within days," Nedd said Friday.
A message was left for Muhammad's lawyer, who could not be immediately reached.
Neither police nor government officials could be reached for comment Saturday.
The passports allegedly sold for between $1,000 and $1,500.
"He told me he could get passports, any type of papers, and that he could get people into America," said Randy Nelson, a 35-year-old supermarket manager and barbershop owner who was a neighbor of Muhammad.
Nelson said he was "shocked but not that surprised" when he heard Muhammad, who converted to Islam after joining the Army, was the prime suspect in the shootings that left 10 people dead and three wounded.
"The very first time I met him, right here on this porch, he pointed his hand like a gun at a man standing in the windows of the hospital over there and said he could take out a man, could hit anybody, from that range," Nelson said, indicating a building in the distance.
He said they were talking about guns because Muhammad told him he was in the U.S. Army and had worked with the FBI and CIA.
Antigua is also where Muhammad reportedly met John Lee Malvo, the 17-year-old Jamaican arrested with him Thursday in Fredricksburg, Md. Nedd said Muhammad organized papers that allowed Malvo's Jamaican mother, Una James, to reach the United States illegally.
Although Muhammad's passport was issued in 2000, Antiguan officials said he first arrived on the island in May last year. They had no record of his departure. Nelson said he last saw him in March.
Nelson and the principal of a school where Muhammad enrolled three of his children described Muhammad as a man who would repair a car or truck without payment, bring gifts from the United States and take neighborhood kids on early-morning runs.
Greensville Primary School Principal Janet Harris described him as "very compassionate and genuine."
She could not understand how he could be the sniper who warned "Your children are not safe anywhere, at any time," after shooting a 13-year-old child. The boy survived.
address: Associated Press
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