Wadih el-Hage

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Wadih el-Hage (born 1960) was an Al-Qaida member accused of conspiring in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Investigators allege that el-Hage was useful due to his United States passport. El-Hage's mother-in-law says that his wife, April El-Hage, called him the "Black Ronald McDonald".

His assumed name in Afghanistan was Abd'al Sabur, meaning "servant of the most patient". He was also known as the Manager.

He was born to a Roman Catholic family in Sidon, Lebanon. He grew up in Kuwait, where his father worked in an oil company.

His mother-in-law said that El-Hage converted to Islam after reading the Qur'an. El-Hage's family shunned him. A sheik took him in and paid for his education in the United States.

In 1978, el-Hage attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) in Lafayette, Louisiana. He studied urban planning and worked at a doughnut shop.

When the Soviet Union began to invade Afghanistan, El-Hage travelled to Pakistan and became a mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan. He was under the wing of Sheik Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, who became friends with Osama bin Laden.

In January 1985, El-Hage returned to USL. Later that year, he went to Arizona and married an 18-year old girl named April. Her mother said that this was an arranged marriage. After he graduated in May 1986, El-Hage moved to Arizona.

For the next several years, the El-Hage family went to and from Pakistan. For one year, his mother-in-law and her husband accompanied them. In an interview with an organization called Frontline, Wadih El-Hage's mother-in-law said, "I was the Matron surgical nurse at an Afghan Surgical Hospital. Wadih did not actually fight, but acted as an educator. My husband went with Wadih to deliver textbooks and Korans to the young people. It was a Jihad, a fight for Islam."

Wadih El-Hage worked at several minimum wage jobs, including being a custodian, when he returned to Arizona. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1989. In December 1989, El-Hage met a man named Mahmud Abouhalima in an Islamic conference in Oklahoma.

Prosecutors think that in early 1990, El-Hage was called up by a "tall man" in New York who arrived in Arizona and said he was to check on Dr. Rashad Khalifa, an imam some felt was unorthodox. El-Hage entertained Khalifa at his house and drove him to his mosque.

Several weeks later, Khalifa was discovered murdered in the kitchen of his mosque. Several members of the sect Al Fuqra were convicted, but no shooter was found. Prosecutors think that El-Hage knows who killed Khalifa and may have been involved. Even if El-Hage wasn't involved, they still think that he should have told them what he knew. El-Hage's family says that El-Hage wasn't involved as he was out of the country when Khalifa was killed.

Afterwards, El-Hage moved his family to Arlington, Texas.

Prosecutors say that Mahmud Abouhalima, the man El-Hage met in the mosque, told El-Hage to buy a .38 caliber revolver. A man named El Sayyid Nosair used the revolver that El-Hage bought in the 1991 death of rabbi Meir Kahane.

Prosecutors say that El-Hage was called to Brooklyn, New York, New York on March 1, 1991 to help direct the Alkifah Refugee Center, a Brooklyn-based charity that raised money to support veterans of the 1980s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The group had an office in Tucson and was in contact with an Arlington mosque. Members of El-Hage's family say that he was in contact with the group, and say that he was called in as a mediator.

The leader of the group, Mustafa Shalabi, disappeared on the day El-Hage arrived in New York, New York. One week later, his mutilated body was found in an apartment that he shared with Mahmud Abouhalima. Prosecutors believe that the murder was made in a dispute over the group's resources, but the case is unsolved. El-Hage's family said that he cried when he heard that Shalabi was dead.

Evidence collected shows that he had several friends that were convicted in the World Trade Center bombing and the landmark plot.

On March 8, 1991, El-Hage visited El Sayyid Nosair in Rikers Island.

In January 1992, El-Hage was arrested for writing false checks. He was riding in the car with a man named Marwan Salama, who had phone contacts with the conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to phone records.

In Early 1992, El-Hage moved his family to Sudan. He began work as a secretary to Osama bin Laden. El-Hage's family thinks that he worked for the legitimate businesses Bin Laden had. Among the businesses Bin Laden operated included a tannery, several farms, a construction firm, a transport company, and two investment companies. El-Hage often went to trips to Europe and other places to assist Bin Laden's businesses.

Prosecutors believe that El-Hage became a key aide to Bin Laden. They also believe that he was trying to obtain chemical weapons for the terrorist group. Little evidence emerged out of Sudan for either claim.

In 1994, April El-Hage convinced El-Hage to move out of Sudan and to stop working for Bin Laden's businesses there. El-Hage's mother in law said, "April would have none of that. She is Muslim, but she is also American, and she wouldn't stand for it."

Prosecutors believe that Wadih El-Hage still worked for the organization after he moved to Nairobi, Kenya. In Kenya, he became the director of Help Africa People, a Muslim charity organization, which Kenyan documents say helped control malaria. El-Hage also made extra money off of the jewelry business.

Prosecutors say that El-Hage was in contact with Ubaidah al-Banshiri, a key Al-Qaida member that was in Kenya at the time. A man named Fazul Abdullah Mohammed moved into El-Hage's house and worked at his house as a secretary. El-Hage's mother-in-law says that "Wadih was always letting people stay with them. That is the proper Muslim way." A man named Mohammed Saddiq Odeh said in his interrogation after the 1998 embassy bombings that he knew El-Hage in Nairobi and that El-Hage attended his wedding. A letter investigators found after the bombing that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed wrote suggests that El-Hage was the "engineer" of the terrorist cell.

In August 1997, El-Hage's house was raided. Two days later, El-Hage was questioned by police when he came back to Nairobi from Afghanistan. El-Hage's family says that he was told to leave Kenya. On September of that year, El-Hage returned to Arlington with his family. Several accounts say that he sold all of his possessions to get money for the return to Texas.

El-Hage got an apartment near the University of Texas at Arlington and enrolled the children in an Islamic school. He got a job at the Lone Star Tire Store.

On September 15, 1998, El-Hage testified to a grand jury about the Embassy bombings. He claimed that he did not know Osama bin Laden and other people involved in the embassy bombing.

El-Hage was arrested for perjury shortly afterwards in Arlington, Texas. On October 7, 1998, El-Hage was charged in a conspiracy to kill nationals of the United States.

His pre-trial hearing was in February 1999. He was found guilty on all counts by a jury in 2001. He was sentenced to imprisonment for life without parole.

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