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Zurah Adbu Ahmed, mother of suspected al-Qaida operative Adnan El Shukrijumah, poses with a photo of her son Friday, Aug. 6, 2010 in Miramar.
South Florida was stunned to find that in the days before Sept. 11, almost all of the 19 hijackers spent time in or visited the area, living, training, and conspiring.
But yet another link between South Florida and terror is alive and well, and other al-Qaida operatives have told authorities he has risen as high as controlling the network's global operations.
Former Broward College student Adnan El Shukrijumah, 36, left his Miramar home a week before the attacks on 9/11. According to the FBI, his current activities come complete with "clear and present danger" status assigned by the attorney general and a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Shukrijumah, a citizen of Guayana, is the only al-Qaida leader to have held permanent U.S. resident status, officials told the AP.
Investigators say 15 years residing in the U.S. have made him uniquely capable of planning attacks on American targets.
But his mother, Zurah Adbu Ahmed, said she believes the FBI is wrong about her son.
"It's not true," she told the Sun Sentinel last year from her home in Miramar, where her late husband, a Guayanan native and mosque leader, moved the family in 1995 after a stopover in Brooklyn from Saudi Arabia.
She paused before adding, "I don't know. But I don't think it's true. He's a kind, loving, caring boy."
Adbu Ahmed has told the FBI she hasn't heard from her son in nearly a decade. He studied chemistry and computer sciences at BCC, working at a Motorola plant before flying to Trinidad a week before the Sept. 11th attacks to pursue an opportunity selling shoes wholesale.
"He called me two, three days after and said, 'Did you see what happened in New York?'" Adbu Ahmed said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "I told him, 'Don't come back. They are putting what happened on Muslims.'"
She told the paper he called once more a week later and she repeated her warning. She said she has not heard from him since, and had no idea where he is or what he is doing.
But the FBI thinks they have a pretty good idea, naming him as a conspirator in the case against three men who allegedly plotted suicide attacks in the New York City subways in 2009. Long suspecting him of involvement in plots against Norway, the United Kingdom, and the Panama Canal, they were unable to bring any charges against Shukrijumah until the men captured in New York provided details and identified him as their superior.
Lead investigator Brian LeBlanc told the Associated Press that Shukrijumah now holds the position once occupied by Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and that he is "making operational decisions."
"He's looking at attacking the U.S. and other Western countries," LeBlanc explained. "Basically through attrition, he has become his old boss."
Shukrijumah has managed to elude authorities since Khalid Sheikh Mohammed first fingered him as a terrorist operative under interrogation in 2003. Sightings have been reported in the U.S. and Central America -- Subway sandwich shops in both nations, specifically -- but his whereabouts remain unknown.