DENVER (CBS4) – In 2002 James Ujaama was taken into custody in the Denver area in an investigation that was part of the War on Terror. Ujaama was convicted of aiding the Taliban.
Now, with the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan, CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviewed Ujaama in Saudi Arabia over the internet as he looked back on his headline-making case.
“I regret that I even pled guilty,” Ujaama said, adding “I was charged with helping a man cross into Afghanistan and to essentially become a suicide bomber.”
But he says that man was not a bomber.
“Did you supply cash, computer assistance and fighters to the Taliban?” Sallinger asked Ujaama.
“I never supplied fighters to the Taliban,” he replied. He insists he provided money for girls and widows.
He also was convicted of setting up a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon.
“We did nothing that white boys don’t do all the time. They came after us because we were black, we rode horses, we shot guns. That was it,” Ujaama said.
The U.S. government prosecutors agreed to a sentence of time already served and indicated his testimony in other cases had helped them.
Now, after a 20 year war, the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan and Ujaama is looking back at his arrest.
“Being told ‘Get on the ground. Get on the ground!’ … having guns pointed at you,” he said.
He was taken into custody in Denver at first as a material witness.
“I was kidnapped from Colorado, taken to Virginia and I was transported by car by going from one small cell to another cell to another.”
Years earlier, Ujaama was seen on a video defending the leader of Al Qaeda.
“Sheikh Osama bin Laden was framed and forced into isolation.”
Once a close associate of London cleric Abu Hamza al Masri, Ujaama testified against him. But he says even now he is still treated like a terrorist.
“I am harassed every time I go to the airport by TSA and Customs and Border Patrol.”
Tens of thousands have fled that country fearing retribution for aiding America. CBS4 reached Ujaama in Saudi Arabia via Zoom, but he still considers America his home.
“They won’t leave me alone and I don’t feel peace until I’m out of the country,” he said.
After serving 6 years in prison, Ujaama says he has spent his time studying and now has a three masters degrees and a PhD.
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