Eva Knott 10:44 a.m., May 18
Ex-La Mesa Gas Station Owner Who Hired 9/11 Hijacker Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Charges
Osama Mahmud “Sam” Mustafa--who gained notoriety here after it came to light that one of the September 11, 2001 hijackers worked in a gas station he owned in La Mesa--is back in the news again.
Mustafa, 49, who now lives in Riverview, Florida, along with co-defendants Khaldoun "Tony" Khalil Khawaja, of Tampa, and Khawaja's brother, Muawia "Mike" Khalil Abdeljalil, a Virginia resident, were indicted by a federal grant jury for conspiracy to profit from a trade in fraudulent tax refund checks, along with various money laundering and related fraud charges, according to a news release yesterday from the office of the U.S. Attorney General, Western District of Virginia.
"The defendants are charged with purchasing fraudulent income tax return checks and checks issued for Refund Anticipation Loans and then presenting those fraudulent checks for payment at financial institutions in the Western District of Virginia, the Middle District of Florida and elsewhere," the release says.
"In all, the defendants are accused of fraudulently depositing more than $17.5 million as a result of the scheme."
"Each defendant was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for the purpose of impairing the lawful functions of the Internal Revenue Service, to receive fraudulent Treasury checks, to commit wire fraud and to structure currency transactions, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering."
9/11 hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi was found to have worked at Mustafa's "Sam's StarMart" gas station on Spring Street in La Mesa, according to a highly critical congressional review of the FBI's monitoring of the terrorists in the months leading up to the attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington.
San Diego FBI Special Agent in Charge at the time Bill Gore, currently sheriff of San Diego county, later became enmeshed in the controversy.
Mustafa denied knowing anything about the planned attacks and was not charged with a crime.
He now owns small businesses in the Tampa area, including an auto repair operation, where the crimes are alleged to have taken place.