US officials say Aafia Siddiqui eluded them until last month when she was arrested with an unidentified teenage boy in Ghazni, Afghanistan. Local police caught the two outside the provincial governor's compound with chemicals, maps, and documents on explosives, according to court papers. "They were here for suicide bombing," an Afghan official in Ghazni told the Globe in a telephone interview last week. "Both of them were looking like they were prepared for suicide."
People in the neighborhood who remember Alkifah Center say it appeared to be a shoestring operation, although court papers suggest that tens of thousands of dollars flowed through its bank accounts in its heyday in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
It was this ramshackle office that the Government says evolved into the American outpost of Mr. bin Laden's international terrorist organization. Federal charges relating to the embassy bombings in Africa assert that his group ''grew out of'' an organization that had offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan and, after 1989, in the United States. Specifically, the Government said, the network's connection to the United States evolved from Alkifah Center.
The center was set up by Mustafa Shalabi, an Egyptian immigrant. As his former neighbors recall him, Mr. Shalabi was infused with the same religious fervor for the Afghan cause that galvanized many young Muslims who regarded it as a holy war to liberate a Muslim country from Communist domination.
One of those who answered the call to fight in Afghanistan was Mahmud Abouhalima, who was active in militant Islamic movements in his native Egypt before moving to West Germany in 1981 and to New York four years later. Mr. Abouhalima would later become a well-known figure in New York as one of the men accused in the World Trade Center bombing. Shortly after his arrest in that case, he met with Government investigators without his lawyer and provided a detailed account of Alkifah Refugee Center and its internecine rivalries.