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Accused terrorist co-worker speaks about Bell

5:16 PM, Jul 20, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Accused of wanting to work with Al'qaeda Sheldon Bell, the 19-year old Jacksonville man indicted on terrorism charges Thursday, worked at a Northside flea market.

Jim Burke has sold oils and candles at the flea market for 3 years. 

He took over the space vacated by Sheldon Bell, who had a booth there for more than a year. 

"He [Bell] fixed computers, he worked on computers, I guess he was very good at it,  from what I understand, he had a lot of customers I know that much," Burke said. 

In a 13-page indictment, Bell is accused by the U.S. Government of leasing a computer when he traveled to Jordan last fall, and downloaded Al-Qa'da training materials.

He is also accused of researching the country of Yemen where he wanted to go to participate as a fighter with Ansar al-Sharia, a new alias for Al-Qa'ida.

It was a few months after Bell went overseas, in early January, Burke says the FBI showed up at Bell's booth with K9s, checking for possible bombs.

Burke said he never heard Bell talk of violence.  

"He talked about his religion so on and so forth, but  the other stuff, he never said a word about that stuff," Bell said. 

Another vendor who, wished to remain anonymous, said Bell kept copies of the Koran in his booth and talked about it often. One time he asked that vendor to study it and said if he didn't, Bell would consider him his enemy.    

Bell's conversations about violence and Jihad at the Islamic Center with teenagers there led the center's leaders to contact the FBI last summer which likely got this investigation underway. 

"It goes against everything that we believe in ,against everything Islam believes and preaches , Islam is a faith of peace. And tolerance and working with people in whichever societies we are," said Ahmed.   

Burke says he never would have thought a suspected terrorist was working alongside him.

"Terrorism? No that caught me by surprise," Burke said.

First Coast News

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