Special Reports

Sniper suspect used fake IDs to enter Antigua, commission says

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua - the documentsJohn Allen Muhammad submitted to enter this Caribbean Island in 2000 and establish citizenship were clearly fraudulent, according to a preliminary report released Saturday by Antigua's attorney general.

It details yet another instance of alleged fakery by a man who appears to have spun a web of lies about himself while imagining outlandishly violent schemes in the years before the Washington, D.C.-area sniper attacks.

The report, prepared by a government-appointed commission looking into Muhammad's activities in Antigua, was submitted to Attorney General Gertel Thom, who presented the findings Saturday on government television. Thom said Muhammad, now 41, was able to enter Antigua and remain because of negligence by government workers and that his case illustrates flaws in Antigua's procedures for issuing citizenship.

If workers had been more diligent and detected Muhammad's alleged fakery, his application for an Antiguan passport and citizenship would have been rejected and he would have faced criminal charges, according to the commission, which included two local lawyers, a retired police officer and a Catholic priest.

The commission's chairman, John Fuller, said an anonymous source told members that in early 2001 Muhammad spoke of kidnapping Antigua's prime minister, Lester Bird, and holding him for ransom. Fuller said the idea apparently did not advance beyond the talking stage. "It was more like throwing out an idea - something to do to raise money," Fuller said in an interview.

He said the source, whom he described as credible, told the commission that Muhammad discussed taking other violent actions to raise money. Fuller would not elaborate.

It was during Muhammad's time in Antigua, 300 miles east of Puerto Rico, that he apparently developed a close relationship with young John Lee Malvo, who previously lived in Jamaica. The two moved in together here, most likely in late 2000 or early 2001, and later lived together in Washington state. From there, Muhammad and Malvo, now 17, embarked on a cross-country journey that allegedly culminated in October's sniper attacks.

The two have since been charged with murder and other crimes in shootings in four U.S. states, including most of the sniper attacks that killed 10 people and wounded three in the D.C. area last month. They have been identified as suspects in the other October sniper attacks and in several more shootings, including a Sept. 14 sniper attack that wounded a clerk at a Silver Spring liquor store.

The commission's report says that when Muhammad first arrived at Antigua's airport on March 28, 2000, he used aliases for himself and his three children, displayed what appeared to be a Wyoming driver's license under a false name and lied about where he planned to stay. The license said his name was Thomas Alan Lee. He filled out paperwork saying that his children were named Fred, Teresa and Lisa instead of their real names, the report says.

He reported to authorities they were going to stay with "Jeanette Reed," even though he had made plans to stay with Janet Greer, the cousin of an acquaintance.

Muhammad, a native of Louisiana, moved to Antigua while he and his wife, who lived in Washington state, were divorcing and she was supposed to have custody of the children. Muhammad said he had permission to take the youngsters to Antigua, but his estranged wife said he abducted them.

Muhammad's acquaintances on Antigua have said in interviews he made money providing fake documents to people seeking to enter the United States.

Monday, the government appointed the four-person commission to investigate how Muhammad was able to enter Antigua and gain citizenship, what Muhammad and Malvo did together on the island and whether Muhammad was engaged in supplying fraudulent documents to other people. FBI agents have joined the investigation, working with authorities in Antigua, according to officials here.

Thom said Malvo came to Antigua on July 9, 1999, following his mother, Una James, who arrived Jan. 15 of that year. Thom said that authorities are reviewing thousands of documents to determine when the two left Antigua. After James departed the island, leaving her son behind, the boy moved in with Muhammad, most likely in December 2000 or January 2001. By fall, Muhammad and Malvo had left the island and were in Washington state.