MANILA -- The Philippines said yesterday it will deport two American brothers arrested two weeks ago for suspected links to local Muslim militants and charities linked to Al Qaeda. One of the brothers is a former technician at a US nuclear weapons lab.
A spokeswoman at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, outside San Francisco, said Michael Ray Stubbs, 55, who was arrested with his brother James on Dec. 13 southwest of Manila, worked at the lab as a heating and air conditioning technician for about 10 years ending in 2000. She said the FBI was looking into whether he had access to sensitive information.
Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo said at a Manila news conference that James Stubbs met with members of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group and the Muslim rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front, two groups loosely linked by Philippine officials to Al Qaeda.
During the press conference, the brothers stood behind Domingo, handcuffed.
"These are all fabricated lies," James Stubbs shouted as Domingo spoke. He told reporters he was in the Philippines to be with his pregnant Filipino wife.
The brothers, born in Missouri, will be deported to the United States as "undesirable aliens . . . based on intelligence reports that they were seen meeting with known leaders of various terrorist cells in the country with links to Al Qaeda," the immigration bureau said.
Domingo said the brothers arrived on tourist visas but also carried documents indicating they were soliciting funds for the construction of Muslim schools and mosques.
According to Philippine military intelligence reports, James Stubbs's local contacts asked him for assistance in getting money from US-based Muslim groups, purportedly for helping Muslim communities in the southern Philippines.
Domingo said there was no evidence linking the two to any past or planned terrorist plots, but said James Stubbs allegedly called for the overthrow of the US government in statements to local authorities.
"They're violating immigration laws and they're being charged and they are going through immigration proceedings," Domingo said. She said the two would be deported to the United States in January.
A naval intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said US officials were concerned that Michael Ray Stubbs may have passed sensitive information to his brother from the weapons lab in Livermore, Calif.
"We have been working closely with the FBI on this issue since he was arrested in the Philippines a few weeks ago," said lab spokeswoman Susan Houghton. The lab terminated Stubbs's clearance after he left on medical leave in March 2000.
The US Embassy declined to comment on the allegations. Spokeswoman Karen Kelley said the brothers have hired lawyers to address the charges.
According to Philippine military intelligence reports, James Stubbs met in May with several charity groups suspected of being Al Qaeda fronts and founded by Mahmoud Afif Abdeljalil, believed to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law.