To his sister, Adnan El Shukrijumah was a joker, always cracking people up. When their father was away from their Broward County home, he became a benevolent father figure, chaperoning his five siblings on trips to the beach.
"He was never serious or angry," said Aidah El Shukrijumah, 20, who just graduated from Broward Community College.
U.S. officials say the oldest brother is one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, a top al-Qaida operative plotting a new wave of attacks on America.
In a news conference Wednesday, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller identified El Shukrijumah as one of seven wanted terror suspects. Authorities say El Shukrijumah is about 5 feet 5, 132 pounds or more, with a Mediterranean complexion, black hair, black eyes and occasionally a beard. He may be carrying passports from Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Canada.
In March 2003, a week after the Iraq invasion, the FBI first announced El Shukrijumah was wanted for questioning because his name surfaced in interrogations of captured al-Qaida mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
FBI officials said then that El Shukrijumah could be the next Mohammed Atta, notorious ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers. They said he attended terrorist camps in Afghanistan, was an explosives expert and was adept at flying. FBI counterterrorism chief Pat D'Amuro told 60 Minutes II last year that El Shukrijumah "would rate in the top five" of the most wanted al-Qaida operatives in the world.
Nonsense, said family members in Miramar, just north of the Miami-Dade-Broward county line. They said he didn't know how to fly a plane. They contended he was a devout family man, not a wild-eyed terrorist.
"I don't think he would do anything like that," his sister said Wednesday.
Adnan El Shukrijumah was one of six children raised in Saudi Arabia. The family moved to Trinidad so their father, Gulshair, could spread the word of Islam.
The family moved to New York, where their father led a Brooklyn mosque that was attended by at least one suspect from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. In 1995, their father's search for warmer weather brought them to Florida, where they helped start a small mosque called Masid Al'Hijrah.
Federal officials noted last year a string of suspicious coincidences: the hijacker who flew the plane into the Pentagon had stayed just three miles from the family; a flight school used by two more hijackers wasn't far away; Jose Padilla, suspected of plotting to set off a dirty radiological bomb, attended a mosque El Shukrijumah visited.
At Broward Community College, El Shukrijumah studied computer science for two years. He also befriended Imran Mandhai, one of two Florida college students later convicted of conspiring unsuccessfully to bomb various targets, including Mount Rushmore.
His family says they haven't seen him in three years, since a few months before the Sept. 11.
The last time they heard from him was in late 2002. He was living in Morocco with his wife and baby, running an import-export business and teaching English.
Their father lost his position at the mosque because of his son's notoriety, and suffered two small strokes. He still has not recovered from those, said Aida El Shukrijumah, "and he's got to put up with this now."
- Staff researcher Kitty Bennett contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.