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Musa Smith: Georgia RB suffers as father's dark secret is revealed

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

By Paul Newberry, The Associated Press

ATHENS, Ga. -- Musa Smith didn't tell anyone about his father's misdeeds when he got to Georgia.

Not his coaches. Not his teammates.

"It was in the past," said Smith, a junior running back. "I dealt with it in the past."

Even after the events of Sept. 11, Smith managed to keep anyone in Athens from finding out that his father's Pennsylvania farm was once dubbed "Camp Terror," a place where Islamic radicals were allegedly trained to wreak havoc on America.

"He's so quiet," Coach Mark Richt said. "I had no idea."

Now, it's all out in the open. Kelvin Smith spoke for the first time in a decade about his supposed ties to terrorism, putting an uncomfortable spotlight on his soft-spoken son.

"I'm not really happy about it coming up," said Musa Smith, a key player for the nation's No. 9 team.

The elder Smith, also known as Abdul Muhaimin in court documents, discussed his past in an interview in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine. A decade ago, Smith's farm was used as a training ground by Islamic extremists plotting to assassinate world leaders and blow up New York landmarks, including the United Nations and the Lincoln Tunnel.

Musa Smith was only 10 when federal investigators told his father the trainees were anti-American terrorists. Eight days later, Feb. 26, 1993, a Ryder truck exploded in the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring more than 1,000.

Kelvin Smith denies knowing anything about the terror plot but was later convicted of dumping assault rifles in a river and lying to investigators. As his son finished his junior year of high school, the elder Smith began his sentence of a year and a day behind bars.

When Musa Smith got to Georgia, he didn't tell anyone about his father's brush with terrorism. Even though the story was well publicized back home, it appears no one made the connection in Athens, a gossipy college town that seems to scrutinize every move of its beloved Dawgs.

"I asked him about it when the story came out and he was like, 'That was 10 years ago,' " Richt said. "It's such old news. It's really not fair to Musa. That part of his life is over with."

Smith was a big part of Georgia's offense as soon as he stepped on campus, rushing for 330 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. Fans chanted "Mooo-sa" every time he touched the ball.

Now, at least one teammate wonders if Smith will be treated so warmly by Bulldogs fans.

"He's dealt with it pretty well, but he's still got to go on with his day-to-day life," receiver Terrence Edwards said. "I worry about someone who's had a little too much to drink giving Musa a hard time about his beliefs or trying to punish Musa for what his dad did, even though he had nothing to do with it."

Teammate Jon Stinchcomb doesn't expect Smith to change, even if rival fans take advantage of the opportunity to unleash cruel taunts. "He's such a strong man. I know he's gone through some adversity, but his true colors came out. Musa is a great man and a great teammate."

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