By Ed Brock
A former Jonesboro resident who is a "person of interest" to the Atlanta Joint Terrorism Task Force has been indicted on a weapons charge by a federal grand jury.
The grand jury issued the indictment against 35-year-old Zayead Christopher Hajaig, aka Barry John Felton, on Wednesday, charging him with three counts of being an illegal alien in possession of three separate weapons, according to the office of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia David Nahmias.
Hajaig was mentioned in a law enforcement Special Alert Bulletin earlier this month after a report that he was in the country illegally and tried to push for an upgrade in his pilot's license while training at a Gwinnett County flight school.
The new indictment claims that Hajaig possessed a Norinco SKS rifle, a Romarm Cugir rifle and a MAS rifle. All of them are semi-automatic rifles.
On Tuesday the Cobb County Police Department dive team, at the request of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, searched the Chattahoochee River for guns that supposedly belonged to Hajaig, according to FBI Special Agent Steve Lazarus.
"As part of an ongoing investigation, JTTF agents discovered Hajaig may have possessed a number of weapons, and that one or more of those weapons may have been disposed of in the Chattahoochee River," Lazarus said in a statement.
The divers did recover a handgun believed to be Hajaig's and two other weapons linked to Hajaig were discovered previously in other locations. Lazarus said the FBI would not comment beyond the written statement on the search for the guns.
Hajaig is believed to be in the United Kingdom where he has been questioned by authorities, Lazarus said, and the investigation continues.
According to Nahmias' office some U.S. citizens told Hajaig that task force agents had been asking about his whereabouts and Hajaig "immediately fled the country and is currently a fugitive."
Hajaig, a British national born in Nigeria, reportedly had pushed to have his pilot rating upgraded while training at Astron Enterprises at Briscoe Field in Gwinnett County.
Dale Strickland, owner of Astron Enterprises, said Hajaig had flown with his school off and on for about two and a half years and had returned to the United Kingdom about 10 days ago to take care of personal business.
He didn't know much about the allegations made about Hajaig except that they were made independently by a part-time instructor at the school. Strickland said he didn't think Hajaig is a terrorist and called him "a pretty decent guy."
Hajaig's immigration papers had expired but he entered the country legally, Strickland said. Also, Hajaig returned to the United Kingdom to handle some personal business.
Strickland said Hajaig had given them a Jonesboro address when first coming to the school and reportedly he lived on Peridot Court in Jonesboro. A woman living at the Peridot Court address said previously that she has no comment on the investigation.
Nahmias' office claimed that Hajaig had no known source of income and used calling cards to communicate with associates. They list his known aliases as Zayead Christopher Haijag, Christopher Haijag, David Haijag and Alex Haiaig.
Any contact made with Zayead Christopher Hajaig should be immediately reported to the Atlanta JTTF at (404) 679-9000 and ask for Special Agent Stuart Franco or Special Agent Jodene Weber.