Skip to comments.First criminal charges filed as FBI finds airport diagrams in Detroit residence
Posted on 09/19/2001 6:08:12 PM PDT by sarcasmEdited on 04/13/2004 2:06:49 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
WASHINGTON -- Attorney General John Ashcroft said Wednesday the terrorists behind the attacks on the United States likely received support from foreign governments and that it was too early to tell if surprise arrests in Michigan were a major break in the case.
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
The Nation (Nairobi)
September 20, 2001
Posted to the web September 19, 2001
The son of a Kenyan MP was among 75 people rounded up in the United States for questioning about last week's terrorists attacks, it was revealed yesterday.
He was arrested because he appeared in a photograph with one of the suicide hijackers, but it was not immediately known which one, sources said.
The man, whose father represents a constituency in North East Province, was arrested in Texas.
Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed they had received a report of the arrest but were unable to give any further details, including the town or city where the man was seized.
Ministry officials said the MP had been seeking their help since Monday in getting more information about his son's arrest, but to no avail.
They revealed however that the young man was not being considered as a material witness - a person who has information on the crime.
"They are holding him on suspicion that he may know something about one of the hijackers," the officials said.
Three hijacked passenger jets were used in the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington that left nearly 6,000 people either dead or missing. A fourth hijacked jet crashed near Pittsburgh, killing all on board. It was believed to be heading for Camp David, the US President's weekend retreat.
Sources said the Kenyan was only one of an estimated 75 people being questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in what the US Attorney General John Ashcroft described as the 'largest criminal investigation in the history of this country."
More than 4,000 FBI agents were reported to be working on the case.
Efforts to get information from the FBI were met by various spokesmen who gave the official line "the Bureau is not at liberty to release any information about any of the suspects."
Kenyan High Commissioner Dr Yusuf Nzibo, based in Washington DC, said he was unaware of the arrest.
"It could happen since most of the Kenyans in this country have not registered with our office. We have not been informed of any arrest and will make inquiries," Dr Nzibo said.
News of the Kenyan's arrest came as FBI agents arrested three men in Detroit who were allegedly found with false identification papers plus notes about an American base in Turkey and a Jordanian airport.
The three, from Algeria and Morocco, were arrested early on Tuesday while the FBI was searching for a fourth man, Mr Nabil Al-Marabh, who is believed to have links to Mr Osama bin Laden, the top suspect in the attacks, who was also held responsible for the bomb blasts at the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar in 1998 and the attack in Yemen harbour on the destroyer USS Cole.
The men, two of whom previously worked for an airline meal service at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, were formally charged on Tuesday with possession of false identification papers, including passports, social security cards and visas, according to an affidavit obtained by the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press newspapers.
Mr Al-Marabh, one of about 200 people on the FBI's list of suspects and key witnesses to last week's attacks, was not at home at the time of the arrests, the newspapers said. The three men denied knowing Mr Al-Marabh.
US magistrate Judge Virginia Morgan ordered Mr Karim Koubriti, 23, Mr Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 21, and Mr Ahmed Hannan, 33, to be held without bond until a hearing tomorrow.
Agents found ID badges for an airline caterer at Detroit airport at the home in southwest Detroit where the men were seized. Mr Hannan and Mr Koubriti worked as dishwashers from May to July this year, the newspapers said.
During a search of the home, federal agents allegedly found a notebook with notations in Arabic related to an American base in Turkey, the "American foreign minister," and to Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital Amman. The notebook also contained a sketch of an airplane servicing area and runways.
Sources close to the case said federal officials were investigating whether the three men had ties to a failed terrorist plot involving the American military base in Incirlik, Turkey.
Saudi officials and media cast doubt on the credibility of a list of 19 suspects named by US investigators as suicide hijackers, saying some of them were still alive and innocent.
The FBI last week identified 19 men as hijackers, including seven trained pilots, who it said commandeered the four passenger jets used in the attacks that left nearly 6,000 were dead and missing.
Although the FBI list did not provide the nationalities of the suspects, Gulf States officials and analysts said in Dubai that the family names appeared to indicate that many of them were Saudis.
The haste in publishing the names of suspects in the attacks has made the media fall into the error of involving innocent people, especially Saudis, who later proved that they were innocent," said Prince Mit'eb bin Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, deputy commander of the Saudi National Guards.
A Saudi Foreign Ministry official said they had doubts about the list "because many of those implicated have turned out to be alive here or elsewhere."
Saudi newspapers have published interviews and pictures of at least five of those who appeared on the FBI list since it was released last Friday.
Many Saudis share the same name, reflecting their common membership of large tribes. But some who share the same name as the suspects were alarmed to see their own faces staring back at them from newspapers and television networks which published photographs and personal details of the alleged hijackers.
"The name is my name and the birth date is the same as mine, but I am not the one who bombed the World Trade Centre in New York," said Mr Abdulaziz Alomari, one of the suspects on the list.
During a search of the men's home on Monday, the terrorism task force found a day planner with notations in Arabic related to an "American base in Turkey," to "the American foreign minister," and to Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, the affidavit said. The notebook also included a sketched diagram of an airplane servicing area and runways. The affidavit doesn't say which airport.
Investigators also said they found several fraudulent identification documents including a passport, Social Security card and U.S. immigration papers, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, Detroit-based agents of the federal joint task force went to the rental flat in the 2600 block of Norman Street on Monday looking for al-Marabh. Agents said they knocked and Koubriti invited them inside. Hannan and Ali-Haimoud were also there.
The men, who said they had only lived in the flat for two weeks, denied knowing al-Marabh, according to the affidavit. He may have been a previous resident, they said.
In plain sight, federal agents said, they saw two Sky Chefs identification badges for Detroit Metro in the names of Koubriti and Hannan. Hannan and Koubriti said they had previously worked for Sky Chefs but were currently employed at a firm called Technicolor in Livonia.
Technicolor is one of the largest manufacturers of motion picture videotapes in the world. Richard Knoph, a spokesman for Thomson Multi Media, which owns Technicolor, said it appears Hannan and Koubriti worked for a temporary employment company that placed them at the Livonia facility putting together cardboard boxes for shipping DVDs and videos. He said that his company has not been contacted by any state or federal law-enforcement officials.
Sky Chefs spokesman Bill Slay said Hannan and Koubriti worked for his company at Metro as dishwashers between May and July. Both men applied for leaves of absence for non-work-related injuries and never returned to work. They also never returned the Sky Chefs employee badges that gave them access to the company building at Metro, he said.
But Slay said the badges did not give them access to airplanes.
"They would not have been allowed access to trucks, ramp areas or aircraft," Slay said. "We try to confiscate those badges when employees leave but, when they don't come back, it's difficult sometimes."
Sky Chefs, which is based in Arlington, Texas, conducts local criminal background checks for its dishwashers. Employees with access to aircraft are subjected to five-year criminal background checks. But Slay said he did not know whether the five-year checks were of local or national criminal records.
Sky Chefs employs 42,000 people worldwide.
Neighbors in the quiet working-class neighborhood where the men were arrested were surprised that a federal investigation had come to their block.
Ali Altalaqani, 31, and his wife Halema, 31, said FBI agents showed up at their home about about 10 p.m. Monday asking if they ever had contact with the men. They had not.
The couple said the three men moved into the flat above them two weeks ago after a middle-aged widow and her two sons and daughter moved out.
"I feel bad . . . I live in a quiet neighborhood," he said. "I'm afraid now."
Altalaqani, who immigrated to the United States in 1993 and is now a citizen, said America has been good to him and his family. The bombing of the World Trade Center distressed him, he said. "I'm sorry about this happening. It hurt me so much."
In other local developments:
A 42-year-old Ann Arbor man, Mohammed Alahmari, said through a spokesman Tuesday that he was questioned by the FBI on Sunday and was on the agency's list of about 200 people it wants to question.
The spokesman, who did not want his name used because he said he fears reprisals, said FBI agents told Alahmari the listing was a mistake and they would try to have his name removed.
Clenney, the FBI spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Alahmari, whose name appears as Mohammed H. al-Ahmari on the FBI list, is president of the Islamic Assembly of North America in Ypsilanti. The spokesman said the group is a nonprofit religious organization dedicated to educating people about Islam.
Alahmari's spokesman speculated that the FBI wanted to talk to Alahmari because he is a Muslim leader. He said Alahmari has no ties to terrorist Osama bin Laden, who has been identified as the chief suspect in last week's attacks, and emphasized that Muslims condemn terrorism.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said the government was looking for about 200 people on a list distributed across the country. Officials have said that not all of them may have been directly involved in the attacks, but may simply have information that would be helpful.
A Sky Chefs spokesperson said that the employee badges do not allow all employees access to planes. However, workers told WDIV Tuesday that it is possible to get into restricted areas with only an employee ID.
Hannan and Koubriti reportedly told investigators that they once worked at the airport, and that the documents belonged to someone else. The men worked as dishwashers for two months before they stopped coming to work, officials said.
The two suspects have been working at Technicolor in Livonia, Mich., since September assembling boxes for videocassette tapes, WDIV reported. A spokesperson there said that the men were at work on Monday.
FBI agents also found a planner inside the home that the men shared that contained notes referring to the "American military base in Turkey," "Alia Airport in Jordan" and the "American foreign minister," in Arabic handwriting.
Investigators also said that they found diagrams of the airport, including flight lines and aircraft.
Neighbors said that the men had lived in the home for about two years. Agents had gone to the home searching for Almarabh when they allegedly discovered the three suspects and fake documents.
Neighbors said that Almarabh had moved about two years ago. He was on a list of about 200 people whom government agents want to interview in connection with the four airplane hijackings and attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
A spokesman for the Texas-based LSG Sky Chefs says that Koubriti and Hannan worked for about two or three months this year at the company's Metro Airport operation.
He said that the men's company identification badges would only allow them access to those facilities, which are not located on airport property.
The suspects are in the custody of U.S. Marshals and are due back in court on Friday.
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
BY KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN
LANSING, Mich. -- A man being sought in Michigan as part of the terrorism investigation obtained duplicate driver's licenses Monday and last month, according to Michigan Secretary of State records.
Nabil Al-Marabh, 34, obtained a duplicate driver's license Monday at the Three Oaks branch in Berrien County near the Michigan-Indiana border, according to state records. He got the license on the same day federal agents raided a Detroit house with his name on the mailbox.
Al-Marabh also obtained a duplicate license from the Detroit Vernor branch on Aug. 7, state records show.
Al-Marabh first obtained a chauffeur's license in Michigan on Aug. 31, 2000. He holds a commercial driver's license and is certified to transport hazardous materials.
FBI agents were looking for Al-Marabh Monday when they raided a residence in Detroit. They didn't find Al-Marabh, but ended up arresting three resident aliens from Morocco and Algeria after discovering false visas, passports, Social Security cards and other identification, said Gina Balaya, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office.
Arrested were Karim Koubriti, 23; Ahmed Hannan, 33; and Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 21.
Koubriti and Ali-Haimoud were issued Michigan chauffeur's licenses in 2000, while Hannan got a chauffeur's license in May of this year. Koubriti also holds a commercial license allowing him to drive trucks and other large vehicles, secretary of state records show.
None of the four men own a vehicle in Michigan, although records show Ali-Haimoud owned a vehicle at one point and sold it.
According to the Boston Globe, Al-Marabh was convicted Dec. 15 in South Boston District Court of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He failed to show up to serve his sentence in March, and has been missing since.
Al-Marabh has three points on his Michigan license from four traffic offenses in Massachusetts, where he lived in the community of Dorchester between 1989 and 2000.
The offenses include a May 1996 ticket for speeding; an October 1996 ticket for speeding and disobeying a stop sign; an April 1997 ticket for improper passing; and an April 2000 ticket for disobeying a stop sign.
The three men arrested Monday have clean driving records.
To get a chauffeur's license in Michigan, drivers must take a special written test and pay a $21 fee, said secretary of state spokeswoman Elizabeth Boyd.
To obtain a commercial driving license, drivers must pay $13 for an operator's license or $21 for a chauffeur's license, plus $20 to get the commercial license. Special endorsements, such as one to transport hazardous materials, cost extra and require the drivers to pass additional tests.
Drivers must be at least 18 to drive commercial trucks within Michigan and at least 21 to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines. Those transporting hazardous materials in amounts that require posted warnings also must be 21.
The informant himself is a suspect in the failed "millennium bombing" plot last year to kill American tourists in Jordan.
Al-Marabh told his former landlord that he was a truck driver, and he is licensed in Michigan to haul hazardous waste, according to Local First News.
The suspect also has ties to the Boston area, where one of the four planes hijacked last week departed from.
Three men were arrested with false immigration papers, airport diagrams and documents relating to a military base after police raided a home looking for Nabil Al-Marabh, one of nearly 200 witnesses being sought in the investigation.
By the way, why would a radiologist doing an internship at the University of Texas in Austin work for the week preceding Sept. 11 at the medical center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio? Does anybody know what's up there? Any connection with the suspects who took the train to San Antonio?
That's a long drive, from Arlington, TX to Laurel, MD.
See article in reply #20. This appears to be a name identity error, but one never knows...
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