Skip to comments.Arrested Men's Shaved Bodies Drew Suspicion of the F.B.I.
Posted on 10/26/2001 1:12:17 AM PDT by sarcasm
Ayub Ali Khan, left, and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath were taken off a train in Texas on Sept. 12.
hen two Indian men were arrested in Texas the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the F.B.I. found that both had shaved most of the hair on their bodies.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations interpreted the closely cut hair, and otherwise shaven bodies, as a possible sign that the men, Ayub Ali Khan and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, might have been ready to die in a similar attack, and were "prepared to meet Allah," one bureau official said.
This created suspicions, still unconfirmed, that the men, who carried box cutters and $5,500 in cash, might have been part of a failed hijacking team, officials said.
The F.B.I.'s concerns about Mr. Khan and Mr. Azmath, who had flown out of Newark on the morning of the hijackings, grew after agents recovered letters instructing some of the suspected hijackers to "shave excess hair from the body" as they prepared for the suicide missions, the officials said.
Mr. Khan and Mr. Azmath were "extremely nervous" when police officers approached them on a train in Fort Worth, according to an arrest report released yesterday by the Fort Worth police. The report also revealed that Mr. Azmath was carrying a pocket knife and that the men's luggage contained receipts showing that they had recently received transfers of money.
One Muslim leader said yesterday that shaving one's body was not a common practice in his religion. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Islamic advocacy organization based in Washington, said pilgrims to Mecca sometimes cut their hair short or shaved their scalps but not their entire bodies.
"Nothing in the Koran or the teachings of the Prophet talks of this," he said. "It really makes no sense." He said it might be explainable only by "the mentality of cult."
F.B.I. officials said they initially suspected that Mr. Khan and Mr. Azmath could have been part of a team meant to hijack the plane they took from Newark, Trans World Airlines Flight 679, or another airliner. But they said they did not find any other passengers on the T.W.A. flight that resembled the profiles of the suspected hijackers.
Neither Mr. Khan, 34, nor Mr. Azmath, 32, has been charged with any crime in connection with the terrorist plots, and no proof has emerged that either man even knew any of the suspected hijackers.
Both men are being held in jail in New York as material witnesses in the investigation, although authorities said they had not provided much cooperation.
When the two were taken off the train in Fort Worth on Sept. 12, they told police officers they were headed for San Antonio to visit a friend and start a fruit stand.
The report said Mr. Azmath quickly denied any role in the terrorist attacks, saying, "I did not have anything to do with New York."
But the report, prepared by a Fort Worth police sergeant, Brad S. Johnson, ticked off several other reasons why the men, who boarded the train in St. Louis after their flight was grounded, seemed suspicious.
The report said the police officers, who were working on an antidrug task force, were interested in the men because they had bought their tickets at the last minute with cash, a practice common among drug couriers. Both men were asleep when the train arrived in Fort Worth, Sergeant Johnson noted. Once the police awakened them, an artery on Mr. Azmath's neck began "visibly pulsating" and his forehead got sweaty, while Mr. Kahn's hands trembled, the report said.
It also said the men had receipts showing that they had received money transfers, although the officials would not say who had sent the money or how much was involved.
Mr. Azmath told the officers that he earned only $300 a week at a newsstand in Newark where he and Mr. Khan had worked until late August.
Two boxcutters and $2,400 of the cash were in a new black briefcase with a combination lock that belonged to Mr. Kahn. In addition to the pocket knife, the report said, Mr. Azmath carried nearly $3,200 in cash and photocopies of multiple passports depicting him in various guises: with a full beard; a mustache; and clean shaven, both with and without glasses. Yet, the report said, Mr. Azmath answered "no" when asked if he was carrying knives or a large amount of money.
In an interview yesterday, Sergeant Johnson said that immigration agents detained the men over the validity of their passports.
Since then, the F.B.I. has also been examining how Mr. Khan and Mr. Azmath amassed $64,000 to send home to relatives in their native India in 1999, especially given Mr. Azmath's statement that he had earned only $300 a week.
Late last week, federal prosecutors charged Mohammad Aslam Pervez, a third man who had shared a Jersey City apartment with Mr. Khan and Mr. Azmath, with lying about more than $100,000 that had flowed in and out of his bank account.
Richard L. Gruber, a lawyer for the newsstand company, said most of Mr. Pervez's checks and money orders were related to his attempts to buy part of that business.
The F.B.I. also recently tested the Jersey City apartment for signs of anthrax, and its agents have looked into a tip that Mr. Azmath may have been seen in 1993, around the time of the van-bombing of the World Trade Center, in an apartment with a man who was later convicted in the assault. But officials said they doubted that Mr. Azmath had any connection to that attack.
1. Why aren't these two undergoing torture right now?
Bin Laden has nuclear material and we are still playing "nice and PC". Disgusting.
Then again, they may not have been planning to die, just part of the hi jack crew. The head man (pilot) may not have made the flight that day for whatever reason. With out him, these guys may have had no idea what was going on. Just there to help a fellow muslim and all that stuff. If this is true, then they may not have much to tell; as they never knew the plan.
There could be several uses for the money. The money could have been for bribing airline security to get past the check-in, or get luggage put onto the plane. Or they could have also been carrying the money to hand off to someone else before boarding. Or finally, it could be part of a backup plan to use to escape if something went wrong.
So do competitive swimmers. Perhaps they were all gay competitive swimmers.
There are women who don't shave these days? Oh wait, you're British aren't you? :-}
That's an interesting idea especially after reading that some of the other 'hijackers' may have been duped. They may have been two more dupes, huh?
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