Tags: 'Credible' | Threat | for | Saturday

No 'Credible' Threat for Saturday

Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM

However, the department believes "associates" of last week's hijackers are still loose in the United States, she added.

"We don't have any credible evidence of any threat on Sept. 22," Tucker said. " … There has been a lot of information pertaining to Sept. 22. We have taken a look at that information" and now believe that intelligence to be mistaken.

That doesn't mean the threat is over, however. Even though 19 hijacking suspects died in last week's attacks, "We believe there are associates of the hijackers that have connections to terrorist networks that may be present in the United States," Tucker said.

No suspect has been charged directly with last week's terror attacks in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, Tucker and other officials said during a briefing Wednesday evening. However, the number of people questioned during the massive FBI probe who wound up being detained by immigration officials because of problems with their immigration status has grown.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service is now holding 115 people who have been caught up in the probe, Tucker said, up from 75 on Tuesday.

Three aliens caught up in the investigation were charged in Detroit Tuesday with carrying false immigration identification, the Justice Department said earlier Wednesday.

But an FBI affidavit filed in Detroit said among the papers found in the men's home was a day planner referring to American bases in Turkey, and sketches of "what appeared to be a diagram of an airport flight line, to include aircraft and runways."

Besides the false IDs, the FBI found a false passport, Social Security card and visa issued to a "Michael Saisa" in the men's apartment, again according to the affidavit. One of the arrested men told the FBI, and federal officials subsequently confirmed, that the documents were false.

The man told the agents that Saisa had been a former occupant of their home and had left the material in his care.

The affidavit said the man told the agents he did not know where Saisa was.

However, the three men were charged only with possessing the false immigration IDs.

It was the first time the Justice Department had confirmed arrests on criminal charges in the massive probe. The department has said two other men in New York were arrested on material witness warrants, and FBI Director Robert Mueller has confirmed that a "number" of such warrants have been issued.

The Detroit News said the men, reportedly from Algeria and Morocco, "may have links to an aborted attack last year on a U.S. military base in Turkey and American government officials in that nation."

However, the FBI in Washington said it could not confirm that theory.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Virginia Morgan ordered Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 21, Ahmed Hannan, 33, and Karim Koubriti, 23, held without bond until a hearing Friday, the News said, after a court-appointed defense lawyer for the men asked for the delay.

The newspaper said FBI agents "found the men about 3 a.m. Tuesday in a southwest Detroit home. The agents were looking for Nabil Al-Marabh, who is believed to have links to Osama bin Laden, the government's top suspect in the last week's attacks that killed about 5,000.

"When agents arrived at the Detroit home, they didn't find Al-Marabh, one of about 200 people on the FBI's list of suspects and key witnesses to the attack conspiracy," the paper said. "Instead, they found the three men with documents in Arabic that may be related to the foiled attack in Turkey."

However, the FBI in Washington said Wednesday the more than 200 names on its "watch list" are not suspects at this time, simply the names of people agents would like to interview. The affidavit, on the other hand, identified Al-Marabh as being on a list "of suspects, potential associates of the suspects and potential witnesses."

The affidavit also made no link between Al-Marabh and bin Laden.

All three men denied knowledge of Al-Marabh, even though his name was on the mailbox of their residence. They said they had only moved in within the last couple of weeks.

The affidavit said Hannan and Koubriti had identification badges for LSG Sky Chefs, an airline caterer at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The men told the FBI they formerly worked as dishwashers for LSG at Detroit's Metro Airport but had no access to aircraft.

The men said they were now working for a different company.

Meanwhile, the FBI said it was following up on 112,000 tips and leads from its Web site, field offices and hotline number, 1-866-483-5137.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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However, the department believes associates of last week's hijackers are still loose in the United States, she added. We don't have any credible evidence of any threat on Sept. 22, Tucker said. … There has been a lot of information pertaining to Sept. 22. We have...
Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM
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