Tags: Ashcroft: | Death | Letters | Link | Hijackers

Ashcroft: Death Letters Link Hijackers

Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM

A copy of the letter was found in the misdirected luggage of suspect Mohamed Atta, believed killed when he and other hijackers flew an airliner out of Boston into the World Trade Center in New York City.

Another copy was found in a car left by suspect Nawaf Alhamzi at Dulles International Airport. Alhamzi and other suspected hijackers died when they allegedly forced a Los Angeles-bound flight into the Pentagon near Washington.

Yet a third copy was found in the wreckage of a hijacked airliner in rural Pennsylvania.

The finding "of these three separate letters is clear evidence linking the hijackers on Sept. 11," Ashcroft said at a news conference in FBI headquarters.

The letters appeared to be preparing their bearers for death in an Islamic cause. "It is a disturbing and shocking view of the minds of these terrorists," Ashcroft said, adding that the thoughts they expressed were "not representative of Muslims or the Islamic faith."

FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared with Ashcroft at the news conference. Mueller cautioned against singling out renegade Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, now in hiding in Afghanistan, as the sole perpetrator of the terror attacks.

"We have not ruled out the participation of other individuals and other organizations in that attack," he said.

On another investigation front, two of the three Arab men arrested last week in Detroit in a raid on the apartment of Nabil al-Marabh, an alleged associate of bin Laden, were indicted for possessing fake immigration papers and a false Social Security card.

Another Detroit man, Fadhil Al-Khaledy, was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago Thursday night after he arrived in the United States on a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight from Shannon, Ireland.

The FBI Friday said Al-Khaledy, 32, one of 20 men charged in an alleged conspiracy to fraudulently obtain Pennsylvania drivers licenses to haul hazardous materials, was not linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York.

He was to appear before federal Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys Friday afternoon, said FBI spokeswoman Mary Lynn Muha.

Al-Marabh, a Kuwaiti, had a fraudulent Michigan commercial truckers license to transport hazardous cargo like chemicals and toxic waste. He was arrested in Burbank, Ill., south of Chicago, on Sept. 20 at a liquor store where he had worked for a couple of weeks for $5 an hour. Al-Marabh was moved to New York City for questioning three days after his arrest.

Yet another man of Middle-Eastern origin, Raad Al-Malfy, was arrested in Chattanooga, Tenn., on the fraudulent license charge. Meanwhile, Elmeliani Benmoumen is also in custody, the department said. He is believed to be a middleman who assisted up to 20 men of Middle-Eastern background obtain Pennsylvania drivers licenses, so that they could obtain fraudulent licenses in Pittsburgh to transport hazardous materials, according to officials.

Abroad, Lofti Raissi was being held in Britain on two U.S. charges of making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements to investigators, the department said. However, a British prosecutor has been quoted as saying Raissi may have trained four terrorists who acted as pilots during the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.

So far, no one has been charged directly in the widespread conspiracy, though the FBI has released the apparent names and pictures of 19 men who hijacked four airliners for the Sept. 11 attacks. Two of the hijacked airliners were driven into the World Trade Center in New York City. One was driven into the Pentagon near Washington. The fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania, possibly after passengers rushed the hijackers in the cockpit.

The death toll is believed to be above 6,000.

Before Thursday night's apprehensions, the FBI had made nine confirmed arrests of Middle-Eastern men who allegedly obtained fraudulent licenses in Pittsburgh to transport hazardous material. Three arrests were in Washington state; one in Kansas City, Mo.; four in Detroit; the location of one arrest was not disclosed.

But FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday those arrests made so far "do not relate to the occurrences of Sept. 11." However, the FBI is continuing to investigate fraudulent hazardous material licenses, and Mueller did not rule out that those still to be apprehended in connection with the fraudulent license scheme might have links to the hijackers.

According to affidavits filed in Pittsburgh, the licenses were obtained through an alleged scam operated by one state examiner, who is now cooperating with the investigation.

The examiner is identified as "confidential witness 1," or CW-1.

"CW-1 acknowledged that approximately six years ago he was introduced by an associate to a person of Middle-Eastern origin who he stated may have been named Ben," one affidavit says. Over about 10 visits, "Ben brought to him approximately 10 to 20 individuals, and perhaps as many as 30, for who he fraudulently obtained CDLs (chauffeur's drivers licenses) with HAZMAT endorsements. CW-1 could not recall the names, but did recall individuals coming from Michigan, Tennessee and Washington state."

The witness told the FBI that "Ben" paid between $50 and $100 for the phony licenses by placing brand new bills under CW-1's desk calendar.

Some of those allegedly obtaining the fraudulent transport licenses tried to transfer them to Washington state, officials said.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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A copy of the letter was found in the misdirected luggage of suspect Mohamed Atta, believed killed when he and other hijackers flew an airliner out of Boston into the World Trade Center in New York City. Another copy was found in a car left by suspect Nawaf Alhamzi at...
Ashcroft:,Death,Letters,Link,Hijackers
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2001-00-28
Friday, 28 September 2001 12:00 AM
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