- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) — The FBI issued a nationwide alert Saturday seeking help from police and the public in finding a Pakistani man the agency said entered the United States illegally after Sept. 11, 2001.

The suspect was identified as Mohammed Sher Mohammed Khan, 36.

"Khan is an English speaker and sometimes has a beard," the FBI said. His name and birth date might be false, it added.

"Although the FBI has no specific information that this individual is connected to any potential terrorist activities, based upon information developed in the course of on-going investigations, the FBI would like to locate and question this person," the announcement said.

An FBI official said Khan was not the reason the U.S. nationwide terror alert level was raised Friday.

Last month, the FBI had put out a similar alert for five men who, the agency said, crossed into the United States from Canada on Christmas Eve with fake passports and a possible intent to carry out terrorist attacks.

The information later proved to be fake and the FBI cancelled the alert.

The information came from Michael Hamdani, a document forger, who had been extradited from Canada and apparently decided to feed FBI agents exactly what he thought they wanted — information about terror suspects.

On Friday evening, the government raised its terror threat level to "high risk" orange — the second highest level — warning of a growing possibility that the al Qaida network intends to launch an attack against the United States to coincide with the Muslim Hajj that ends in mid-February.

The government warned "recent intelligence" suggests al Qaida is targeting "apartment buildings, hotels, and other soft or lightly secured targets" in the United States.

Changing the terror alert color from the yellow "elevated" to orange triggered tighter security at borders, airports and hotels. Officials also urged greater vigilance by all Americans.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said the government had received intelligence information, corroborated by multiple sources, that Osama bin Laden's organization seeks to attack Americans at home or abroad during the time of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

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