- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

The FBI yesterday issued a worldwide alert for an al Qaeda terror suspect who authorities say poses a serious threat to the United States and could be plotting new suicide attacks against targets here and abroad.

Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 27, a Saudi national, was last seen in late 2001 in Miami. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Information about El Shukrijumah reportedly came from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks arrested three weeks ago in Pakistan and now detained by U.S. officials. There was no information yesterday on what specific threat El Shukrijumah posed, although authorities said he is a trained pilot.

"El Shukrijumah is possibly involved with al Qaeda terrorist activities and, if true, poses a serious threat to U.S. citizens and interests worldwide," the FBI said in a statement.

Born in Saudi Arabia, El Shukrijumah carries a Guyana passport and, according to the FBI, could attempt to enter the United States with a Saudi, Canadian or Trinidad and Tobago passport using a half-dozen aliases. He is described as about 5-foot-4, weighing 130 pounds, with black hair, black eyes and possibly sporting a beard.

He reportedly received flight training in Florida and has been compared by authorities to Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the al Qaeda hijackers who piloted jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing about 3,000 people.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham yesterday assured a Senate committee that the country's largest nuclear power plant has been designated a top security priority amid concerns that it has been targeted by terrorists.

The threat to the Palo Verde nuclear plant, located 50 miles west of Phoenix, prompted Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to deploy National Guard troops Tuesday to the sprawling facility.

Questioned by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Abraham said every effort was being made to take protective measures to assure the plant is not vulnerable to a terrorist strike.

Rebecca Hanks, spokeswoman for the senator, said his concerns came from a story in The Washington Times yesterday saying the plant had been targeted by terrorists.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism, technology and homeland security, said he had been assured the FBI is aware of the threat and is investigating it.

"In a time like this, it is not uncommon for information to come to the attention of the FBI that warrants further investigation," Mr. Kyl said. "I have been assured by the director of counterterrorism at the FBI that their investigation into the security of Palo Verde is proceeding appropriately and that all necessary precautions are being taken."

Palo Verde is the largest nuclear power plant in the world, with construction under way to add six new reactors to bring the total to nine, which will be running within two years. It produced nearly 30 million kilowatts in 2000 and supplies power to Arizona, Southern California, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

In other counterterrorism efforts yesterday, French authorities said they had found traces of the deadly toxin ricin in a Paris railway station, in a search ordered as part of an anti-terrorist plan stepped up because of security concerns over Iraq.

And in Germany prosecutors said they had detained five persons suspected of planning an attack on German soil to coincide with the start of the U.S.-led hostilities.

A French Interior Ministry spokesman told Reuters news agency yesterday that two small flasks containing traces of ricin were found Monday in a luggage depot at the Gare de Lyon mainline railway station, which serves the south of France.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security want to interview as many as 50,000 Iraqis in the United States illegally, including 3,000 said to be missing. There were concerns that some Iraqis could be tied to the Baghdad regime.

A Homeland Security spokeswoman said the joint initiative is part of "Operation Liberty Shield" and is focused on those who might pose a threat.

Under new powers authorized Feb. 28 by Attorney General John Ashcroft, the FBI has the authority to arrest persons on immigration violations.

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