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A tip led police this week to a market outside Flint where Abuelazam had worked for a month. Investigators talked to employees, and a store video showed that he matched the description of the man wanted by authorities.

But Abuelazam was gone: He told people he was off to Virginia and had not been seen since his Aug. 1 shift.

Police in Arlington, Va., stopped him for a traffic offense Aug. 5 and arrested him on a 2008 misdemeanor assault charge from Leesburg, Va., where he had lived and worked in the mental-health field. A hammer and a knife were found inside the Chevrolet Blazer, which was returned to him after his brief detention. There was no national alert for Abuelazam or his vehicle.

Virginia authorities “had no idea at that time that he was involved in these crimes,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton in Michigan said.

Abuelazam eventually returned to Michigan, obtained a $3,000 airline ticket to Tel Aviv from his uncle and made it as far as the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, where officers snatched the man in flip-flops and shorts after he was paged over the intercom.


Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta; Corey Williams and David Runk in Flint, Mich.; Ed White in Detroit; Greg Bluestein in Atlanta; Nafeesa Syeed in Washington; Matthew Barakat in Leesburg, Va., and the AP News Research Center in New York contributed to this report.