- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 6, 2001

A college student pleaded not guilty yesterday in a New York court to charges of lying about whether he knew two of the hijackers in the September 11 attack on America. Meanwhile, another man who met with one of the same hijackers continued to be questioned in Jordan.
Osama Awadallah, 21, a Jordanian citizen attending Grossmont College in San Diego, entered the plea in federal court in Manhattan. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered him held, pending a bail hearing set for Nov. 21.
In a grand jury indictment handed up last week, Mr. Awadallah was accused of two counts of perjury for denying he knew Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, who have been named as two of the hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, killing 189 persons.
The indictment said Mr. Awadallah's telephone number and documents concerning Almihdhar were found in a car abandoned at Washington Dulles International Airport and located by authorities. The car was used by Alhazmi.
The indictment also said that several videotapes, including "The Koran vs. The Bible, Which is God's Word," were found by the FBI in Mr. Awadallah's car, along with computer-generated pictures of Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect behind the September 11 attacks.
Meanwhile, a suspected member of bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network is being questioned in Jordan by intelligence agents concerned with a meeting he had last year in Malaysia with Almihdhar. Arrested two weeks ago, the unidentified man was caught on videotape in January 2000 by intelligence authorities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Authorities said the man is being asked about his role or knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and a foiled plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy and a five-star hotel in Jordan filled with Americans during the millennium celebrations.
Almihdhar and Alhazmi were on a "watch list" issued by the CIA as possible suspects in the Cole bombing.
Investigators have determined that Almihdhar had direct ties to bin Laden and attended a meeting with a suspect in the Cole bombing who has been described by the FBI as a top security official for bin Laden.
In a related matter, the White House and the Justice Department were at odds yesterday over whether the majority of the 1,182 persons detained in the September 11 probe remained in custody.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the "lion's share" had been released.
The White House later clarified Mr. Fleischer's comment to mean only those held on unrelated criminal charges.
Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said the majority of those detained in the ongoing investigation remained in custody.
She said they are being held on immigration charges, were arrested as material witnesses in the probe or are being held on federal, state or local criminal charges.
Last week, two dozen civil liberties, human rights and electronic privacy groups asked under a Freedom of Information Act request for the names of all of those being held, including 185 detained on immigration violations.
Mr. Awadallah, a legal U.S. resident arrested as a material witness, faces 10 years in prison if convicted of lying during appearances before the grand jury on Oct. 10 and Oct. 15.
The indictment said he acknowledged knowing Alhazmi and meeting with him as many as 40 times in 2000, when he lived in San Diego.
He said Alhazmi was accompanied by another man on several occasions, but he denied knowing the man's name.
The indictment also said that on Oct. 10, prosecutors showed Mr. Awadallah a copy of writing found in an exam book he used at college that referred to Alhazmi and Almihdhar, but he denied writing the words "Nawaf" and "Khalid."
During his Oct. 15 testimony, the indictment said, prosecutors showed him the actual book and he admitted both that the handwriting was his and that the man with Alhazmi was named Khalid.
The indictment said Mr. Awadallah wrote: "I have been in SD since 1998. I have always wanted to meet as much people as much as I can. I have met many people from many countries. One of the quitest people I have met is Nawaf. Another one his name Khalid. They have stayed in San Diego for 6 months."


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