- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2001

A Saudi man detained in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks pleaded not guilty yesterday in Alexandria to federal charges that he misrepresented his citizenship status.
The charges against Khalid S. al-Draibi, 32, have nothing to do with the attacks. But the FBI continues to investigate Mr. al-Draibi based on the circumstances under which he was arrested.
Police in Manassas Park, Va., about 15 miles from Washington Dulles International Airport, pulled Mr. al-Draibi over the night of Sept. 11 after spotting him driving on a flat tire.
Suspicious police officers called in the FBI, and investigators eventually determined that Mr. al-Draibi had driver's licenses from eight states. A search of his car also found flight manuals for small aircraft.
Mr. Al-Draibi has passed a lie detector test administered by the FBI in which he denied any connection to the Sept. 11 attacks, according to his attorney, Drewry B. Hutcheson Jr.
After yesterday's arraignment, Mr. Hutcheson said the FBI has expressed an interest in interviewing Mr. al-Draibi further. He said his client has no information that would be helpful to the FBI.
"I'm not sure at this point there's any benefit to talking to the FBI any further," Mr. Hutcheson said. "He never knew any of these people and he had no involvement."
Mr. Hutcheson said his client admitted "that he didn't do everything right" by obtaining driver's licenses in eight states as he traveled the country the past two years. He also said he expects Mr. al-Draibi to be deported once the case against him is resolved.
"He still likes this country. He'd like to stay," Mr. Hutcheson said. "I'm afraid he won't have that option."
One of the charges against Mr. al-Draibi is that he made false statements on a visa application. The second charge is that he lied to police by stating that he was a U.S. citizen. Mr. Hutcheson said federal sentencing guidelines would call for his client to serve just a few months in jail if convicted, as well as deportation.
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton set a trial date of Dec. 4. Mr. Hutcheson said he's hopeful that he will be able to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors once the FBI concludes its investigation.
Prosecutor John Morton declined to comment after yesterday's arraignment.
Mr. al-Draibi lived in several U.S. cities over the past two or three years, working as a cabdriver and in retail sales in Kansas City, Mo.; Birmingham, Ala., and Nashville, Tenn., among other places, Mr. Hutcheson said.

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