- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

One person was arrested and nine others detained last night after they tried to pass through security checkpoints at two New York airports as a nationwide FBI manhunt continued for the terrorists responsible for deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Law enforcement authorities in New York said John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports — which only reopened earlier in the day following Tuesday's devastating air strikes that killed thousands — were abruptly shut down after Port Authority Police detained the would-be travelers. Newark International Airport in New Jersey, which also serves the New York area, also was closed.
One man, authorities said, carried a phony pilot's license, while others sought to pass through the security checkpoints posing as crew members. New York officials said some of those detained carried knives, multiple fake identification cards and flight certificates from a Florida school where other terrorists involved in the attacks had trained. None were identified.
Port Authority Police notified the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, who responded in force to question the nine men and one woman, although no information on what they discovered was immediately available. The men were initially questioned on their immigration status, authorities said.
The man carrying the phony license was arrested, according to New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. He was not identified.
The 10 persons were described as Arab nationals. Five sought to board a United Airlines flight at Kennedy bound for Los Angeles, authorities said. It was not clear what flight the others were attempting to board at LaGuardia.
The FBI has mounted a nationwide manhunt for dozens of Middle Eastern terrorists who helped put 18 air pirates in control of four hijacked jetliners, three of which slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Tuesday.
Of the 18 known hijackers, there were five each on two of the doomed planes and four each on the other two aircraft. They took control of the 757 and 767 jetliners with knives, box cutters and threats of a bomb, Attorney General John Ashcroft said. All the hijackers were ticketed passengers and at least four were pilots who trained at flight schools in the United States.
The Justice Department obtained photos of all 18 hijackers yesterday and is expected to release them today, as the search for the perpetrators of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history consumes 4,000 agents pursuing what Mr. Ashcroft described as "thousands and thousands of leads."
Federal law enforcement authorities said that the number of accomplices being sought could range from 50 to as many as 100, and that efforts were under way to identify and locate them.
Part of the ongoing FBI investigation, authorities said, also has focused on how the hijackers were able to get weapons aboard the four aircraft — and if they had help.
Authorities confirmed yesterday that the security firm assigned to guard checkpoints at Washington Dulles and Newark international airports, where two of the four hijacked planes originated, was fined $1 million last year for hiring employees with criminal records and providing inadequate training.
Atlanta-based Argenbright Security Inc. employs 19,000 people at 45 U.S. airports. The company issued a statement expressing sorrow for the "tragic events" and said it was "working closely with and providing full support to its airline customers as they deal with the aftermath" of the terrorist attacks.
Last year, the firm pleaded guilty and paid the $1 million fine for inadequate training, testing and background checks on its employees in Philadelphia from 1995 to 1998. An investigation found that Argenbright employees had backgrounds that included drug dealing, kidnapping, aggravated assault and theft.
Authorities also said the hijackers or their accomplices had obtained at least one "ramp pass" for Logan International Airport in Boston, which would have given the holder free access to restricted areas at that airport. Two of the hijacked planes came out of Boston.
The investigation, authorities said, has focused on multiple terrorist cells operating out of the East Coast, all of whom have extensive ties to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Those involved in the attacks are believed associates of international terrorist Osama bin Laden, and many are said to have been involved in other bin Laden-financed operations.
Bin Laden, 44, is an extremist Islamic militant who founded and funds a terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda, which has been linked to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the bombing last year of the USS Cole in Yemen.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday identified bin Laden as a prime suspect in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
During a closed-door meeting yesterday, the FBI described the Tuesday attack for several senators as "very complex, very impressive and well coordinated," adding that it involved hijackers trained in this country to fly the commercial jets as well as support personnel who provided money, lodging, credit cards, transportation and, perhaps, access to the airports in Boston, Newark and Dulles.
Both cash and credit cards were used by the hijackers to purchase tickets and hotel rooms, rent cars and buy other items in what Justice Department officials have de-scribed as a well-financed operation.
The FBI probe, according to those who attended the briefing, began at the three airports, where agents sought passenger lists, boarding passes and records from airport telephones and personal cell phones. The boarding passes were being sought as quickly as possible, the FBI said, to avoid them being tainted before they could be checked for fingerprints.
One FBI official told the senators the bureau has "fairly good information on who did this," but he did not elaborate.
Authorities believe several of the hijackers entered the United States through remote border crossings in Maine — including Jackson, located south of Armstrong, Quebec, and Portland — via a ferry crossing from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
They said as many as five of the hijackers involved in the World Trade Center attacks eventually flew from Bangor and Portland, Maine, after crossing into this country from Canada, where they boarded separate planes to Boston's Logan International Airport.
Maine Gov. Angus King has confirmed that two of the men believed to have taken the Yarmouth ferry were using New Jersey driver's licenses, leaving behind a blue Nissan Altima at the Portland International Jetport. The car later was impounded by police and taken to the Maine Department of Public Safety's crime lab.
The FBI has determined that at least one hijacker on each of the four commandeered airplanes was trained at a U.S. flight school. Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said that the training took place over the past several months at flight schools in more than one state — some of it as early as July 2000 — and that several of the suspected hijackers who were trained in this country to fly commercial jetliners already had pilot's licenses.
Federal Aviation Administration records show suspected terrorist Mohammed Atta, 33, who listed his address in Saudi Arabia, has a commercial pilot's license. Property records in Florida show he also has a residence in Daytona Beach. Atta is believed to have been at the controls of American Airlines Flight 11 when it slammed into the World Trade Center.
Other suspected pilots aboard the commandeered aircraft are Waleed Alshehri and Marwan Alshehri, brothers from the United Arab Emirates who also were trained to fly the heavy commercial aircraft used in Tuesday's attacks. Authorities said Marwan Alshehri attended flight school with Atta in Florida.
Records show Atta boarded American Airlines Flight 11 from a connecting flight from Portland, Maine. Two of his bags were on the Portland flight, but they were not transferred in time to be loaded on the Los Angeles-bound flight that left Logan airport at 7:59 a.m. — 45 minutes before it smashed into the World Trade Center's north tower.
Among Atta's personal items found in his luggage were a Saudi passport, an international driver's license, a videotape on how to fly a Boeing 757 and a 747, and a religious cassette tape. Marwan Alshehri, according to airline records, was aboard United Airlines Flight 175, which slammed into the World Trade center's south tower.
Authorities said at least five one-way tickets for the United flight and at least two similar tickets for the American flight were purchased at the last minute by the suspected hijackers — four of which were purchased with the same Visa card.
German authorities said yesterday that Atta and Marwan Alshehri were part of a group of Islamic terrorists in Hamburg who had been planning attacks on the United States.


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