- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

Ten persons were arrested last night in three states on charges of possessing fraudulent driver's licenses to transport radioactive waste, biological agents or other hazardous materials across the United States, the Justice Department said.
Concerned about terrorists using chemical or biological weapons, the FBI has sought several persons with suspected ties to the 19 suicide hijackers who attacked America on Sept. 11 by slamming commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The arrests took place in Missouri, Michigan and Washington state. All ten are Middle Eastern males.
Authorities believe as many as 20 persons, some of whom have ties to the hijackers, may have obtained the fraudulent licenses.
Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden said none of the men arrested yesterday have known connections to the hijackers.
Authorities believe some of the men in custody obtained their licenses in Pennsylvania, where an examiner for the state's Department of Transportation in Pittsburgh is said to have given permits to people who had not taken the required tests, had suspended driver's licenses or otherwise were ineligible.
The unidentified examiner reportedly dealt with a man named in court records as Abdul Mohammed, who brought at least 20 persons to Pittsburgh for their permits.
Meanwhile, an Alexandria man who worked as an airline food worker and security guard was ordered held without bail yesterday by a U.S. magistrate after prosecutors said he was an important witness and "may be more" in the FBI's investigation of the Sept. 11 attack.
In the Virginia case, Mohamed Abdi was arrested after FBI agents discovered his name and telephone number in a car belonging to Nawaq Alhamzi, a Saudi national identified by the FBI as one of the five men who commandeered American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, killing 194 persons.
FBI agent Kevin Ashby said in an affidavit that a search of Alhamzi's 1988 Toyota, found at Washington Dulles International Airport the day after the Sept. 11 attack, netted a Washington, D.C., road map with the name "Mohumed" written on it along with the telephone number of an Alexandria apartment rented by Mr. Abdi.
The search, according to the affidavit, also located a cashier's check payable to a flight school in Phoenix, a box-cutter utility knife and four drawings of the cockpit of a 757 jetliner, the same plane used in the Pentagon attack. In addition to the D.C. road map, the affidavit said agents also found a map of New York City.
Prosecutors offered no specific evidence linking Mr. Abdi to the hijackers, but Mr. Ashby testified that the $22,000-a-year security guard "could offer no explanation" on why his name and address would have been in Alhamzi's car. When pressed for an answer, the agent told the court that Mr. Abdi said he had donated the car to the Salvation Army in 1999 and, perhaps, he had inadvertently left the map behind. But Mr. Ashby said Mr. Abdi did not have the same telephone number in 1999.
When agents took Mr. Abdi into custody on unrelated forgery charges, they found on him part of a newspaper article about Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian convicted in April of smuggling explosives from Canada into Washington state as part of a conspiracy to bomb buildings including Los Angeles International Airport during the 2000 millennium celebrations.
Ressam spent seven months in a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and is believed by authorities to have ties to Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks, and to bin Laden's terrorist organization, al Qaeda.
Mr. Abdi, described as a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, was ordered held after a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Welton Curtis Sewell at the federal courthouse in Alexandria. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Spencer told the magistrate that "the pressure" on Mr. Abdi to flee "will be incredible."
"I find that the circumstances of this particular case are so extreme and so unusual so if this court released this defendant there would be a risk of flight," the judge said from the bench.
Mr. Abdi's court-appointed attorney, Joseph Bowman, argued that his client should be released on bail, saying he was just "a guy trying to make his way" whose name was found by the FBI "in an unfortunate place." In the forgery case, Mr. Abdi was charged with falsely signing his landlord's signature on Arlington County housing subsidy checks and cashing them.
Meanwhile, a second Virginia man, Henry Villalobos of Arlington who was arrested Monday in the investigation also was ordered held without bail following a hearing. He is accused of helping two of the suspected hijackers, Abdul Aziz Alomari and Ahmed Alghamdi, falsely obtain Virginia identification cards,.
Mr. Villalobos has identified from FBI photographs three other suspected hijackers, Hani Hanjour, Alhamzi and Majed Moqed, as having been in the parking lot of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles on Aug. 2 with Alomari and Alghamdi.
Hanjour, Alhazmi and Moqed have been named by the FBI as being aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon. Alomari was named by the FBI as aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which struck the World Trade Center's north tower. The FBI said Alghamdi was aboard United Flight 175, which hit the World Trade Center's south tower.
A second man was detained in the DMV case, although not identified. He was named in the affidavit as a "confidential informant." Authorities believe Mr. Villalobos and the second man received $80 from each of the men for the residency forms, minus $35 that went to a secretary who prepared them.
In related matters:
Police in Spain detained six Algerians with suspected ties to bin Laden. Police said the six also have been linked to a separate terrorist organization suspected of planning attacks on U.S. targets in Europe.
In Britain, authorities captured a French national suspected of having been involved in a plot to attack U.S. interests in Europe. France has already placed seven other suspects in the case under formal investigation, saying those seven and the French national arrested in Britain are believed to have ties to bin Laden.

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