- The Washington Times - Monday, December 30, 2002

The FBI began a nationwide manhunt yesterday for five men of Middle Eastern descent believed to have illegally entered the United States on Christmas Eve.
The five have been identified as Abid Noraiz Ali, Iftikhar Khozmai Ali, Mustafa Khan Owasi, Adil Pervez and Akbar Jamal, according to a statement released by the FBI. The nationality of the men is not known.
Photographs posted on the agency's Web site showed five dark-haired men ages 19 to 33 with crew cuts and wearing casual Western clothes.
FBI officials warned that the names and the dates of birth of the men could be fictitious and offered no indication about their possible locations.
"Although the FBI has no specific information that these individuals are connected to any potential terrorist activities, based upon information developed in the course of ongoing investigations, the FBI would like to locate and question these persons," the agency said.
The five are suspected of having entered the United States on or around Dec. 24.
CNN said the men entered the United States through Canada, the same path taken by several Arabs in a foiled 1999 plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport.
It was not immediately clear how the men would have managed to cross the border amid heightened post-September 11 security, whether they traveled individually or as a group, or carried any weapons.
In a telephone interview with AFP, FBI Special Agent John Iannarelli said these questions were still being clarified and presented the matter as a case of illegal immigration.
"While people enter the country illegally all the time, here we have pictures, names, dates of birth," he said. "So, there is a very good chance of finding these people."
Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman Dan Kane said the FBI, rather than the INS, was the lead agency in the manhunt.
"When INS and other border security agencies received the information, we implemented additional measures to look for these individuals," Mr. Kane said.
The FBI said in a statement that it was closely working with federal and local law-enforcement agencies to apprehend the men.
"Anyone with any information pertaining to these individuals is asked to contact the nearest FBI office," the statement said.

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