- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

Federal agents yesterday raided a Boston-area software firm whose clients include dozens of government agencies, including the FBI, in an investigation to determine whether the company was used to hide secret cash diversions to al Qaeda terrorists.
The raid, led by U.S. Customs Service and FBI agents, was carried out just after midnight and targeted Ptech Inc. in Quincy, Mass. The raid also targeted a key investor, Yasin al-Qadi, one of a dozen Saudi businessmen suspected of diverting millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
No arrests were made, although agents seized records from the company in what U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan of Boston said was "an ongoing financial crime investigation." He did not elaborate and documents in the case have been sealed.
Authorities said investigators want to know what role Mr. al-Qadi, who is believed to be in Saudi Arabia, currently plays with Ptech and whether information gathered during the raid could lead them to other organizations in which he might be secretly involved.
Investigators initially were concerned that Ptech used "back doors" in its software systems to gain access to confidential government data, but federal officials later said agents were unable during a preliminary review to find any software codes that would have allowed the company to gain the necessary access and had no information that Ptech was involved in classified areas.
They said the company does handle sensitive data, and a probe into the matter is continuing by a federal task force known as "Operation Green Quest," a multiagency group that investigates the financing of global terrorism.
"The material has been reviewed by the appropriate government agencies and they have detected absolutely nothing in their reports to the White House that would lead to any concern," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
The FBI has used Ptech software to operate its financial tracking and internal budgeting systems, authorities said.
Ptech's clients include Naval Air Services Command, the Air Force, NATO, the House of Representatives, the Energy and Education departments, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Internal Revenue Service along with several private companies, including IBM Global Services, Motorola, Southern California Edison and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
No one answered the telephone yesterday at Ptech's office. The firm's vice president and chief executive officer, Oussama Ziade, also was not available. The company's chief product officer, James Cerrato, told reporters in Quincy there was "absolutely nothing there" in terms of a link to the al Qaeda network.
Mr. al-Qadi, a Saudi multimillionaire involved in banking, chemicals, diamonds and real estate, was included this year in the Treasury Department's list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists" whose assets should be immediately frozen. A personal confidant of the Saudi royal family, he is believed to have secretly funneled "millions of dollars" to bin Laden's al Qaeda network through various charitable organizations.
The Saudi government this week froze Mr. al-Qadi's assets; he is only the third person in that country to be subjected to such an order.
Mr. al-Qadi denied in an ABC News interview last year he had provided funding to terrorists.
Ptech, a privately held company that is expected to generate $10 million in revenue this year, notified law-enforcement authorities months ago about the firm's ties to Mr. al-Qadi, authorities said, which sparked the task force probe.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide