- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002

A tow-truck driver arrested for entering restricted space around the Pentagon Monday night was ordered held without bond yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. and charged with identification document fraud.
According to an FBI affidavit filed by Special Agent James P. Greene, the man was identified as "Imad Abdel-Fattah Hamed a.k.a. Imad Nimer." Mr. Hamed told authorities he was driving the tow truck, which belonged to his brother, to Maryland for repairs and had not seen signs on Route 110 prohibiting access near the Pentagon.
Mr. Hamed told authorities he was a U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent, but a search of the truck by a Virginia state trooper, with Mr. Hamed's consent, revealed several government documents with photographs resembling the driver or the passenger but with conflicting names and addresses.
FBI agents conducted a computer check, which revealed Mr. Hamed had been interviewed by the FBI on Oct. 22 but gave a different Social Security number than he gave to the agents on the scene.
The passenger has not been identified. According to the affidavit, he told authorities he was in the country on an expired student visa and had dropped out of school after the events of September 11.
The passenger remains in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service on "administrative immigration charges."
A further search of the vehicle revealed a cashier's check for $12,700, but FBI dogs found no trace of weapons or explosives.
The two men provided several explanations for why they were carrying the documents, and the affidavit said the agents felt they had enough evidence to charge the men with making false statements.
In a brief court appearance, U.S. District Judge Theresa Buchanan told Mr. Hamed it was "not appropriate" to release him, adding that he was a flight risk and that there were "serious questions about the defendant's identity."
Mr. Hamed, dressed in a white short-sleeved shirt and black pants, told the judge he could afford a lawyer. He told authorities he worked as a technician for a Virginia company called Print Inc.
Just four hours before the arrests Monday night, the FBI issued a terror alert, asking law enforcement and the American public to be on the lookout for a Yemeni man and several associates who might be plotting a terrorist attack as early as Tuesday.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, during a press conference yesterday to announce a crackdown on weapons violators, declined to comment on the detention of the two men, referring inquiries to the affidavit filed in the case.
"The individuals detained near the Pentagon have been the subject of affidavits filed with the courts. I think it's rather complete, those affidavits, and I would refer you to those," he said. "We won't be making statements in addition to the court pleadings or proceedings."
"The timing of this apparent attempt to breach security, after the latest FBI warning of a specific and credible terrorist threat, certainly gives me pause," Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner said in a statement.
The statement says the motives of the men might never be known, but that the FBI is continuing its investigation.
"It may be simply a case of individuals possessing false identification and driving past clear warning signs," he said.


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