- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2002

CHICAGO (AP) FBI agents searching telephone records have linked a 36-year-old Illinois student to the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon, according to newly unsealed court papers.
Ali Salem Kahlah Al-Marri has not been charged with any role in the September 11 terrorist attacks, and his attorney, Richard Jasper Jr., questioned the link.
Mr. Al-Marri was arrested Jan. 28 and is being held in New York on a federal charge of unlawful possession of more than 15 credit cards, which were found in his West Peoria home during a Dec. 11 search.
When questioned by federal agents after the search, Mr. Al-Marri denied any knowledge of terrorism, the court papers say.
The basis for the suspicions of investigators is spelled out in an affidavit accompanying an application for a search warrant for his home. Agents were seeking evidence of several crimes, including "material support for terrorism."
The document filed in federal court in Peoria, first obtained by the (Peoria) Journal Star, details how suspected September 11 hijackers used a telephone number in the United Arab Emirates before the attacks.
It also says Mr. Al-Marri, using calling cards, attempted to call the same number three times after September 11 on Sept. 23, Oct. 24 and Nov. 4.
According to court documents, September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta sent a Federal Express package from the United States to the UAE on Sept. 4 and gave the phone number as a contact point for the recipient.
According to the affidavit, the number was also used a day earlier by an unidentified individual for a transfer of money to Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh, an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal indictment against Zacarias Moussaoui, the suspected 20th hijacker now in custody in Virginia.
The first of the "attempted calls" on cards traced to Mr. Al-Marri was made on a pay phone in a Peoria store through a calling card issued by Network IP.
The same card was used five days later in a call from Mr. Al-Marri's cellular phone and again on Oct. 24 in a call from his home in West Peoria.
The second call to the UAE number was made from a pay phone in a Springfield service station, using the same card.
The third call was made from the Summit Hotel in Chicago, using a card issued by Qwest Communications. The same day, the card was used to place four calls from the Al-Marri home.
Herbert Hadad, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, N.Y., declined comment on the case. At a hearing yesterday in federal court on the credit-card charge, Mr. Al-Marri was denied bond.
Mr. Jasper, the defense attorney, said the affidavit said only that his client attempted to make calls.
"Attempted I don't know what that means, do you?" he said. "It's the thinnest of inferences, actually. If you read the affidavit carefully, there's no direct or indirect evidence he made the calls.
"How do we know there wasn't some kind of mistaken call or some flaw in recovering the numbers?" Mr. Jasper asked.


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