- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) A Sudanese pilot who officials say is being investigated for possible al Qaeda links is accused in an affidavit of falsifying immigration documents in an attempt to stay in the United States.
FBI agents said in the affidavit filed in federal court that Mekki Hamed Mekki said he submitted several forms with variations of name, date of birth and place of birth to improve his chances in an immigration lottery.
He submitted the forms for this year's U.S. diversity immigrant program, which makes 50,000 permanent visas available to people from countries with low rates of immigration, the agents said.
A federal court hearing for Mekki was scheduled yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Russell Eliason in Winston-Salem, where Mekki is in jail.
Two government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity last week said federal authorities believe Mekki, 30, is linked to Osama bin Laden's terrorist group.
They also said authorities were investigating the possibility that he may have been plotting to fly a plane into a U.S. target.
The affidavit does not say why federal authorities contacted Mekki, only that they first did so on Sept. 13 while he drove his cab. Mekki gave the agents a North Carolina driver's license and said he had additional forms of identification at his apartment in Greensboro, the affidavit said.
At his apartment, he retrieved his wallet and a black plastic shopping bag that he said contained all his identification documents and documents relating to his application for asylum.
The agents said their review of Mekki's documents showed he had a U.S. visitor's visa issued July 18, 2000, which expired Oct. 16, 2000. Attached to the visa was an I-94 form from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, stamped with an entry date of Sept. 27, 2000.
The I-94 form is filled out by foreign visitors to the United States to record their arrival and departure from the country. The form is used to prove that a visitor arrived in the country legally and did not stay beyond the allowed length of stay.
In the black bag, the agents said they found 20 entry forms for the U.S. diversity immigrant visa program, the form that Mekki said he had submitted with several names, dates of birth and places of birth.
Among those were the names of Makki Hamad Makki and birth dates and places of Dec. 14, 1972, and Khartoum, Sudan; April 20, 1972 and Omdurman, Sudan; and Jan. 1, 1972, and Bahary, Sudan.
The forms included Greensboro addresses of at least three post office boxes and one apartment number different from where Mekki lived.

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