- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The four men questioned in connection to a threat to bomb one of two tunnels beneath Baltimore’s harbor were in the country illegally and now face deportation, officials said yesterday.

The men had been ordered to leave the country and missed a number of deportation hearings before they were detained Tuesday, said Mark Bastan, acting special agent in charge at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Baltimore.

“Technically, they were fugitives,” he said. “They’ve already been through the system. There are no more hearings for them.”

The four men — Ahmad Al Momani, 58, Mohamed Ahmed Mohamady Ismail, 30, Mohamed Mohamed-Abdelhamed, 38, and Suied Mohamad-Ahamad, 25 — will be held at a detention center in Wicomico County, Mr. Bastan said.

Al Momani is from Jordan, Mr. Bastan said. The other men are from Egypt.

He said that there is likely not enough evidence to connect any of the men to a threat to drive an explosive-filled vehicle into either the Harbor Tunnel or the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

Maryland transportation officials closed sections of Interstate 95 and the Harbor Tunnel, and the Fort McHenry Tunnel was restricted to one lane of traffic in each direction from about 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Backups were six miles long at times.

A man in custody in the Netherlands was the source of information about the threat and tipped off authorities about Ismail, said a federal law-enforcement official speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The other three were among several persons rounded up and questioned in a series of raids conducted in the city Tuesday afternoon.

“We weren’t looking for those three,” Mr. Bastan said. “They just happened to be there when we were [interviewing] — wrong place at the wrong time.”

The men’s deportation could take up to about a month, Mr. Bastan said.

One of the arrests during the raids resulted from information supplied to immigration officials by the Baltimore FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the source said.

Multiple businesses with Middle Eastern connections were raided. An arrest made at a restaurant named Safi’s Pizza could be connected to the tunnel threat, the source said.

Another arrest was made at Koko Market, a convenience store in East Baltimore. Eyewitnesses said authorities led a man from the market early Tuesday afternoon, putting him inside a black sport utility vehicle.

Maged Hussein, the store’s owner, was taken in to custody on handgun charges, according to court documents. Mr. Hussein did not face immigration charges.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force is the lead agency in the investigation.

Barry Maddox, a spokesman with the FBI’s Baltimore field office, said the task force will keep pursuing leads and make a decision about how much further to develop the case.

The Fort McHenry Tunnel handles traffic for Interstate 95 — a major thoroughfare from Maine to Florida that serves such major East Coast cities as the District, New York and Philadelphia. The Harbor Tunnel is part of Interstate 895, an alternate north-south route through Baltimore.

mThis article is based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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