2nd Witness Arrested
25 Held for Questioning
Guy Gugliotta and David S. Fallis Washington Post Staff
September 16, 2001; Page A29
Investigators yesterday arrested a second
person as a material witness in the attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, and have detained 25 people on immigration violations for
questioning, the Justice Department said.
A Justice Department official gave no details
on the second arrest. On Friday, authorities arrested a man they were
already holding on suspicion of having a false pilot's license.
Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker
said that none of the 25 detainees had been charged with a crime and that
several were cooperating. Department sources said two of the 25 were
stopped at an Amtrak station in Fort Worth with $5,000 in cash and a box
cutter, the same kind of knife used by the 19 hijackers who crashed four
planes last Tuesday.
As the investigation gathered strength
yesterday, unusual leads began to surface, among them the possibility that
some of the hijackers may have received training at Pensacola Naval Air
Station in Florida or other U.S. military facilities.
Two of 19 suspects named by the FBI, Saeed
Alghamdi and Ahmed Alghamdi, have the same names as men listed at a housing
facility for foreign military trainees at Pensacola. Two others, Hamza
Alghamdi and Ahmed Alnami, have names similar to individuals listed in
public records as using the same address inside the base.
In addition, a man named Saeed Alghamdi
graduated from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in
San Antonio, while men with the same names as two other hijackers, Mohamed
Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, appear as graduates of the U.S. International
Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and the Aerospace Medical
School at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, respectively.
"Some of the FBI suspects had names
similar to those used by foreign alumni of U.S. military courses," the
Air Force acknowledged in a statement. "However, discrepancies in
their biographical data, such as birth dates 20 years off, indicate we are
probably not talking about the same people."
Still, investigators built solid evidence on
other suspects. In Germany, authorities linked a third hijacker to an
alleged Islamic terrorist cell that operated in the northern city of
Hamburg for years, and they seized "airplane-related documents"
from his girlfriend's apartment.
German authorities said that Ziad Jarrahi,
27, who was aboard the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, had
lived for the past four years in Hamburg, sharing an apartment with Atta
and Marwan Al-Shehhi, another suspect. Jarrahi studied aircraft
U.S. officials also confirmed yesterday that
Khalid Al-Midhar, identified as one of the hijackers aboard the flight that
crashed into the Pentagon, was spotted on a surveillance videotape from
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, speaking with a suspect in last year's bombing of
the destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden. The tape is another
piece of circumstantial evidence linking the Sept. 11 attacks to exiled
Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, who is suspected of masterminding the Cole
In India, Saudi diplomat Ahmed Alshehri,
based in Bombay, denied that he was the father of hijacker Waleed M.
Alshehri or that he had ever served in the United States. Diplomatic lists,
however, show an Ahmed Alshehri as second secretary at the Saudi Embassy in
Washington, and property records, law enforcement sources and witnesses
have linked him with Waleed. Reports from a Saudi newspaper editor said
yesterday that both Waleed and Wail Alshehri, another hijacker, were
After the Justice Department released the
names of the hijackers Friday, ordinary people began to realize, to their
surprise, that they had encountered the suspects in their final days and
At the Panther Motel, in Deerfield Beach,
Fla., Richard Surma and his wife, Diane, remembered that hijacker Marwan
Al-Shehhi and a man whose name they did not know had been their guests
between Aug. 26 and Sept. 9.
The pair spent their time at the motel's
small pool and had numerous visits from a third man. When Al-Shehhi checked
out, his trash included flight training textbooks, a stack of air traffic
maps, martial arts manuals and a box-cutting knife, the motel owners said.
"They were very neat and very
polite," Richard Surma recalled. But he and his wife thought it was
curious that the men had used a towel to cover a picture hanging in their
room of a woman wearing a dress that exposed one shoulder.
In Fort Lee, N.J., Dave Hascup, manager of a
Mail Boxes Etc. store in the Linwood Plaza Mall, said FBI and police
officers interviewed him Wednesday about hijackers Nawaq Alhamzi and Salem
Alhamzi, whom authorities said had a mailbox there.
"I sat in the back while [the FBI
agents] checked the mailbox," Hascup said. "There are just some
things you don't want to know."
Elsewhere, it was the incongruities that
caught the attention of investigators. In Weehauken, N.J., authorities said
teams of FBI agents searched a warehouse owned by Urban Moving Systems
after neighbors spotted several employees jumping up and down in
celebration soon after the World Trade Center attacks.
In Union City, N.J., FBI agents went door to
door late Tuesday night and early Wednesday evening at the Doric, a high-rise
apartment building, interviewing tenants and showing them photos of about a
half dozen men who appeared to be in their late twenties or early thirties
and of Middle Eastern descent.
The agents arrived after a Doric resident saw
five men in the area of the apartment building, which had a good view of
the World Trade Center, either taking photos or videotaping scenes from
across the river shortly after the attack.
The Justice Department's Tucker said
investigators across the country have conducted "hundreds of
interviews." The first formal arrest came Friday, when a man was
stopped at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for having a
false pilot's license.
Tucker said a second arrest warrant was
issued yesterday and the suspect taken into custody in New York. Officials
declined to name either witness and said the records were sealed.
Federal investigators had hoped to obtain
critical information about the hijackings from the downed planes'
"black boxes," but the recorders on the jets that crashed into
the Pentagon and into rural Pennsylvania were badly damaged, Tucker said,
and are being returned to the manufacturer in hopes that some data can be
retrieved. According to the Justice Department, there were cracks in the
circuit boards of both of the black boxes aboard Flight 93.
Meanwhile, the Immigration and Naturalization
Service was holding 25 people on a variety of infractions and questioning
all of them about the Sept. 11 attacks, Tucker said. The two men detained
Wednesday in Fort Worth were sent to New York.
Lori Bailey, an FBI spokeswoman in Dallas,
said the two Fort Worth detainees were taken off the train by Drug
Enforcement Administration agents conducting a routine narcotics sweep.
They were riding from St. Louis, apparently having disembarked from an
aircraft, and were en route to San Antonio, she said.
The pair told agents they were from India but
had no documents. They were carrying $5,000 in cash and a box cutter,
In Maine, Portland Police Chief Michael
Chitwood said yesterday that police and the FBI combed the city's Jetport
parking lot before dawn Wednesday until they found the metallic blue rental
Nissan Altima driven by Alomari and Mohamed Atta, then handed it over to
FBI technicians who arrived early Thursday and worked on it until 9 p.m.
At Boston's Logan Airport, investigators
discovered a bag left behind by Atta and containing a Saudi passport, an
international driver's license, instructional videos for flying Boeing
airliners, an Islamic prayer schedule and a suicide note written in Arabic,
a source familiar with the investigation said.
And, in a security sweep of the Logan parking
garage at 2 a.m. Thursday, investigators found a box cutter, a pamphlet
written in Arabic and a credit card, items apparently discarded by the
terrorists as they entered the airport.
Documents sent by the FBI to German police,
and obtained by the German magazine Der Spiegel, indicate that some of the
suspected hijackers aboard the plane that crashed into the Pentagon had
purchased their tickets in tandem and through the most ordinary means.
Khalid Al-Midhar used a Daytona Beach address
to book a reservation over the American Airlines Web site, using his
frequent-flier number, which he had established the day before, according
to FBI documents cited by the German magazine. He picked up the ticket at
the Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Sept. 5, paying cash. His
assigned seat was 12B.
Staff writers Marcia Slacum
Greene, Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz, Serge F. Kovaleski, George Lardner Jr.,
Vernon Loeb, Michael Fletcher, Eric Pianin, and Cheryl W. Thompson and
special correspondent Catherine Skipp contributed to this report.
Correspondent Peter Finn reported from Germany.