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Feds seek extradition of Algerian pilot

(CNN) -- Prosecutors at an extradition hearing Friday said an Algerian pilot arrested in London instructed four of the hijackers involved in the attacks on New York and Washington.

The man's attorney denounces the allegations as false.

Lotfi Raissi, 27, was detained last week following the attacks. He was re-arrested Friday on an international arrest warrant originated in the United States.

A criminal complaint presented in a London court says the United States wants Lotfi Raissi extradited because he "did knowingly and willfully make a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement ..." to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to get his pilots' license.

The prosecutor in London said Raissi also soon may face more serious charges -- conspiracy to murder.

CNN has learned that Raissi took simulator training at Sawyer Aviation in Phoenix, Arizona, as late as this past June -- with Hani Hanjour, the alleged pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. Hanjour lived at various times with three of the four other hijackers of flight 77 in San Diego and Arizona, where Raissi lived. Records show he was picked up twice for speeding.

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According to British prosecutors, Raissi was there to make sure the hijackers of flight 77 were well-trained.

But Raissi's lawyer says Raissi is not involved.

"He adamantly denies any involvement in the recent appalling tragedies and he is confident that he will be absolved of all involvement," said Richard Egan.

Judge Nicholas Evans has ordered that Raissi should remain in custody and appear before the court again October 5.

British authorities searched his home; they say they have a pilot's log with pages missing, records they believe of his time with the suspected hijackers.

Investigative sources tell CNN they believe Raissi is a foot soldier like the other 19 hijackers. Specialists say he fits a pattern.

"He fits in the sense he is of approximately the same age group as the hijackers," said M.J. Gohel of the Asia Pacific Foundation. "He comes from a simple but middle class background."

Links to Europe

Investigation sources say they're operating under the belief the September 11 attacks were conceived, developed and funded internationally, and they're focusing their inquiry on the United Kingdom, Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The mammoth investigation is requiring unprecedented law-enforcement cooperation worldwide to uncover a presumed support system for the attackers.

"It's been acknowledged across Europe that there is support and we're working very closely indeed with the FBI in relation to their investigation," said Sir John Stevens of the London Metropolitan Police.

Terrorism experts say the United Kingdom is a good place to look for more people who may have been involved.

"In the UK, there are a lot of groups that are sympathetic to the bin Laden network or the al Qaeda network, if you like, as well as to the other groups," said Gohel.

Scotland Yard acknowledges that some of the 19 suspected hijackers appear to have at least passed through the UK and are looking into whether they may have stayed by using aliases.

"We want to research that information very thoroughly indeed to make sure there's been no other movement at any other time," said David Veness of Scotland Yard.

Sources say they have been able to link at least three hijackers to associates of bin Laden, and they're hoping that by finding the masterminds they can prove even more links to his al Qaeda network.

-- From CNN National Correspondent Eileen O'Connor.


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