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Investigation: Suspected hijack associate pleads innocent

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Attorney General John Ashcroft speaking at a recent news conference.  


SUMMARY:

In Virginia, a man investigated for possible ties to hijackers who rammed a jetliner into the Pentagon on September 11 pleaded innocent Monday to charges he illegally diverted rent assistance money he received from local government.

In Illinois, a man who tried to board a United Airlines flight armed with nine knives, a can of Mace and a stun gun was re-arrested by the FBI, after being released earlier by local authorities, officials said Monday.

Elsewhere, a 21-year-old Jordanian man entered a plea of not guilty Monday to charges of lying before a grand jury investigating the September terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

UPDATE:

Mohamed Abdi was taken into custody September 14 after FBI agents found his telephone number on a Washington, D.C., map in a rental car at Dulles airport. (Full story)

Suspected suicide hijacker Nawaf al Hazmi, a Saudi national, who is thought to have been among the terrorists who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, had rented the car.

The only charges against Abdi are unrelated to the terrorist attacks. He is charged with several counts of forgery in connection with rental subsidy checks. He allegedly took checks from the Arlington County, Virginia, government for housing subsidies and failed to pass the funds to his landlord.

In Chicago, the man arrested at O'Hare, Subash Gurung, 27, was charged Sunday night with unlawfully taking a weapon into an airport, and he is expected to be arraigned in district court later Monday. (Full story)

Gurung had been arrested Saturday night and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and attempting to board an aircraft with a weapon, both misdemeanor charges. Gurung, who said he was from Nepal, was initially released on bond and told to appear in court December 19.

Meanwhile, seven airport security workers at O'Hare were suspended in the wake of the security breach, which drew the condemnation of the nation's largest flight attendant union.

Osama Awadallah, a permanent U.S. resident who has lived in San Diego for three years, allegedly lied twice to the grand jury last month about his knowledge of Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, whom the Justice Department has identified as two of the hijackers on board American Airlines Flight 77, which slammed into the Pentagon.

In testimony on October 10, Awadallah conceded seeing Alhazmi about 35 to 40 times in the San Diego area between April 2000 and January 2001 at Awadallah's workplace, a Texaco station, and at a mosque. But initially he said he did not know anyone named "Khalid" and did not recognize photos of Almihdhar, who had accompanied Alhazmi on about three occasions.

Awadallah also claimed he did not write the names "Nawaf" and "Khalid" in a writing exercise at Grossmont Community College, where he is taking classes, including one in English as a second language. On September 15, after the suspected hijackers' names were publicized, a teacher turned in the exam booklet to authorities.


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

Attack on America
 CNN.COM SPECIAL REPORT
 CNN NewsPass Video 
Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
 MORE STORIES
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
 EXTRA INFORMATION
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
 RESOURCES
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

 VIDEO
FBI agents are probing an apartment complex with links to both the September 11 hijackings and anthrax mailings. CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports (November 2)

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KEY QUESTIONS:

Investigators have detained hundreds of people in the U.S., but not much is known about who these people are or why they are in custody. Why is this information about the hundreds of people detained so difficult to obtain?

Should the government keep information about the detained from the public?

What tactics are being used to get people in custody to talk about any knowledge they may have of the September attacks?

What avenues are international investigators pursuing to trace the source of funding for the suspected hijackers? Click here for more.

What clues about the September 11 attacks have U.S. investigators learned from the hundreds of arrests made?

How will the expansion of law-enforcement powers affect Americans' civil liberties? Click here for more.

How long can suspects be held, and on what charges are they being held? Click here for more.

What groups are U.S. investigators focusing on, and what are their aims? Click here for more.

WHO'S WHO:

George W. Bush: U.S. president

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state Click here for more

Condoleezza Rice: National security adviser Click here for more

John Ashcroft: U.S. attorney general

Robert Mueller: FBI director Click here for more

George Tenet: CIA director. Click here for more

Osama bin Laden: U.S. authorities have named bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi exile living in Afghanistan, as the prime suspect in masterminding the September 11 attacks. Click here for more

IMPACT:

Information gained from the investigation could lead to fundamental changes in U.S. security and intelligence systems, as well as surveillance laws.



 
 
 
 



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