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America's New War: FBI Matching Names and Identities

Aired September 21, 2001 - 05:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We also have word this morning about another arrest in the U.S. in the wide ranging investigation. Now the FBI is trying to sort out a complicated web of names and identities which often don't match up. CNN's Kelli Arena with that.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A man believed by investigators to have ties to two of the alleged hijackers and to Osama bin Laden is under arrest. Identified in court documents as Nabil Almarabh, he was captured by local police and the FBI just outside Chicago. Wanted by the FBI he was also wanted for failing to show up in court in Boston.

KATHLEEN MCCHESNEY, FBI: An individual by the name of Nabil Almarabh is also listed on the FBI's watch list compiled last week following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. This investigation is continuing in an attempt to verify Almarabh's identity and nationality.

ARENA: Investigative sources say Almarabh has ties to this man, Rieb Hijasi (ph), currently on trial in Jordan for allegedly planning a terrorist attack during millennium celebrations.

Jordanian authorities have said Hijasi (ph) is linked to bin Laden.

One clue the FBI is trying to follow up on is this photograph. It was found while searching Al Almarabh's Detroit apartment. The bureau wants to know who he is.

With the latest arrests there are now more than 125 people in custody, most for immigration violations. Sources tell CNN information culled so far indicates all the alleged hijackers were funded through the same source. But following the money trail will be difficult especially because the FBI now is not sure all the names on its original hijacker list are correct. Identities may have been stolen.

In fact, a list of hijacking suspects sent to banking officials by the FBI suggests one of those identified on an original list, Khalid Al-Midhar, may still be alive.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: We have several hijackers whose identities were those of the names on the manifest. We have several others that are still in question. So it's -- the investigation is ongoing and I am not certain as to several of the others.

ARENA: FBI Director Robert Mueller who toured the Pennsylvania crash site says investigators are still analyzing the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from that site. There has been information that passengers on the plane tried to overtake the hijackers. Without providing details Mueller did offer this assessment.

MUELLER: Both the Attorney General and I and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania have indicated we believe those passengers on this jet were absolute heroes and their actions during this flight were heroic.

ARENA (on camera): One of the most pressing goals of the investigation is to concretely determine whether there are other terrorist attacks planned. An official said Wednesday there was quote, "no credible evidence of any specific threat." But now they appear to be reluctant to discuss the matter and slightly less certain.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

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