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Ashcroft Briefs Reporters

Aired January 25, 2002 - 16:38   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.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Attorney General John Ashcroft at the Justice Department here in Washington.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Along with FBI Director Mueller, the Department of Justice released photographs and video of five suspected terrorists. Our initial analysis of the video indicated that the videotapes depicted young men delivering what appeared to be martyrdom messages from suicide terrorists.

As of last week, we had identified four of the individuals, Ramzi bin Al-Shibh (ph), Abd Al-Rahim, Mohammad Sa'id Ali Hasan, and Khalid bin Muhammad Al-Juhani. At that time, the identify of the fifth suspected terrorist remained unknown.

Over the last week we've received hundreds of leads from conscientious citizens across the nation and around the world. With these leads and further analysis of evidence recovered from the rubble of Mohammed Atef's house in Afghanistan, we have gained additional information about the fifth suspected terrorist.

The name of the fifth terrorist is Abderraouf Binalhabib (ph) Binuzef (ph) Jdey.

Jdey, who is a Canadian citizen, was born in Tunisia and is 36 years of age. He has black hair, is approximately 5'10" tall, and may weigh approximately 220 pounds.

We identified Jdey through discovery of a suicide letter found in the ruins of the Atef residence by the U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. The letter, which is still being fully analyzed, was recently translated.

In addition, the Canadian assisted us by identifying Jdey.

We have also identified an associate who may be traveling with Jdey. His name is Faqir Boussora (ph). He is 37 years of age, is approximately 5'8", weighs approximately 160 to 170 pounds, has a round face and prominent ears.

We believe Boussora (ph) may also be involved in a martyrdom mission. Boussora (ph) is also a Canadian citizen born in Tunisia. The FBI has alerted law enforcement authorities across the United States and is also working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Both individuals should be considered extremely dangerous. Additionally, the FBI has provided law enforcement with the same pictures that you see to my left.

The photograph in the upper left is the picture you saw last week of Jdey, taken from the video. Below that picture is a photograph retouched by the FBI to show how Jdey may look with a westernized appearance. The picture in the upper right was found with the 1999 suicide letter in the ruins of Atef's house in Afghanistan. Finally, the picture in the lower right corner is of Faqir Boussora (ph), Jdey's associate.

Today I am also disclosing FBI retouched photographs of the other four individuals seen on the videos recovered from Atef's residence in Afghanistan. Again, these retouched photos show how these individuals may look with a westernized appearance.

We hope that by providing these photos to the media that citizens will be able to help law enforcement identify and apprehend these terrorists.

In particular, I would like to thank the Canadian government for providing significant assistance in the identification of Jdey. Today's announcement demonstrates the extraordinarily close and cooperative relationship that has been built between the United States and Canadian law enforcement.

Today's announcement is another example of the integrated effort we are pursuing to protect all people of all nations from cowardly acts of terrorism. It is a seamless effort that involves civil authorities, military authorities, intelligence resources, intelligence analysis, law enforcement and the cooperation from foreign governments.

As we discover more information, we will continue to share it with the international community to assist our efforts against terrorism.

Again, I want to advise the public to exercise vigilance and common sense in the face of the terrorism threat.

Anyone who believes that he or she knows the identity or whereabouts of Jdey, Boussora or the four other suspected terrorists, anyone who knows or has information about them is urged to contact the nearest FBI office or visit the FBI's website, www.ifccfbi.gov, or contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in a foreign setting if individuals are unable to contact the FBI.

I am grateful for the cooperation of both citizens and governments in helping us develop these tools of investigation.

I'd be pleased to answer your inquiries at this time. Yes?

QUESTION: Where did you obtain the picture of Boussora (ph)?

ASHCROFT: I'm prepared to provide the picture, and grateful that we have these resources. I'm not prepared to identify further.

QUESTION: Did they tell you in any way these two were linked? Can you tell us anything about that?

ASHCROFT: I've provided the information that I'm able to provide you on that.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Do you have any information that developed since you original by put these out that these people are still alive or that they may be in the United States?

ASHCROFT: We do not know the whereabouts of these individuals. As a result, we are publicizing their photographs worldwide.

It is my understanding that we have the cooperation not only of international news agencies in doing this -- and I released these photos with Larry King last Monday night, and indicated at that time we would provide the additional enhanced images. We are expecting people like America's 10 Most Wanted and other shows of that nature to also publicize them.

Yes?

QUESTION: Have you got any more information that they may have tried to enter the United States?

ASHCROFT: We are not in possession of information giving us a location of these people.

QUESTION: When is the last time that Jdey was known to have been in Canada? Are you concerned that the suspects may have reached closer to the U.S. border?

ASHCROFT: I really don't know the answer to that question. We will try to find out as much as we can about the whereabouts of these individuals as the investigation progresses.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: You said you received hundreds of tips from people who had seen these people. Can you give us an idea of whether these are associates of them, how these people knew the suspects?

ASHCROFT: We have, in terms of -- I can't catalog all of the tips we have received, but we received information that helped us make these identifications. And to say more, I can't.

QUESTION: Did the latest suicide letter give any indication of a planned attack? Do you have any further information that these men pose an imminent danger?

ASHCROFT: Well, we think that individuals who make suicide videos and write suicide letters are dangerous individuals. They are individuals who have expressed their intention to hurt other people and to extinguish themselves in the process, and that's a way of signaling the intensity of their intent.

QUESTION: Was this letter, the suicide letter, written by Jdey or his associate here? (OFF-MIKE)

ASHCROFT: It's my understanding that he is the author of the letter and that the photograph on the upper right of the poster on the left was a photograph accompanying the letter when found.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) suicide note, as well? Was there a suicide note by...

ASHCROFT: We believe that he may be an associate of this other individual, but we do not have information about a suicide letter from him.

WOODRUFF: Attorney General John Ashcroft revealing to reporters the identity -- what the FBI has determined to be, and the Justice Department, the identity of the fifth of those five suspected terrorists, a video released just about a week ago. We heard John Ashcroft say he is believed to be Abderraouf Jdey. He is he considered dangerous because of his participation, as you just heard the attorney general say, in a suicide video and because he is presumed to have written a suicide letter.

He also identified a companion of his, named Boussora (ph). And they are believed to be traveling together -- and the attorney general basically saying to everyone to be on the lookout for these two because of what they may have in mind.

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