CNN BREAKING NEWS
Customs Agents Execute Search Warrants
Aired December 6, 2002 - 09:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to get back right now to the breaking news story this morning out of Boston. The FBI investigating a software company there with possible links to al Qaeda.
Kelli Arena back on the phone with us to find out what she is learning today -- Kelli, what more do you have?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, we know that this investigation is going in several different directions. Last night, sources tell us that Customs agents executed several search warrants at Ptech, which is a software provider located in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Now, this company sells software to the government. Its clients include the FBI, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense. The investigation that was going on last night has to do with whether or not this company is -- was financed by an individual on the terror watch list, an individual by the name of Qasan al-Kadi (ph).
Since September 11, it has been illegal for companies to do business with anyone on the watch list, knowingly do business, and sources tell us that investigators believe that officials at this company did have knowledge of that link, and did not sever the relationship.
The reason this has caused a great deal of concern is because of that client base and the fact that this company did provide software to several government agencies that do have access, obviously, to sensitive information.
There is a separate investigation of sorts going on at those government agencies, to make sure that the software that was provided by this company has not been contaminated in any way.
I have to stress that there is absolutely no evidence, according to government officials, that that is the case. But we were told that the link between this company and those government agencies is quite troubling.
The second part of the investigation has to do with whether or not officials at Ptech are involved in a charitable organization that sends money over to the Middle East and whether or not some of those funds have been diverted to support the al Qaeda terrorist network.
That is an investigation that I am told by sources is being spear-headed by the FBI. That investigation did not have anything to do -- that part had nothing to do with the search warrants that were executed yesterday. That is a separate and ongoing investigation.
This has been -- this has been a company that officials had been looking into for several weeks at least, and we know that those search warrants that were executed last night did take some time, because they did go through computers at the site, and it's one thing to go into premises of a company to just do a general search. It's quite another to go into computer databases and retrieve information, which is what occurred at about midnight last night -- Bill.
HEMMER: Kelli, let's stress this point. No arrests have been made, right?
ARENA: That is right.
HEMMER: What does that suggest, then? The evidence not there or the evidence not there yet?
ARENA; Well, either way. I mean, it depends. You know, an investigation is an investigation. It's a work in progress until there is a conclusion either way.
And we have seen many investigations take quite a long time, especially when it comes to allegations of terror financing. That is a complicated thing to prove. And there has -- there is a lot of gaps that need to be filled in, so this is an ongoing investigation, it is something that we are told is being taken very seriously at the highest level, the White House involved in this investigation because of the company's client base.
And I also must stress that CNN is making effort to reach executives at Ptech, we have not been successful yet.
HEMMER: Kelli, thanks. Kelli Arena working the story in D.C.
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