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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
US hunt closes in on plotters
map showing worldwide investigation
A week after the suicide attacks, the US authorities have unearthed what appears to be substantial information including the names of the hijackers, but no direct link to Osama Bin Laden has emerged yet.

The FBI says it already knows the identity of many of those involved - the 19 hijackers, who all died in the suicide attacks, as well as dozens more who may have helped to execute the complex plan.

Finding evidence to prove Osama Bin Laden's involvement is a top priority for the FBI. The US authorities say the Saudi-born Islamic extremist is a prime suspect.

Hijacking suspects
Flight 175: Marwan Al-Shehhi, Fayez Ahmed, Mohald Alshehri, Hamza Alghamdi and Ahmed Alghamdi
Flight 11: Waleed M Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari and Satam Al Suqami
Flight 77: Khalid Al-Midhar, Majed Moqed, Nawaq Alhamzi, Salem Alhamzi and Hani Hanjour
Flight 93: Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami, Ziad Jarrahi and Saeed Alghamdi
Investigators believe they may have found a link between two of the suicide bombers and a group of Bin Laden's associates who tried to blow up hundreds of American tourists in Jordan during the millennium celebrations.

On Monday, FBI Director Robert Mueller said 49 suspects had been detained for immigration violations.

Law enforcement officials say they are particularly interested in five foreign-born men.

Two of them were detained in Texas after getting off a plane and were found to be carrying box cutters similar to those used in the hijackings.

One official said he believed they may have intended to hijack another plane.

Two men were also seized at a train station in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday.

Osama Bin Lade
FBI picture of Osama Bin Laden: His exact location is unknown

Identified as Ayub Ali Khan and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, they were reportedly carrying $5,000 in cash and knives similar to those used in the hijacking.

The FBI are currently trying to track down 170 people for questioning.

Another man, Habib Zcarias Moussaoui, was detained in Minnesota in August after trying to get commercial airliner training at a flying school despite a lack of experience.

According to the Washington Post, he has been identified by the French authorities as an associate of Osama Bin Laden.

Saudi links

Another significant feature of the investigation is the strong Saudi connection.

The FBI says 14 of the 19 hijackers had some connection with the kingdom although some of those may have been using false documents.

Click here to see a map of the flight paths

Saudi newspapers have reported that two of the hijackers were the sons of a former diplomat who served at the Saudi embassy in Washington in the mid 1990s. The diplomat himself has denied this.

Appeal for agents

As the investigation fans out across the globe the FBI has received more than 50,000 e-mails and phone calls offering tips.

Mr Mueller has directed the US Marshals Service to assign more than 300 deputies to assist about 4,000 FBI agents already working on the investigation.

German police
Apartments in Hamburg have been searched

Demonstrating the difficulties facing the investigators, Mr Mueller publicly appealed for people with a "professional level in Arabic and Farsi" to come forward.

Police and anti-terrorist experts Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands met in Brussels to discuss progress so far in EU investigations into the attacks.

In Germany, a special police unit probing connections to three suspects in the attacks on the United States has searched a further four apartments - two in the northern city of Hamburg and two in the western town of Bochum.

Global effort

Italian stock market authorities are investigating abnormal movements in share prices on the Milan stock exchange prior to the attacks, which could indicate that terrorists had speculated on the markets.

The Russian internal security service says it has found a computer compact disc during a raid in Chechnya on a group said to have contacts with Osama Bin Laden.

It contains instructions for piloting Boeing aircraft similar to those hijacked for the attacks in the United States last week.

Communications

Officials claim that electronic surveillance in the last few days has given them reason to believe that Osama Bin Laden was involved.

But they will also be searching retrospectively for communications about the hijackings - made before they took place - by getting internet service providers to hand over information about the origin of the messages.

Key evidence is likely to be contained in the black boxes - or flight recorders - which record flight data, and cockpit conversations.

Both recorders have been recovered from two of the aircraft: Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon, and Flight 93 from Newark, which crashed in Pennsylvania.

Together with the descriptions given by passengers, in their last frantic telephone calls, they will help to reconstruct events in the minutes before the crashes.


Map showing the routes taken by the flights that crashed on Tuesday

Click here to return

See also:

17 Sep 01 | Americas
Net closing on terror suspects
14 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
FBI probes ISPs for clues
14 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Manila hotel raid over US attacks
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Q&A: Learning to fly a plane
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