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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
FBI widens the net
Attorney General John Ashcroft
The attorney-general announced new legal powers
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a new list of nearly 200 people wanted in connection with last week's devastating suicide attacks in New York and Washington DC.

Criminal charges relating to false papers have been filed against three men, who were arrested in Detroit, Michigan, allegedly in possession of airport diagrams.


The day planner contained handwritten sketches of what appeared to be a diagram of an airport flight line

FBI affidavit
In another development, Attorney-General John Ashcroft has disclosed that the authorities are looking into whether other flights - apart from the four that crashed last Tuesday - had been targeted for hijacking.

Mr Ashcroft said 75 people were being questioned in relation to the case - most detained on immigration violations. Among those held is a man detained in Minnesota on 17 August for illegally entering the US, who is said to have unsuccessfully tried to have completed pilot training courses, including one in Oklahoma.

The three men who were arrested in Detroit have been charged with possession of false papers.

Police at Boston's Logan International Airport
The FBI has warned there could be more attacks
Police are said to have found a diary there containing notes on a US airbase in Turkey and Alia Airport in Jordan.

"The day planner also contained handwritten sketches of what appeared to be a diagram of an airport flight line, to include aircraft and runways," said an FBI affidavit quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Ashcroft said the FBI was investigating whether mechanical failure may have thwarted the hijacking of a fifth plane last week.

Agents are said to have discovered that an American Airlines flight was due to leave Boston for Los Angeles on 11 September, but was cancelled at the last minute for technical reasons.

The FBI is particularly keen to trace a number of men with Arabic sounding names who are believed to have left the plane when the flight was cancelled, and failed to rebook their seats when it eventually went back into service.

Texas probe

The authorities also believe they may have foiled an attempt to hijack a United Airlines flight from San Antonio in Texas to Denver, Colorado.

George Bush
Bush: Wants Bin Laden dead or alive
Four men of Middle Eastern origin reportedly bought seats on the flight. A Saudi medical student has been taken into custody and flown to New York for questioning, while three other men are being sought by detectives.

Two other Arabs were arrested on a train heading to San Antonio. The authorities say they were carrying hair dye, thousands of dollars in cash, and the type of knives believed to have been used by hijackers on the other flights.

Mr Ashcroft announced the creation of anti-terrorism task forces to be attached to every federal prosecutor's office in the country.

"These task forces will be a part of the national network that will co-ordinate the dissemination of information and the development of a strategy to disrupt, dismantle and punish terrorist organisations throughout the country," he said.

Federal prosecutors have set up a grand jury investigative panel in New York to make it easier to summon people and documents, in an effort to speed up the legal process.

Iraqi link?

In another move, immigration authorities are being allowed two days rather than one to decide whether to press charges on immigration violations against those being held.

FBI cyber-investigators meanwhile have been tracking down e-mails sent and received by the suspected 19 hijackers and their associates, and have also asked banks to report any transactions made by people currently under investigation.

Other investigators are looking into reports that one of the hijacker suspects, Mohammed Atta, met a senior Iraqi intelligence official earlier this year, US government sources say. Iraq denies the allegation.

See also:

18 Sep 01 | Americas
FBI probes 'attempted fifth hijack'
15 Sep 01 | Americas
Worldwide hunt for hijack plotters
17 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush ponders hits on terror chiefs
15 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe hunts for US clues
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Nineteen hijack suspects named
13 Sep 01 | Americas
Evidence trails lead to Florida
14 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
FBI probes ISPs for clues
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Q&A: Learning to fly a plane
18 Sep 01 | Americas
US terror threat remains
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