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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Al-Qaeda 'fake ID supplier' flees US
Fraudulent cards seized by Passaic County sheriffs officer on Wednesday
False identification documents sold for up to $800
A man accused of having sold fake identification documents to some of the hijackers in the 11 September attacks has fled from the United States to Egypt, US authorities say.


He was providing documents for all kinds of people... even hijackers

Sheriff Jerry Speziale

Police raided the New Jersey house and businesses of Mohamed al-Atriss - a naturalised US citizen of Egyptian origin - but were told he had left the country.

Police say Mr Atriss, 43, ran a large illegal operation to manufacture counterfeit documents - but they found no evidence to show that he knew of the hijackers' plans.

Three of his associates have been detained on forgery and conspiracy charges.

Fugitive

Agents in New Jersey had been investigating Mr Atriss for months. He was allegedly selling false identification documents for as much as $800 each.

When they raided his office in the town of Paterson, investigators found rolls of plastic laminating sheets and backings used to make driver's licences.

Mohamed al-Atriss
Atriss flew to Cairo 'on business'
"He basically was providing documents for all kinds of people, whether it be illegal aliens, criminal aliens or even hijackers," Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale said.

Police said Mr Atriss had sold fake cards to Khalid Almihdhar, who was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, and Abdulaziz Alomari, one of militants who boarded the plane that flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Mr Atriss is wanted on 28 counts of fraud, and it now considered a fugitive.

Three associates have been arrested on charges of conspiracy and manufacturing false documents.


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24 Jul 02 | Americas
20 Jul 02 | Americas
17 Jul 02 | Americas
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
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