Two Former New Jersey Residents in Fake Id Ring Linked to Sept. 11 Hijackers
by Jeffrey Gold, Associated Press
NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) - Two men have been charged with participating in a fake identification ring that supplied documents to some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, court documents show.
One of the men, Eyad M. Alrababah, a former New Jersey resident, approached federal authorities Sept. 29 and told them he had "spent time" with several of the suspected terrorists but did not know their plans, according to the documents.
The other man charged - an illegal Jordanian immigrant named Abdel Rahman Omar Tawfiq Alfauru - allegedly obtained fake Virginia identification from Alrababah.
Alrababah told agents he recognized photos of hijackers Hani Hanjour, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ahmed Alghamdi and Majed Moqed, according to an FBI filing.
"According to Alrababah he spent time with several of the suspected hijackers in Virginia and Connecticut, but claimed he had no idea that they were terrorists or were planning to hijack aircraft," the FBI filing said.
Prosecutors in Newark and Alexandria declined Wednesday to elaborate on Alrababah's activities, if any, with the suspected terrorists.
Alrababah told agents he had lived in West Paterson, New Jersey, and briefly in Falls Church - where several of the hijackers lived in an apartment complex - before moving to Bridgeport, Connecticut, the document said.
Alfauru's bogus driver's license and identification cards listed the same address in Falls Church, Virginia, as six of the hijackers, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said.
"This is a painstaking law enforcement investigation that will go bit by bit to help us understand what happened Sept. 11," Christie said.
Alfauru did not speak during a hearing Wednesday in New Jersey. He was ordered held without bail, pending his transfer to Virginia where he faces federal prosecution for document fraud related to helping another man obtain fake identification. His public defender, David A. Holman, declined to comment.
The FBI complaint against Alfauru outlines a paper trail of applications and certifications by him and others that were used to obtain Virginia identification documents. No meeting with Hanjour or any other hijacking suspect is mentioned.
The hijackers exploited a loophole that allowed people to obtain ID cards and drivers' licenses from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles without proof of identity or residency. The loophole, which allowed sworn statements instead, was closed 10 days after the attacks.
At least four other people have pleaded guilty in similar cases and received sentences ranging from four to 27 months. Among them is Luis Martinez-Flores of Falls Church, Virginia, who also used the same address.
Martinez-Flores certified a Falls Church address for Hanjour, who used it to get fake identification for another hijacking suspect, Majed Moqed.
Martinez-Flores was sentenced to 21 months in prison after admitting he helped two hijackers obtain fake identification and misled the FBI about possible future attacks.