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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


FBI, INS arrest, detain over 350 people in probe

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) — The FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service have arrested or detained more than 350 people in the investigation into the Sept. 11hijacked airplane attacks on U.S. landmarks, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Ashcroft said the FBI wanted to question nearly 400 more individuals who remained at large and who might have information helpful to the investigation of the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.

In another development in the investigation, the FBI said five of the 19 hijackers engaged in a fraudulent scheme to get a Virginia driver’s license or identification card last month.

Herbert Villalobos, using the alias Oscar Diaz, was charged in connection with the scheme that enabled the hijackers to obtain the licenses or cards with false addresses, the FBI said.

The number sought for questioning was double the figure last given by Ashcroft, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, last Tuesday, when he said nearly 200 were being sought for interviews.


“The investigative process has yielded 324 searches, 103 court orders, and 3,410 subpoenas,” he said in giving details of the biggest investigation in FBI history, which he described as “moving aggressively forward.”

Ashcroft said a total of 352 people had been arrested or detained. Justice Department officials said 254 people had been arrested nationwide since Sept. 11, while 98 had been detained on immigration violations.

None of those arrested have been charged directly with the attacks. Some of those who were arrested already have been released, officials said.

Federal law enforcement officials said a number of people had been arrested as key witnesses because they might have important information about the attacks and posed a high risk of fleeing the country. They were unsure of the exact number, but said it exceeded four individuals.

The United States has named Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the attacks, which left nearly 7,000 dead or missing.

The FBI said Villalobos was shown photographs of five individuals suspected of being involved in the hijackings, and identified them all as having been at the

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles in nearby Arlington Aug. 2.
Among those he identified were several hijackers aboard the plane that hit the

Pentagon in suburban Virginia and aboard one of the two planes that slammed into the World Trade Center.

FBI agent Brian Weidner said in an affidavit that Villalobos assisted the hijackers in getting an “unlawfully produced” identification document.

To get a driver’s license or identification card, Virginia requires two official identification documents as proof of identity and one official or business document as proof of residency.

The hijackers lacked the documents, Weidner said.


Instead of the proof, an identity affidavit, requiring the notarized certification of an attorney, and a notarized residency certification, could be used.

Weidner said one of the hijackers on the identification card gave his address in Arlington, Va., but that really was an address belonging to Villalobos.

A hijacker on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center also obtained a Virginia identification card after his application was certified by another Hispanic man, referred to by Weidner as “confidential witness one.”

The witness told Weidner that three Arab men approached him in a parking lot near the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Arlington and asked his help in getting the identification cards.

The witness said he and Villalobos took the three men to a lawyer’s office, and they got notarized forms that the lawyer had signed in advance. The Arab men, whom he identified as the hijackers, paid him $80 for his efforts, the witness said.
Villalobos told the FBI that each of the three “Pakistani” men paid the lawyer’s secretary $35 and gave him $50.

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