Bin Laden Operative May Have Lived In Dorchester For More Than 10 Years

by Tom Farmer
The Boston Herald
September 19, 2001

 


A man described as an operative for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network lived in Boston for more than 10 years and had links to two hijackers in last week's attack on America and two men who lived in Everett with suspected ties to last year's bombing of the USS Cole, according to records, landlords and a published report.

Nabil al Marabh, 34, who lived in apartments on the same Dorchester street from 1989 to Sept. 2000, was part of a Customs Service investigation that also involved hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi and Satam al-Suqami, the New York Times reported.

Al Marabh was also identified as an operative with bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network by Raed M. Hijazi, a former cab driver who lived in Everett, is suspected of helping plan the Cole attack and now imprisoned in Jordan, the newspaper said.

"He was living here a long time, but moved out last year at the end of the summer," said Marik Sobocinska, 36, who lives with his mother in their well-maintained three-decker at 180 Boston St. "He lived on the second floor with his wife and stepson and moved out last year in September. His wife moved out about a month later." Sobocinska said before moving to his mother's building in 1996, al Marabh lived several blocks away in the three-decker at 147 Boston St. The suspected terrorist, whose whereabouts is unknown, still receives mail at 180 Boston St. and the Herald yesterday saw a letter that had been sent to him from the Florida-based Globe tabloid.

According to state and federal records, al Marabh received a Social Security number in Massachusetts between 1989 and 1990 and was issued a Massachusetts driver's license in the winter of 1989 with the 147 Boston St. address. Between October 1996 and October 2000, al Marabh had his license suspended twice for delays in paying fines, and was cited for several traffic violations, including speeding and failure to stop.

He also had a Boston post office box and his name came up at 1148 Commonwealth Ave. and 411 Cambridge St. in Cambridge, but checks there yesterday found no connection to al Marabh.

Sobocinska and Marian Sklodowski, also known as Marian Soltys, who owns the building at 147 Boston St., said al Marabh drove a taxi for the Boston Cab Co., the same firm that employed Hijazi, 32, an American-born Palistinian being held on charges in Jordan, and Bassam A. Kanj, 35, a Lebanon native who died there in 1999 while fighting with Muslim militants.

Hijazi and Kanj, who moved to Everett in 1996, abruptly left the Boston area in 1999 and Hijazi reportedly resurfaced in Afghanistan, where he received explosive training at one of bin Laden's camps. He was charged by Jordanian authorities with plotting to blow up the Radisson Hotel in downtown Amman where westerners and other guests rang in the year 2000.

The Times, quoting federal investigators, reported that hijackers Alghamdi and al-Suqami, who were aboard the two jetliners out of Boston that brought down the World Trade Center towers in New York, had an unspecified link to Hijazi, and that Alghamdi, al-Suqami and Hijazi had a relationship with al Marabh.

Sklodowski said he has had Palastinian tenants in the third-floor apartment at 147 Boston St. for 15 years and was always paid in cash. He said the FBI interviewed him three times last week beginning Thursday and the landlord has handed over copies of rental agreements and other documents. Agents also searched the third-floor apartment and showed Sklodowski "a bunch of pictures, but I can't recall the faces," he said.

Sklodowski said there were frequent visitors to the third-floor apartment who would stay for several weeks then be replaced by others who briefly stayed there.

"They always had friends visiting them and I hated that because I would go there and say, 'Where do you live,' and they would say, 'Right here,"' the landlord said. "When I'd ask how long they were going to stay, they'd say for a couple of weeks. They were always friendly people. I never had any problems with them."

But employees of the neighboring Bellflower Garage, which repairs Independent taxi cabs, said the Middle Eastern men who lived in the apartment and drove for Boston Cab Co. "were so ignorant and so inconsiderate. They'd park their cabs wherever they wanted and didn't care if they blocked the street, especially when it snowed," said one employee. "We were always getting complaints from the neighbors but we'd tell them those aren't our cabs."

Meanwhile yesterday, sources said a blue Hyundai was seized at Logan International Airport's central parking garage after it was a late return to Dollar Rent-A-Car. The FBI is interested because it was either rented by one of the 19 hijackers in last week's attack or someone whose name appears on a Justice Department watch list, sources said.

WBZ-TV also reported yesterday a car with Virginia plates was impounded from Columbus Avenue and that FBI agents searched a room at the Days Inn in Brighton where some of the hijackers are suspected of staying prior to the Sept. 11 sneak attack. A Days Inn manager told the Herald last week a list of guests had been turned over to Investigators.

Doug Hanchett and Maggie Mulvihill contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2001 Boston Herald Inc.

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