Terrorism Suspect had Florida Link

Man worked for Toronto copy shop earlier this year

by Bill Schiller
Toronto Star
October 26, 2001


Nabil Al-Marabh, a former Toronto resident who continues to be questioned in New York in connection with the World Trade Center attacks, once lived in Florida, held a Florida driver's license and applied for work at a Tampa, Fla., cab company.

It is not clear how long he lived there, but his signature and smiling photograph were taken in the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office on Feb. 2, 1999, when he applied for a cab driver's license.

His presence in the state is a troubling detail: At least 14 of the 19 suspected hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attacks also resided in Florida. And a report published in the New York Times last month said Al-Marabh had been linked in a pre-Sept. 11 U.S. Customs Services investigation with two of the suspected hijackers, Satam al-Suqami and Ahmed Alghamdi.

Both men, FBI records show, also resided in Florida.

Al-Marabh's former roommate a man who would only identify himself as Hussein was highly anxious when reached by The Star at his home in Florida last night.

"I have nothing to say, I'm sorry. I'm not talking to you about it. That was two years ago. It's done," Hussein said. "I don't understand the language. I'm not talking about it."

Hussein did say he was interviewed by the FBI and had co-operated fully.

Last night, neither the FBI nor the U.S. Customs Service would comment on the Al-Marabh investigation.

"I can't even tell you if he's still being detained," said Joe Valiquette of the FBI's New York office.

However, a Washington official, speaking on the basis of anonymity, said the FBI investigation of Al-Marabh is continuing. The source also confirmed that Al-Marabh and another man, Raed Hijazi, currently on trial on terrorism-related charges in Jordan, engaged in international money transfers.

The official would not comment further.

Al-Marabh is known to have collected many driver's licences. Michigan state records show he applied for and received five driver's licences there in a period of 13 months. He also carried driver's licences for Massachusetts, Illinois and Ontario, as well as Florida.In Michigan, records show he obtained a permit to drive hazardous materials including explosives.

And in August this year, he applied for a job driving truck with a Summit, Ill., trucking firm but was turned down. The owner said that Al-Marabh proposed that he begin by driving for the firm with an Arab-American contract driver who drove for the firm and whom he had recently met.

A former girlfriend in Boston also told The Star that Al-Marabh had once shown her photographs of himself with a friend during a visit they had made to Afghanistan.

Al-Marabh entered Canada in 1994 and had at least two Toronto addresses. In the last year, he had worked at the Best Copy photocopy shop on Charles St. W., where his uncle is general manager. He was arrested near Chicago Sept. 19.

In the last seven years, Al-Marabh is known to have lived in Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Tampa and Chicago.

The cab driving application said he resided in Florida from 1994 until 1998 and he had worked as a mechanic. He used a Social Security number he obtained while residing in Massachusetts in 1989.

Canadian documents, however, also show that during this period, Al-Marabh entered Canada and was turned down as a Convention Refugee. He was subsequently ordered removed in 1995 and he returned to the U.S.


Copyright 2001 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.

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