Marabh, Pilots Linked

In Regular Contact With Atta, Al-Shehhi, U.S. Police Say

by Tom Godfrey
The Toronto Sun
November 16, 2001


U.S. police have linked Parkdale refugee claimant Nabil Al-Marabh to at least two of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida suicide pilots as officers step up their probe into his activities before Sept. 11.

Police yesterday weren't releasing the identities of the kamikaze pilots who were in contact with Al-Marabh before the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York City.

The RCMP and the FBI refused to comment yesterday on their probe. However, police said Al-Marabh, 35, was in regular contact with terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta, who flew the first jet into the World Trade Center, and Marwan Al-Shehhi, who piloted the second jet into the south tower.

Teams of Mounties and U.S. police probing Al-Marabh have learned he had a flurry of phone calls and financial transactions with Atta and Al-Shehhi days before the attacks.

Police said much of the evidence was seized from a downtown copy shop and three other addresses tied to Al-Marabh in Toronto and Mississauga.

The RCMP are also probing Al-Marabh's links with al-Qaida operative Raed Hijazi, now in jail in Jordan for plotting to kill American and Israeli tourists during millennium celebrations.

Police said Al-Marabh wired money to Hijazi, 32, in Jordan for the millennium plot, and both men once worked as cabbies in the Boston area.

Officers said some of their incriminating evidence was gleaned from Ahmed Ressam, who was nabbed at the Canadian-U.S. border on his way to bomb Los Angeles airport with a trunk full of explosives.

Al-Marabh, who lived in Canada for six years, is accused of providing cash, false documents and logistical support to the al-Qaida terrorists. He lived sporadically with his uncle at a Jameson Ave. apartment before his arrest in Chicago for his role in the terrorist attacks.

In another development, immigration officials are experimenting with a hi-tech way to identify refugee claimants who destroy their papers on the plane trip to Canada.

Immigration officers are scanning the documents of suspicious travellers boarding flights for Canada and burning them onto CDs.

Officers said the travellers are targeted because it is believed they will destroy their documents to claim refugee status. The CDs are given to the flight crew to bring to Canada.

Immigration spokesman Simone MacAndrews said in the last six years about 33,000 people have been stopped abroad trying to travel to Canada with improper documents.

Meanwhile, Pearson airport security officials are still probing a number of missing clearance and security passes for the most sensitive areas of the airport.

"We are constantly reviewing our security passes," said GTAA spokesman Peter Gregg. He refused to disclose how many passes are missing.

Gregg said security officers who normally conduct outside patrols have been stationed inside the terminals to provide extra security.

Copyright 2001 Sun Media Corporation

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