Sunday, July 09, 2006

California Dreamin' - "Chat Room Bomber" Visit Disclosed / UPDATE - Burnin' Down The House

Port Authority Police Lt. John Ryan walks into the PATH train tunnel under the World Trade Center disaster site in this April 16, 2002 file photo in New York. Authorities thwarted an alleged terrorist plot to use suicide bombers in the PATH tunnels which extend under the Hudson River and link New Jersey with lower Manhattan. The terrorists believed that by bombing the train tunnels, they could unleash a flood on Lower Manhattan, including Wall Street, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File

Upon deeper review of the "Chat Room Bomber's" possessions, it was discovered that the terrorist arrested in Libya last week, had visited California in recent years.

Five other suspects are still at large.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -

Suspect in tunnel plot said to visit U.S.
By PAT MILTON, Associated Press Writer - with contributions from Hussein Dakroub/Beirut, Lebanon. - 1 hour, 31 minutes ago

Lebanese authorities found maps and bombing plans on the personal computer of an al-Qaida loyalist accused of plotting to attack New York train tunnels, and a U.S. official disclosed that he had visited the country at least once.

Acting Lebanese Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat described the information found on 31-year-old Assem Hammoud's computer as "very important."

"It contained maps and bombing plans that were being prepared," Fatfat said in a local television interview.

In the U.S., a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Hammoud had visited the United States at least once — a trip to California six years ago.

The official said Hammoud had a legitimate visa for a brief stay, and was believed to have been visiting either family or friends. The visit occurred long before authorities say the tunnel plot began to unfold.
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Lebanese security officials told The Associated Press that they obtained "important information" from Hammoud's computer and CDs seized from his office at the Lebanese International University, where he taught economics.

"This information helped the investigators make Hammoud confess to his role in plotting a terror act in America," one Lebanese official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

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Other suspects still at large include a Saudi, a Yemeni, a Jordanian, a Palestinian, and an Iranian Kurd, As-Safir said.

The suspect's family denied that he had any al-Qaida links. His mother, Nabila Qotob, said Hammoud was an outdoorsy person who drank alcohol, had girlfriends and bore none of the hallmarks of an Islamic extremist.

Hammoud studied at Concordia University in Montreal for seven years beginning in 1995, university spokeswoman Chris Mota said Sunday. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in commerce in 2002.

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UPDATE:

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -

Official: Tunnel plot suspect mulled arson
By PAT MILTON, Associated Press Writer - Mon Jul 10, 4:16 PM ET

NEW YORK - The Lebanese man accused of plotting to destroy and flood Hudson River train tunnels also discussed the possibility of setting wildfires in California to inflict harm on the U.S., a federal official said Monday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said wildfires were "only part of their planning discussions. No steps were taken to carry it out."
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The possible fire plot and backpacks — first reported by Newsday and the Los Angeles Times — were among several new allegations to emerge in recent days about the 31-year-old Hammoud, who was arrested in Lebanon in April.
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Hammoud's family denied that he had any al-Qaida links. His mother, Nabila Qotob, said Hammoud was an outdoorsy person who drank alcohol and had girlfriends — none of the hallmarks of an Islamic extremist.
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