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Police searching for 'next Mohammed Atta'
Posted By Sherrie Gossett On 07/01/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama are on alert for the possible entry of suspected terrorist Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, after Honduran authorities warned that the 29-year old suspect, referred to by law enforcement sources as “the next Mohammed Atta,” may be seeking to cross into one of the countries.
Costa Rica is bordered on the north by Nicaragua and on the south by Panama.
Shukrijumah, who is considered one of the FBI’s “top 5″ terrorist concerns, allegedly was spotted in Honduras on May 27 at a Tegucigalpa Internet cafe
Adnan G. El Shukrijumah
“We found out that this man was in Tegucigalpa at the end of May,” Leonel Sauceda, spokesman for the Honduran Security Ministry told media. “He was seen in an Internet cafe in the city and we confirmed that he made phone calls to France and the United States from there.”
Calls were also made to Canada, according to the Security Ministry.
An official with the Honduran Security Ministry told WND the female Internet caf? owner recognized Shukrijumah from photos in the newspaper. Police arrived at the caf? just after the suspect had left.
He apparently was speaking in English, and a little in Spanish and French. The suspect was seen with two bearded individuals who “had a rough appearance,” according to the government official. Information from the cafe’s phone records has been relayed to various allied foreign intelligence agencies.
The Honduran official told WND that border security in Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua had been strengthened after the terror suspect was spotted in Tegucigalpa.
She also said, “We don’t know his arrival date or the method of his arrival.”
Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez currently is in a meeting with the Honduran president. The Security Ministry is working closely with the U.S. Embassy in Honduras.
Carlos Bakota, the U.S. Embassy press attache in Costa Rica, also
confirmed that the country was on alert for possible entry of the suspect. Costa Rican Security Minister Rogelio Ramos will meet officials of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica today. The US Embassy in Panama is awaiting guidance from the State Department.
The Honduran press initially quoted Security Minister Oscar Alvarez as saying Shukrijumah had been involved in a plot to disrupt shipping lanes by using explosives to damage the Panama Canal. Three hours after WND reported that FBI officials, the U.S. Embassy in Panama and the FBI legal attache in Panama had no knowledge of the allegations and could not confirm the report, Oscar Alvarez clarified the allegations and denied he referenced a plot to bomb the Panama Canal.
The bomb-plot story was also picked up by Bloomberg News, which used the Agence France-Presse story as its sole source.
Early in May, UPI reported that the Honduran Attorney General’s office and the Ministry of Security were investigating possible links between the terrorist group al-Qaida and Islamic organizations in Honduras. After three months of investigations, Attorney General Ovidio Navarro told media that a network of Islamic organizations in Honduras was attempting to recruit Honduran youths.
Muslim groups allegedly offered to finance their contacts’ studies in Middle Eastern countries, with the ultimate objective of recruiting followers for a guerilla war against the West. Extensive illicit trafficking in fake Honduran passports being used by Afghan and Pakistani citizens has also been reported.
Earlier this year the U.S. Embassy in Honduras sent an official report to President Ricardo Maduro revealing that a Honduran consulate in an undisclosed Latin American country was secretly issuing the documents.
Honduras is thought to be a possible al-Qaida target due to its support of the U.S. in Iraq. The threats have caused authorities to amplify efforts to track suspicious international fund transfers and to ramp up safety measures in airports, commercial ports and public areas.
An area Muslim leader has expressed skepticism of the charges, stating that the Arab-Honduran population of Honduras was mainly made up of the very young or elderly, most of whom had converted to Christianity, while maintaining the language and traditions of their Middle Eastern countries of origin.
Terror suspect Adnan G. El Shukrijumah is a former resident of Miramar, South Florida, where he attended computer and English classes at Broward Community College in 1997.
A native of Guyana, El Shukrijumah’s father, Gulshai, died in Miramar on June 12. Relatives said he suffered a series of strokes since hearing his son had been named by the FBI as a serious threat to U.S. interests at home and abroad. Family members deny the charges.
The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., said the son is also not a Saudi citizen and if he is traveling using a Saudi passport, then he has obtained it and is using it illegally. He was last spotted six months ago in Guyana.
“He is a big threat,” FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela previously told media. “We believe that he could be planning terrorist activities against the U.S. interests here or abroad. So, we’d like to find him as soon as we can.”
Today the FBI said it had no further comment on Shukrijumah’s case or the Central American alert.
“We’re going to let what’s already out there in the media stand,” said the official.
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