A Virginia man with ties to Sept. 11 ringleader Mohammed Atta is indicted on document fraud charges. New York City demands eBay stop selling World Trade Center memorabilia. Americans still seem reluctant to fly in the wake of the terrorist attacks. A man pleads guilty to looting a jewelry store while pretending to be an emergency worker at the World Trade Center.
Virginia Man Linked to Hijackers Indicted
A L E X A N D R I A, Va., Feb. 22 — A Virginia man with ties to Sept. 11 ringleader Mohammed Atta was indicted Thursday on two counts of document fraud, charged with helping an associate of Osama bin Laden obtain a fake ID.
Agus Budiman, 31, an Indonesian native, has been detained since his arrest Oct. 30. Authorities are suspicious of his links to Atta and others whom federal authorities have identified as terrorists, but Budiman's lawyers say their client is merely a victim of guilt by association.
Seven of the Sept. 11 hijackers were able to exploit a loophole that allowed people to obtain drivers' licenses and ID cards by submitting sworn statements instead of proof of residency or identity. The loophole was closed Sept. 21.
The indictment alleges that in November 2000, Budiman falsely certified that another man listed as an unindicted co-conspirator was a Virginia resident, allowing that man to obtain an ID card from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Previous court records indicate the man was Mohammad Bin Nasser Belfas, who has been named by authorities as a contact for bin Laden.
Federal authorities have also said Ziad Jarrah, one of the Sept. 11 hijackers, listed Budiman's address on an application to enter the United States. Another man, Ramsi Binalshibh, twice listed Budiman's address in an unsuccessful effort to get into the country.
Budiman's lawyers say his address was put on those two visa applications without his permission.
Authorities have said Binalshibh, a roommate of Atta, may have been "the 20th hijacker" who was supposed to be aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11.
Budiman has acknowledged attending the same mosque in Hamburg, Germany, as Atta and helping Atta move into an apartment in 1998. But his lawyers said Budiman helped Atta only because that way he could borrow a car to move his own belongings.
Budiman's lawyer, William Moffitt, did not immediately return calls seeking comment. In a previous court appearance, he said Budiman had passed an FBI lie-detector test in which he denied any advance knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Budiman will be arraigned March 4.
Budiman is one of five people charged with document fraud in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. The other four have all pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from four to 27 months.
— The Associated Press
NYC Tells eBay to Stop Selling WTC Memorabilia
N E W Y O R K, Feb. 22 — New York City is furious over what it sees as an attempt by eBay to exploit a tragedy.
In a letter to the online auction company, the city's top lawyer demanded that that eBay remove from its Web site all items related to the World Trade Center attack.
According to Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, many of the items represent what he called "outrageous attempts to profit from a recent act of mass murder." He added that the items themselves may be the result of unlawful activity.