Man Linked to Hijackers Indicted

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.

Cardozo said eBay should ban trade center memorabilia, at least until the city and the company can agree on what can be sold. Otherwise, he said, he may go to court.

EBay officials said the company is not likely to institute such a ban.

— The Associated Press

Airlines Saw Drop in Passengers Last Month

W A S H I N G T O N, Feb. 22 — Americans are apparently still reluctant to fly in the wake of the September terrorist attacks.

The major airlines carried 37.5 million passengers last month — 6 million fewer than in January last year.

The Air Transport Association said the number of passengers was down 14 percent. That matches a drop in December, but is not as bad as declines in October and November. And the airline trade group said it has been seeing a steady improvement in business.

Last month's passenger decline happened despite cheaper fares. Passengers paid on average 16 percent less for a domestic ticket compared to a year earlier. Fares for international flights were down 14 percent.

— The Associated Press

Unemployed Guard Pleads Guilty to WTC Looting

N E W Y O R K, Feb. 22 — An unemployed man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he looted a jewelry store Sept. 12 while pretending to be an emergency worker at the World Trade Center.

Johnny Dunham, 26, a former security guard, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and other charges, admitting he stole at least six watches from Tourneau, an upscale store in the building complex.

Dunham pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of seven years, the maximum for third-degree grand larceny. He will be eligible for parole after he serves two years and four months.

State Supreme Court Justice Herbert Altman said he will sentence Dunham on March 21.

Court documents say Dunham bragged that he stole as many as 20 watches from Tourneau and gave one $15,000 watch to a woman he was trying to impress.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Dunham, twice convicted on charges of impersonating a police officer, also stole a firefighter's jacket and an oxygen canister bag from an ambulance that was destroyed at the scene.

— The Associated Press

INS to Let Detainees Pray, Eat Special Food for Muslim Holiday

N E W A R K, N.J., Feb. 22 — Muslims held in New Jersey jails as part of the terrorism investigation will be allowed to pray together and eat special meals as they celebrate a major religious holiday this weekend, federal officials said.

Friday marks the beginning of the four-day Eid al-Adha, or "Feast Of the Sacrifice," a time when Muslims make pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the holiest times of the year in the Muslim calendar, along with the holy month of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, detainees complained they were not allowed to pray adequately in the Hudson and Passaic County jails, and were not given food prepared according to Muslim dietary laws. In protest, some detainees staged a hunger strike lasting nearly two weeks.

As a result of those problems, authorities agreed to be more accommodating this weekend, said Scott Dempsey, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Newark.

"I think we learned from that," he said. "Prior to Ramadan, I don't know if we knew what they needed. Once we know, we try to be as accommodating as we can to their religious needs."

Among other things, the traditional meal of lamb will be offered to the Muslims.

Authorities said recently they are holding about 460 detainees arrested since Sept. 11, most of them Muslims. About 90 percent are incarcerated in New Jersey, mostly on immigration charges.

Muslim community leaders in New Jersey pressed immigration officials to change the way detainees are allowed to observe the Eid.

— The Associated Press

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