NORFOLK, Va. – A drawing of a plane striking the World Trade Center, flight manuals and a date book with a single entry — Sept. 11 — were among the items seized from a Virginia man authorities say was involved in a scheme to obtain fraudulent student visas for foreigners living throughout the U.S.
Another Virginia suspect, one of 58 people arrested in 13 states Tuesday, had flight training materials in his car. And now federal authorities are trying to see if they can connect the dots between any of those arrested and Usama bin Laden.
The Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday that materials authorities seized in one home in northern Virginia in December include: a Federal Aviation Administration flight manual; an aerial view of the Pentagon; a Rolodex with the locations of oil refineries; a date book that contained the Sept. 11 entry that said, "Trackd the World Trade Center or the Pentagon trackd for the plaen"; a book identifying commercial airliners; photos of people posing inside and outside the World Trade Center; and videos titled "Incredible Air Disasters" and "Incredible Water Disasters." It said another northern Virginia suspect had a CD-ROM with the words "Gainesville" and "flight school" on it.
Authorities did not identify the location of the home or its occupant.
A source familiar with the case said the materials seized from the suspect who had Sept. 11 marked in his calendar appear to have been generated after the terror attacks. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suspect does not appear to have had advance knowledge of the attacks.
The materials were seized on or about Dec. 7, when a search warrant issued in the Eastern District of Virginia authorized a search of a location used by one of the students allegedly involved in the scheme, according to the affidavit filed this week in federal court in Norfolk.
The suspicious materials were detailed in court documents filed as part of the case of an alleged nationwide ring that let foreign students stay in the United States on student visas. By hiring stand-ins to take English-language proficiency exams, the foreigners fraudulently met their university requirements.
Most of the 58 arrested Tuesday were students accused of paying others between $1,000 and $5,000 to take the exam for them. At least one suspect, from the Hampton Roads, Va., area, had recently returned to his native Saudi Arabia, the newspaper reported.
Federal prosecutors in New Jersey said more than 130 individuals are involved, and more arrests are expected. The case is being handled in New Jersey because the test is run by a Princeton firm.
U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie of New Jersey has said the arrests were part of a strategy to capture potential domestic terrorists before they strike, but would not say if the case uncovered any links to terrorism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.