NEWARK, N.J. – A man accused of providing fake IDs to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers was arrested Tuesday at New York's Kennedy Airport as he returned from Egypt, authorities said.
Mohamed el-Atriss was detained by U.S. Customs agents. He ignored reporters' questions as he was led into the Passaic County sheriff's office Tuesday evening for processing. Sheriff Jerry Speziale said el-Atriss would be held without bail pending a court appearance Friday.
El-Atriss left for Egypt just hours before Passaic County authorities raided his home and businesses July 31.
According to the FBI, he sold phony IDs to Khalid Almihdhar, who was on the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon, and Abdulaziz Alomari, who was aboard one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center.
Authorities have said they didn't know whether el-Atriss knew of the hijackers' plans.
Federal authorities have not filed any charges against el-Atriss, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Egypt. However, Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Newark, described the suspect as a person "of interest" in an ongoing investigation.
Passaic County officials have charged el-Atriss with conspiracy, and manufacturing and distributing phony documents. Authorities said he sold hundreds of fake drivers licenses, identification cards, auto titles and license plates.
Investigators said they found rolls of plastic laminating sheets and backings used to make driver's licenses for several states at the suspect's Paterson office All Services Plus. Three employees have also been charged with manufacturing and distributing fraudulent documents and conspiracy.
El-Atriss was aware of the charges against him when he returned, authorities said. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.