BUFFALO, N.Y. – The five suspected terrorists arrested in Buffalo were all born in the U.S., and trained in Al Qaeda camps to use deadly weapons and suicide tactics to kill fellow countrymen, federal officials said.
Usama bin Laden personally lectured the men on his anti-American beliefs while they were in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the months leading up to Sept. 11, according to federal authorities who announced the arrest of the members of the alleged terror cell.
"They worked together, they socialized together, they lived within blocks of each other," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Peter Ahearn. "It's a trained group of individuals that were trained in Afghanistan. It's an Al Qaeda-trained cell."
In June 2001 the men returned to Lackawanna, 5 miles south of Buffalo on the shore of Lake Erie. Federal agents said they had no information the cell was planning an attack in the United States.
"We have the key players in western New York," Ahearn said Saturday, adding that the investigation is continuing.
The White House lauded the arrests in New York and the capture in Pakistan of a suspected Sept. 11 operative as a victory in the war against terrorism.
The five New York men -- Shafal Mosed, 24; Faysal Galab, 26; Sahim Alwan, 29; Yasein Taher, 24; and Yahya Goba, 25 -- live within a few blocks of each another in Lackawanna and trained together at a camp in Afghanistan, according to the criminal complaint unsealed by the judge Saturday.
A sixth New York resident was arrested in Bahrain, family members told The New York Times for Monday editions. A federal official told the newspaper more details on the new arrest would be given Monday.
The arrest in Pakistan of Ramzi Binalshibh demonstrated that "we are relentless, we are strong, and we're not going to stop," President Bush said at Camp David, Md. "One by one we're hunting the killers down."
The men, all in their 20s and of Yemeni descent, appeared in a Buffalo courtroom Saturday in handcuffs and shackles and were charged with unlawfully providing material support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations.
The judge entered a "not guilty" plea for each and ordered the men jailed until a detention hearing Wednesday.
Officials said the discovery of the terrorist cell was connected to information that also prompted the Bush administration to raise America's terror alert to "code orange" -- the second-highest -- on the eve of the attacks one-year anniversary.
The investigation into the Lackawanna cell began in early summer 2001, about the time records say the men returned from Afghanistan, and the communications and other activities surrounding the cell intensified this month, said Michael Battle, U.S. attorney for western New York.
"It seemed from all indications that the activity of these five individuals began to move in a number of different directions," Battle said Sunday. "The evidence pointed us, more importantly, to a particular time, which was this past few days, to make the arrest rather than something particular happening."
He wouldn't give specific details but said the arrests were big for law enforcement, particularly when investigations had been tracking similar activity in Detroit and Seattle.
"One of the things that makes this crew somewhat unique is that they're American-born citizens. That tells us a little bit more about what's going on in our country," Battle said.
FBI Special Agent Edward J. Needham wrote in the complaint that unindicted co-conspirators told him Goba, Alwan, Mosed and Taher attended Al Qaeda's al-Farooq terror training camp near Kandahar, where they were trained to use Kalashnikov assault rifle, handguns and long range rifles.
During the training camp, the men were lectured on "Jihad (holy war), prayers and justification for using suicide as a weapon," according to Needham's affidavit.
It was the same camp John Walker Lindh attended, but officials declined to say if Lindh assisted with the investigation. Battle said it appeared the men and Lindh were together at the camp at some point.
U.S. authorities also hope to soon arrest the three co-conspirators, FBI Agent Stan Borgia said Sunday. He said the three, who were not named, are not in the United States and the government was working with "key foreign partners" in their cases.
The five men arrested in Buffalo said little in court Saturday, quietly answering only "yes" or "no" when U.S. Magistrate H. Kenneth Schroeder asked if they could afford lawyers.
William Clauss, a federal public defender assigned to represent Goba, said he had just met his client and couldn't comment.
Four of the five men were arrested Friday night after federal agents raided several houses and a social club in Lackawanna. Galab was arrested Friday morning.
Relatives of the men denied they were involved with Al Qaeda.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.