FBI Issues Worldwide Alert for New Associate of 9/11 Hijackers
WASHINGTON – The FBI issued a worldwide bulletin Tuesday night, seeking the capture of a Saudi man who is a newly identified suspected associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Law enforcement agencies around the globe received the bulletin, which sought the immediate arrest of Saud A.S. al-Rasheed, 21, of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
"Al-Rasheed is suspected to be associated with the September 11, 2001 hijackers," the FBI bulletin said.
Based on information developed over the last few days, the sudden bulletin warned police that al-Rasheed should be considered armed and dangerous.
"On Aug. 15, 2002, material previously recovered during the war on terrorism were found to be related to several of the Sept. 11 hijackers," the FBI said.
The materials included an image of a Saudi Arabian passport belonging to al-Rasheed which had been issued in Riyadh in May 2000. "Al-Rasheed's current whereabouts are unknown," the bulletin said.
Two senior law enforcement officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday night that al-Rasheed's picture was found among pictures of several hijackers in materials obtained overseas some time ago and recently reviewed at the FBI. The materials were included on a computer CD-ROM, the officials said.
The officials said they did not know how long the government possessed the information before making the discovery but said the bulletin was issued out of an abundance of caution.
Several government officials said the FBI doesn't believe al-Rasheed is in the United States at the present time. Law enforcement agencies overseas were advised to contact the local U.S. embassy if they have information regarding his whereabouts.
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that from the information the FBI reviewed last week, "they were able to take this piece of information and it showed clear signals or lines that he was connected to 9/11."
A picture of al-Rasheed was posted on the FBI Web site Tuesday night at http://www.fbi.gov.
The bureau has on occasion issued alerts over the last year, but most have involved new terrorist threats and not suspected associates of the hijackers whose activities have been exhaustively investigated over the last 11 months.
For instance, in February the FBI issued a warning during the start of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City asking law enforcement and the American public to be on the lookout for a Yemeni man and several associates who might be plotting a terrorist attack within days.
The FBI scrambled to put that warning out after information emerged that one or more people were involved. Officials said the intelligence, while deemed credible, was not specific about possible targets.
That alert identified one possible attacker as Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei, a Yemeni citizen born in Saudi Arabia in 1979. It listed about a dozen associates of al-Rabeei, most from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.