Sudanese Pilot Indicted for Visa Fraud

The Sudanese man whom some suspected of being an Al Qaeda operative intent on flying an aircraft into the White House or another American landmark was indicted Friday afternoon on nine counts of visa-related fraud in Greensboro, N.C.

Mekki Hamed Mekki Hamed Mekki, a 30-year-old taxicab driver, was nabbed by federal law enforcement officers on Sept. 13. He is a trained pilot who was rumored to be planning some sort of Sept. 11-style assault. He lives in Greensboro.

Friday’s indictment is related only to visa and asylum program statute violations.

In this indictment, Mekki is alleged to have "knowingly made false statements with respect to material facts in connection with a nonimmigrant visa application, knowingly obtained a nonimmigrant visa by means of false statements and knowingly making false statements in his application for asylum.

Other counts include: knowingly and willingly falsified, concealed, and covered up material facts on how he was filing multiple entries for himself, his brother and his wife in the 2002 United States Diversity Immigrant Visa Program Lottery; and knowingly and willfully falsified, concealed and covered material facts in an application for asylum.

He submitted the forms for this year's U.S. diversity immigrant program, which makes 50,000 permanent visas available to people from countries with low rates of immigration, the agents said.

Among Mekki’s possessions, FBI agents found a U.S. visitor's visa that expired in October 2000. They said they also found 20 entry forms for the U.S. diversity immigrant visa program, the form that Mekki said he had submitted with several names, dates of birth and places of birth. Among those was the name of Makki Hamad Makki and birth dates and places of Dec. 14, 1972, and Khartoum, Sudan; April 20, 1972, and Omdurman, Sudan; and Jan. 1, 1972, and Bahary, Sudan.

U.S. Magistrate Russell Eliason last month ordered Mekki held because there was a risk he would flee. When the case is over, Mekki will face deportation to Sudan.

Soon after Mekki’s arrest, two government officials said federal authorities believe the 30-year-old Mekki is linked to Usama bin Laden's terrorist group. They also said authorities were investigating the possibility that he may have been plotting to fly a plane into a U.S. target.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.