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Algerian Arrested at Vermont Border Crossing

December 21, 1999|From Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — An Algerian citizen with a falsified Canadian passport was arrested Monday at the tiny border station in Vermont's northeast corner, the Border Patrol said Monday evening.

Also arrested in Beecher's Falls was a woman of unknown nationality, said Mark Henry, assistant chief of the Border Patrol sector covering Vermont.

Henry said he could not provide identification for either person. He said he expected the man to be charged with presenting false papers at a port of entry and the woman to be charged with attempting to smuggle an illegal immigrant into the country.

The arrests came amid heightened concern about possible terrorist threats to the United States from suspected terrorist groups operating in Canada.

"I don't know why they were here," Henry said. "It could be as simple as she's smuggling him into the United States."

The two were being held pending a federal court appearance in Burlington.

On Friday, a man was arrested while trying to enter Port Angeles, Wash., on a ferry from Victoria, British Columbia. Authorities said Ahmed Ressam had nitroglycerin and other potential bomb-making materials in his car when he was arrested, and that they are investigating what plans he may have had for them.

Henry said he knew of no link between the Washington case and the attempted entry in Vermont.

State's Atty. Vincent Illuzzi, the prosecutor for Essex County, where the attempted entry was made, said he had been told there was no clear link between the Washington state and Vermont arrests.

Meanwhile, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, the president's national security advisor, urged Americans to be vigilant as they plan New Year's activities but also said officials know of no specific threats against targets in the United States.

The State Department said Monday it was boosting security at U.S. diplomatic installations and setting up evacuation teams to deal with any terrorism or other crisis.

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