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Agents Arrest Five Men in N.Y. Raid

September 14, 2002|From Associated Press

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — Federal agents descended on a working-class neighborhood in this old steel town near Buffalo on Friday, raiding several houses and arresting five men suspected of belonging to a terrorist cell, officials and witnesses said.

U.S. officials in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said five men of Yemeni descent were arrested. A senior government official said the Justice Department plans to charge the men with providing material support and resources to terrorists.

U.S. officials said the discovery of the cell was connected to information that also prompted the Bush administration to raise America's terrorism alert to "code orange"--the second-highest--on the eve of the Sept. 11 anniversary.

A senior government official said one of the men arrested in Lackawanna is linked to Omar Faruq, a senior Al Qaeda suspect captured in Indonesia in June, who has provided his interrogators with specific information suggesting that terrorist cells in Asia were planning attacks on U.S. facilities.

The official did not say how the two were associated.

Lackawanna Mayor John Kuryak said he was told six months ago that the FBI was conducting an investigation here as a national security matter.

"When you first hear about it, you do get that initial shiver. You almost tell yourself: 'Not in your back yard. Not in my community.' But that was for a split second," he said.

"No one can be that naive or take anything for granted these days since 9/11."

Late Friday, police and FBI agents still had one street blocked off in the area where neighbors say at least four houses, a garage and an Arab social club were raided. Agents were seen taking two boxes and a blue cooler from an apartment above an Arab deli.

Lackawanna Police Capt. Ronald Miller confirmed that there were arrests in the city, just south of Buffalo. But he would say only that those arrested were U.S. citizens.

One resident, Albaneh Mosed, said FBI agents burst into his home and arrested his 24-year-old brother, Shafal. He denied that his brother had any links to terrorism. "If he was a terrorist, I'd be the first to know," he said.

Mosed said his brother, who is married and is the father of a 3-year-old, attended community college and recently got a job as a telemarketer.

FBI spokesman Paul Moskal wouldn't disclose or confirm any of the men's identities.

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