US Arrests Man with Qaeda Ties who Sought Pilot License

Thursday, 8 February, 2018 - 06:15
Washington - Asharq Al-Awsat

US authorities said Tuesday they had arrested a Saudi resident of Oklahoma who had trained with al-Qaeda and sought flying lessons, Agence France Presse reported.

The Department of Justice said the man applied in 2000 to attend the same al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, called al-Farouq, where several of the September 11 hijackers had trained.

He came to the United States in 2011 on a non-immigrant visa, travelling with his wife, who was a student. In 2016, he took pilot lessons at an Oklahoma flight school, the Justice Department said.

AFP said he was only discovered recently after investigators matched 15 fingerprints found on a document recovered by the US military from an al-Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan in 2001 with his fingerprints in official US records.

The document was an application to the al-Farouq camp, and included an emergency contact number in Saudi Arabia that was linked to the suspect's father.

Other than attending the same training camp, officials did not claim any links between the Saudi man and the September 11, 2001 plot.

The suspect was arrested in Weatherford, Oklahoma on Monday and charged with two counts of visa fraud -- for not reporting his links to al-Qaeda -- and one count of lying to the FBI about his past with the extremist group.

He faces up to 10 years in prison on each count, AFP said.

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