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U.S. Knew of Terror Cell Before 9/11
Probe of Men Began After Return From Afghanistan in 2001

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_____America at War News_____
U.S. Boosts Its Ability To Plan War (The Washington Post, Oct 12, 2002)
Bush Bids to End Impasse at U.N., Outlines Iraq Plan (The Washington Post, Oct 12, 2002)
Iraq Places New Demands on Inspections (The Washington Post, Oct 12, 2002)
Full Coverage
_____Q & A_____
The Question of the Day on terrorism is answered by the Council on Foreign Relations.
_____Primers on the News_____
Iraq and the War on Terrorism
Iran and the War on Terrorism
The Philippines and the War on Terrorism
The Conflict in Kashmir
Understanding Pakistan
_____Post Series_____
Ambush at Takur Ghar: A Chronology Ambush at Takur Ghar Seven U.S. servicemen died on an Afghan ridge in an battle that revealed flaws in the U.S. military operations.
Part 1: Bravery and Breakdowns
Part 2: Ordeal at 10,000 Feet
_____News From Afghanistan_____
Kabul Zoo Struggles Despite Pledges (The Washington Post, Oct 13, 2002)
Al Qaeda Cell in Kuwait Planned More Attacks (The Washington Post, Oct 12, 2002)
Portland Terrorism Suspect Released (The Washington Post, Oct 11, 2002)
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By Ben Dobbin
Associated Press
Monday, September 16, 2002; Page A08

BUFFALO, Sept. 15 -- An alleged terrorist cell based in western New York and trained by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network was on the U.S. government's radar before the Sept. 11 attacks, a prosecutor said today.

The investigation into the Lackawanna cell began early in the summer of 2001, about the time that the men returned from Afghanistan, said Michael Battle, U.S. attorney for western New York. All five were born in the United States and of Yemeni descent.

"What essentially happened is that information came to our attention that pointed us in the direction of these individuals," Battle said.

He declined to comment on specifics, but he said law enforcement officials took investigative steps to corroborate the information.

"It was based upon that corroboration that we began to look a little deeper," Battle said.

He said the communications and other activities surrounding the cell intensified this month.

Federal authorities who announced the arrest of the members of the alleged terror cell said bin Laden had lectured the men on his anti-American beliefs while they were in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the months before Sept. 11.

The men came home to Lackawanna, five miles south of Buffalo on Lake Erie, in June 2001. Federal agents said there was no indication that the cell was planning an attack in the United States.

Relatives of the men have denied they were involved with al Qaeda.

Officials said the discovery of the terrorist cell was related to information that prompted the Bush administration to raise America's terror alert to "code orange" -- the second-highest -- on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Peter Ahearn said Saturday that the investigation was continuing but that authorities believe the key figures in western New York have been caught.

The men were charged Saturday with providing material support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations.

According to the criminal complaint, the five men -- Shafal Mosed, 24; Faysal Galab, 26; Sahim Alwan, 29; Yasein Taher, 24; and Yahya Goba, 25 -- live within a few blocks of one another in Lackawanna and trained together at a camp in Afghanistan.

"At this point in time, we're not sure they have, in fact, committed a crime, regardless of any conduct they might have been engaged in," James Harrington, a court-appointed lawyer for Alwan, told CNN.

Ahearn characterized the group as a cell trained by al Qaeda. "They worked together, they socialized together, they lived within blocks of each other," Ahearn said.

2002 The Washington Post Company

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