The U.S. Dept. of Justice said yesterday that at least 10 men have been arrested in three states in connection with alleged efforts to fraudulently obtain CDLs for the purpose of hazmat hauling. The arrests made in the Seattle, Detroit and Kansas City areas have not been tied to any terrorist plot, the department said.
Tuesday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said "several individuals" who may have links to the hijackers implicated in the terrorist attacks had sought or held licenses to transport hazardous materials.
The 10 men arrested were among 20 people charged in Pittsburgh since the September 11 terrorist attacks for seeking the fraudulent documents. At least four of the men do not speak English. All of the licenses were issued in Pittsburgh between July 1999 and January 2000.
The FBI, DOT and EPA last week assured the trucking industry that adequate protective countermeasures are in place to ensure against unauthorized use and/or possession of dangerous materials that can be used for weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The men are charged with conspiracy to possess and obtain false and fraudulent identification documents, specifically commercial driver's licenses with a "hazardous materials endorsement."
The individual arrested in the Kansas City area was identified as Wather al-Atabi, according to a criminal complaint issued in Pittsburgh. Five men, identified as Hussain al-Obaidi, Akeel al-Aboudy, Hatef al-Atabi, Sabah al-Hachami, Samir Almazaal, were taken into custody in Detroit.
The four men arrested in Seattle, Ali al-Azawi, Hussain Sudani, Haider al-Tamimi and Mustafa al-Aboody, were identified as Iraqis, and federal officials said there is no evidence they are linked to the attacks. The justice department said none of the four in Seattle speak English.
According to court documents, the Pennsylvania DOT launched an investigation in March 2000 into possible criminal activity involving a driver's license examiner in Pittsburgh. The investigation found that at least 20 individuals who held non-commercial licenses obtained the licenses fraudulently, including 18 who received authority to transport hazardous materials.