Israeli Spy Ring–Driver’s License Ring

Continued from IIa


Sources: Texas train suspects not tied to attacks

December 13, 2001 Posted: 5:57 PM EST (2257 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Two men carrying box cutters and $5,600 in cash when authorities arrested them on a train in Texas in mid-September are not connected with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, law enforcement sources said Thursday.

Ayub Ali Khan and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath were caught in a wave of detentions that began in the days after the September 11 hijackings of four U.S. airliners. “We have not found any ties to 9-11, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to do so in the future,” said one source.

The two men took a flight that day from Newark, New Jersey, which was grounded in St. Louis, Missouri, when the Federal Aviation Administration imposed a nationwide “ground-stop.” Traveling together, the two then boarded a train for San Antonio, Texas.

Police arrested them in Texas during what was called a routine drug sweep of the train.

Authorities say the men were carrying box cutters similar to ones used by the hijackers, $5,600 in cash and hair dye. During a strip search, investigators discovered both men had shaved all their body hair — just as the hijackers had been instructed to do in a so-called “mission manual” left behind by the 19 suspected hijackers.

Khan’s lawyer, Lawrence Feitell, told CNN there is “no case for terrorism or suspected terrorism” against his client.

The hair dye was actually the anti-graying product, “Just for Men,” Feitell said. The box-cutters, he added, were “tools of the trade.”

Khan and Azmath worked at a newspaper stand at a New Jersey train station and lost their jobs when the newsstand was sold. They told officials they were heading to Texas, where they said they have friends, to find work.

The men, both from India, have told authorities they had nothing to do with the hijackings.

Despite law enforcement sources’ admission that the men have not been linked to the September 11 attacks, both remain in custody on immigration charges.

Khan now faces additional charges, which sources said include credit card fraud.

— CNN Correspondents Susan Candiotti and Deborah Feyerick contributed to this report.

Can’t find the original link from Mobile Register

(“The below described incident happened about 20 miles straight down I-10 from where the USS Cole is being repaired. Connection? Don’t know.)

FBI denies reported arrests

Mobile Register (Alabama)
Staff Report

FBI agents gathered at a Daphne (East side of Mobile Bay)service station Friday morning but did not arrest or see anyone who appeared to be of Arabic descent, a bureau spokesman said Sunday afternoon.

Charles Middleton, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Mobile office, made the statement in response to an article in Sunday’s Register that quoted a clerk at the station as saying FBI agents and police had taken four men into custody.

Middleton said, “Our violent crime task force was out in Daphne Friday morning looking for a fugitive. The team arrived at the Shell station at about 5 a.m. as a staging area.

“Someone came out of the Shell station and told us their were four Arabic males in the station an hour before. We didn’t fully explain to the person why we were there.”

According to Middleton, the agents left their cars at the station on U.S. 98. He said they were looking for two men, one in Daphne and one in Bay Minette, but did not find either. He said the team continued its search for the men Sunday.

Middleton said the story about the four men being taken into custody was “amazing,” especially since the man at the service station “came out and told us they were there an hour before we were.”

The Sunday article quoted John Mornan, a cashier at the Shell station in Daphne, as saying that four men who appeared to be of Arabic descent came to the station about 5:20 a.m. Friday. One man remained outside to pump gasoline into the white van the men were traveling in and the others came inside.

He said one of the men, who bought caffeinated soft drinks and ice, told him they had been driving for days from California and were tired. He said the men did not appear tired and the van had a Florida license plate.

Mornan said the men appeared to be nervous and would not make eye contact.

After a few minutes, the man who had been pumping gasoline came to the door and spoke to the others in a language that was not English, Mornan said.

The men quickly went outside where FBI agents and police surrounded them. They were searched, handcuffed and put into two cars and driven away, said Mornan.

He said two FBI agents got into the van the men had been using and drove it away.

Mornan said several FBI agents remained behind and one told him that they had been following the men from Tampa since Thursday night.

He said the agent told him the men were expected to rendezvous with three other men but had not done so and the agents were concerned that, with dawn approaching, the men would realize they were being followed.

Mornan said he did not ask whether the men were under arrest or were just being detained for questioning.

He said he did not ask for the names of the FBI agents.

“They were wearing vests with ‘FBI’ written across them,” Mornan said.

Contacted Sunday by the Register and told of Middleton’s statement, Mornan, a 65-year-old retired aerospace engineer,(This does not sound like a kook type to me) said that the FBI must have been working on something that it did not want to reveal and that he did not want to argue with the FBI or do anything to harm national security.

“Why would I want to make up something like that,” he said. “If I’d been looking for press (coverage), it would have been different. I didn’t call you, you called me.”

Chicago Tribune

FBI probes 5th flight for hijackers

September 18, 2001,by Stephen J. Hedges and Naftali Bendavid

WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating the possibility that suicide hijackers were on board a fifth transcontinental airline flight last Tuesday, one that was cancelled just minutes before its scheduled 8:10 a.m. departure from Boston due to a mechanical problem, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Federal agents are searching for an undetermined number of passengers who were on board American Airlines Flight 43, according to one source familiar with the passenger manifest. The flight was to have departed Boston 25 minutes after American Flight 11, which struck New York’s World Trade Center, this source said.

In addition, one of the sources said that the FBI was “very interested” in passengers whose names appeared on the manifests of “several” other American flights that were in the air when the first attacks occurred. Those planes landed prematurely when air traffic controllers, responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, ordered all flights in the U.S. to touch down as soon as possible.

None of the passengers in whom the FBI has expressed interest reappeared to continue their journeys after commercial flights resumed late last week, one of the sources said.

On Thursday, the FBI sent a list of several dozen Arabic-sounding names to state and local police with the request that those on the list be located for questioning. At least some of the passengers being sought are believed to be among those listed, according to one of the sources. An American Airlines spokesman said he was not immediately able to confirm the sources’ accounts.

About 35 minutes after Flight 43 was due to depart, American Flight 11, which was bound for Los Angeles, struck the Trade Center’s north tower. A hijacked United flight from Boston hit the center’s south tower about 20 minutes later. A third American flight that left Washington’s Dulles International Airport struck the Pentagon at 9:39 a.m. A fourth plane, United Flight 93, crashed in a field southeast of Pittsburgh at 10:10 a.m.

Urgent request for help

Federal authorities were holding 49 individuals in connection with last week’s terrorist attacks, nearly twice as many as two days ago, and the FBI sent out an urgent request Monday for Arabic and Farsi speakers to help with its investigation of the hijackings.

French government officials confirmed Monday that one of the people being held by the FBI for questioning in connection with last week’s attack is considered a dangerous, well-known militant associate of Osama bin Laden.

Habib Zacarias Moussaoui, a dual French-Algerian national, was detained last month after instructors at a flight school he attended in Minnesota grew suspicious that Moussaoui, an inexperienced pilot, wanted to learn only how to steer and turn passenger jets, not take off or land.

Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the hijackings were intended by their perpetrators to be the first in a multiday series of attacks. That suggests that other would-be perpetrators remain at large, and the FBI continued its massive effort Monday to track them down.

The FBI has 4,000 agents and 3,000 support personnel working on the case, making it the largest FBI investigation ever, but Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft assigned 300 deputy U.S. marshals to help. The investigation has reached a fever pitch, with 500 people from 32 agencies working at the FBI’s special investigation center around the clock in 12-hour shifts.

Authorities have taken databases from various government agencies, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service and Customs Service, into the FBI center in New York to speed up their work.

But FBI officials acknowledged that the bureau is being hampered by a severe shortage of investigators fluent in Arabic or Farsi, which is spoken in Iran. “This has been a perpetual problem for everybody,” said FBI spokesman John Collingwood.

Although no one has yet been charged in last week’s attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller said some of those being detained are helping the investigation. “There are individuals cooperating,” Mueller said. “There are a number of individuals that are not cooperating.”

While the FBI is seeking anyone who aided the hijackers, agents are even more urgently hunting for anyone who might still be planning other attacks. Graham suggested the nation may have been fortunate to avoid further tragedies last week.

“There has been credible evidence gathered since Tuesday that Tuesday’s attacks were not designed to be a one-day event,” Graham told the Orlando Sentinel. “There were other acts of terrorism in the United States and elsewhere that were part of this plan.”

That does not mean the seizure of more airplanes, Graham added. “Not necessarily hijacking another airliner, but maybe putting a chemical in a city’s water system, or blowing up a bridge in a major urban center,” he said.

Barry Mawn, assistant FBI director in charge of the New York office, said there is “no specific proof” that there were more terrorist teams in place. But “all of us are looking at that as the potential,” he said, and finding any such teams is the investigation’s highest priority.

Pressing for clues

The investigation moved forward Monday on various fronts. Evidence recovery teams have found a passport for one of the hijackers amid the rubble at the World Trade Center, which investigators consider a major find.

Several people were being held Monday as material witnesses in the attack, meaning they may have important information. Among them is one of the two men who were seized from an Amtrak train in Texas, Aybub Ali Khan and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, though it is unclear which one. Khan and Azmath took a flight Tuesday from Newark, N.J., to St. Louis, and then boarded a train for San Antonio, Texas.

The pair lived in an apartment in Jersey City, N.J., that is just steps away from the Masjid As-Salaam Mosque, one of two New York-area mosques affiliated with radical Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who is in prison.

Mawn said he expects more arrests of material witnesses in coming days. “Material witness warrants are a key grand jury tool,” Mawn said. “I think that will continue.”

Khan and Azmath rented the apartment for the last six years. Their landlord said in an interview Monday that FBI agents have asked him to secure all records and correspondence related to the two tenants. The landlord, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said the men did not list any references or previous addresses on their application, which he was expected to turn over to the FBI Monday night.

The landlord said they were initially referred by another tenant in the building who at the time described them as “very good guys,” the landlord recalled, adding, “That was good enough for me.” He said he also has been asked by the FBI to turn over every canceled check received from the men, which the landlord said he has saved. He said the pair paid rent even for this month.

FBI agents in Chicago spent a significant part of Monday trying to determine whether Khan ever lived in the city. A commercial database indicated Khan listed an address in Rogers Park as recently as last June. Shown photos of the two men by the Tribune, tenants could not say with certainty that they had seen either of them.

A man traveling on one of the U.S. flights that was diverted into Canada last Tuesday was detained in the Toronto airport by immigration officials. The man, whom authorities would not identify, was turned over to the FBI for questioning, according to Greg Peters, a spokesman for Canada’s national police force.

“He had in his possession material of interest, given the situation that occurred in the U.S.,” Peters said in an interview. “Specifically, photos.” He declined to elaborate.

Across the U.S. border in Mexico, authorities detained and questioned a man with a Brazilian passport who said he had family ties to Jordan. Imad Mohammed Jaber, 26, was detained for immigration violations in Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. Mexican officials said he had traveled recently to Germany and said he wanted to travel to the United States. A U.S. immigration official also questioned him.

New details

As the investigation entered its second week, more details of the lives of the suicide hijackers have begun to emerge. One of the most intriguing is Mohamed Atta, a hijacker on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center. Atta, a self-described urban planner, was known to U.S. authorities long before the hijacking for possible ties to terrorist groups, and had spent time in Germany and Egypt. He may have played a leadership role among the hijackers, based on the records of his travels and his interaction with several of them.

New, albeit sparse, details about Atta’s life in the Egyptian Delta emerged Monday. Ralph Bodenstein, a German researcher who does urban studies work in the Arab world, said he spent many hours with Atta in 1995, when Atta was part of a three-man team from a Hamburg university studying ways to ease Cairo’s traffic woes.

Atta’s father was a professional living in Cairo, Bodenstein said, and during this period Atta lived with his middle-class family in that city. Atta’s anti-American views were pronounced, he added, though such opinions are not uncommon in the Arab world.

“He didn’t give a positive judgment on U.S. politics,” Bodenstein said. “But there was nothing to indicate he would go to the lengths of such terror.”

The issue of the hijackers’ nationalities is explosive, and Egyptian officials continued to insist Atta was born in the United Arab Emirates. Although he lived in the Egyptian delta at one point, investigators said there was no trace of any family there.

Still, Egyptian security forces have sealed off the region, about an hour from Cairo, as they look for information.

One key unanswered question remains how the hijackers communicated with each other or with anyone who may have been giving them orders. There was some suggestion that they used computers and the Internet.

Computer proficiency

Clearly some of the hijackers were proficient on the Internet. Atta had his own Web site when he lived in Hamburg, Germany, describing his interest in architecture and other matters, according to German authorities.

FBI officials say they have seized numerous computers in connection with the investigation. For example, agents came into the apartment of Omar Hady, an Arkansas resident authorities questioned regarding the attacks, and confiscated the computer he used to send e-mails.

In other cases, the hijackers may have used the computers available in public libraries, which would have made their e-mail traffic harder to trace. After reports emerged that the FBI was investigating whether the hijackers used the library in Fairfax County, Va., in this way, a librarian and a motel operator in Florida both told authorities over the weekend they may have had similar experiences.

At Delray Beach’s small public library, research librarian Katherine Hensman said she saw two men, whom she said matched descriptions of the hijackers who stayed at the nearby Homing Inn, using the library’s Internet access one afternoon within the past six weeks.

The men used one of the 12 computers for about an hour, then left when a third man arrived and greeted them, she said, adding that she took note of the pair because they “kept staring over at me” while using a machine on the far side of the room.

Hensman did say she could not be sure whether the men were among those pictured in newspapers over the past few days as hijackers. Delray Beach police interviewed Hensman on Saturday, but so far, FBI agents have not visited.

Farther south, in Hollywood, Longshore Motel operator Paul Dragomir said Monday that two of his customers on Aug. 30 left after a dispute over the motel’s Internet access. He, too, said he was uncertain whether the pair had any connection to the Sept. 11 events, except for general physical descriptions.

After the men got into the room, they asked for Internet lines to their room. Dragomir initially agreed to bring an office phone line into the room, where he saw two laptop computers and several CDs. The pair got in an argument when it became clear the guests wanted to use the phone line all night.

The men grew angry, Dragomir said. They told him, “We’re on a mission.”

Source lost: from MemphisGo

Jun 21, 2002

Attorney slain in 100 North Main parking garage

An attorney was shot to death just before 9 a.m. today as he was getting out of his car on the fourth floor of the parking garage of the 100 North Main Building.

Early reports said he was shot four times by a well dressed man sporting braids.

The shooter then fled on foot and got onto a Memphis Area Transit Authority bus.

From The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Dead link


Lawrence Buser, May 21, 2002

After four men with ties to the Middle East pleaded guilty Monday in a Tennessee driver’s license fraud case, new questions arose about a central figure in the case – a state driver’s license examiner who died in a mysterious, fiery car wreck just days after her arrest.

The case drew national attention earlier this year because of the still-unsolved death of Katherine Smith and the revelation one of the defendants, a naturalized plumber from Jordan living in New York, had been in the World Trade Center days before the twin towers were destroyed by hijacked airliners.

In a hearing Monday morning before U.S. Dist. Judge Bernice Donald, federal prosecutors said, however, had the cases gone to trial, there would have been no evidence presented that the defendants were involved in terrorist activities or in Smith’s Feb. 10 death on U.S. 72 in Fayette County. Federal and state authorities said Monday that the wreck remains under investigation but the fire in the car was set and the crash did not cause Smith’s death.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Capt. Jimmy Erwin said Monday that he is waiting on autopsy test results from the Medical Examiner’s Office before the cause of death is officially determined.

He said neither suicide nor homicide has been ruled out.

Smith, a state employee for 27 years, had been charged with conspiring to provide driver’s licenses fraudulently as part of a scheme involving the other defendants.

A handwritten letter by Smith dated Feb. 5 – the day of her arrest – was included in pretrial discovery material the government provided to defense attorneys.

After the hearing, defense attorney Jeffrey Jones showed the letter to several reporters.

Asked if the letter appeared to be a suicide note, Jones said, “That’s certainly one interpretation.”

Written on green flowered stationery headed “Gardening Angel,” the note read: “I Katherine Smith tried to help Kal. He didn’t give me any money. He was I thought my friend. I was trying to help him. Now I’ve lost everything and am called a liar when I was telling the truth. I can’t live without any honor. I live a lonely life true enough but I didn’t lie to the FBI. Forgive me John. Forgive me Vernola. I can’t live this way. I love you both and wish and pray for the best. Love Mama.”

The names in the letter, apparently discovered during the FBI’s investigation, refer to alleged conspiracy ringleader Khaled Odtllah, who is known as “Kal,” and Smith’s son and daughter, John Barton IV and Vernola Buchanan.

Pleading guilty to the one-count conspiracy indictment Monday were Odtllah, 31, a Cordova resident from Jerusalem; Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin, 26, a carpenter from Egypt; Sakher A. Hammad, 24, a New York plumber from Jordan and the lone defendant who is an American citizen, and his cousin Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad, 32, also a plumber living in New York.

A fifth defendant, Mohammed A. Fares, pleaded guilty earlier this month. Fares has a Venezuelan passport, but his family is from Lebanon.

Each faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and a minimum of immediate probation when sentenced in June and August by Donald. Those who are not citizens also face the possibility of deportation and remain in federal custody.

A minor teenager arrested in the case was handled in Juvenile Court.

Federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza said Odtllah, who had been living here for two years, provided Tennessee driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants for about $1,000 each.

The Hammads of New York found clients and drove them to Memphis where Smith would issue them driver’s licenses without requiring proper documentation, he said.

He said Tennessee was vulnerable to such a scheme because the state does not require immigrants to provide a Social Security number.

The Hammads in February drove Fares and Abou-Shahin and the juvenile to Memphis from New York to get four licenses. They met with Odtllah here and were arrested as they attempted to obtain licenses at the Summer Avenue testing station.

FBI agents and the highway patrol had set up surveillance after receiving a tip from the New York FBI office.

During their separate guilty pleas Monday, at least two of the defendants asked their attorneys to emphasize that they are not being accused of terrorist activity. DiScenza then made a statement to that effect.

Jones, who represents Sakher Hammad, said the World Trade Center visitor’s pass found in his client’s wallet was needed because he had worked on the center’s sprinkler system plumbing.

He said Hammad also had a card that indicated he had donated money to the victims of the Sept. 11 attack.

“My guy’s a fairly conservative guy,” Jones said.

The guilty pleas were straightforward and routine for the most part as Donald asked each man, some requiring Arabic interpreters, if he was pleading voluntarily and understood the implications.

She also asked each defendant why he was pleading guilty, drawing tearful responses from Odtllah who said, “I made mistake. I didn’t know I was breaking the law. I didn’t mean to break the law.”

Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad also wept when asked about his residency in New York, where he had been living with his wife and three U.S.-born children.

“I’m just concerned about my wife,” he said through an interpreter.

Original link not found

6/21/02 10:19 a.m

News Channel 3, Memphis TN

Memphis, TN – News Channel 3 has learned that the man shot and killed in a North Main street parking deck this morning was Memphis attorney Robert M. Friedman. Friedman is a senior partner of the Law Offices of Friedman, Sissman, and Heaton, P.C. and was apparently on his way to work when he was shot and killed on the 4th floor of the parking deck at 100 North Main.

Police say Friedman had just gotten out of his car, when a man walked up and shot him. Police are looking for the suspect in the shooting. He’s described as a black man, with braids, wearing a black pin stripe suit, and was last seen running west on Jefferson before getting on a Mata bus.

Original link not found

The attorney is being identified as Robert Friedman by Memphis television stations.

SHOW: Fox 13 News At
February 19, 2002, Tuesday PM
MEDIUM: Television
TYPE: Television

START: 00.08.20

Teased Segment – Fair Trial. Attorney of one of the Middle Eastern men accused of driver’s license scam worried about fair trial after September 11th.
Visual – Suspects.
Interview – Robert Friedman (Attorney).
END: 00.09.45

dead link

Then the agents searched a fifth man, Sakhera Hammad of New York, whom the men identified as their second contact, and found an alarming piece of paper. Mr. Hammad had a worker’s pass to the World Trade Center dated Sept. 5. Suddenly, the case became a possible terrorist plot.

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mr. Hammad’s father, Peter Hansen, said his son was a plumber, and he provided a letter he said he had obtained from his son’s employer attesting to his work at the trade center. In the letter, dated Feb. 13, Sergei Denko, president of Denko Mechanical, said Mr. Hammad had been working for his company in the basement garage area of 1 World Trade Center.

“He was there for a couple of days,” Mr. Denko said in an interview. ____________________________________________________

We could ask Mr. Denko who wrote the work order but he will be hard to find. He filed incorporation papers under the alias Sergei Denko, but if you visit the address filed with the State of New York for Denko Mechanical you will find his name is Sergei Davidenko. Additionally, the address given for Denko Mechanical is a residential apartment in an apartment building. Unusual for a plumbing company.

Current Entity Name: DENKO MECHANICAL, INC.
Initial DOS Filing Date: 02/08/2000
County: NEW YORK
Current Entity Status: ACTIVE

DOS Process (Address to which DOS will mail process if accepted on behalf of the entity)

232 E 26TH ST
STE 21

Chairman or Chief Executive Officer
232 E 26TH ST
STE 21

Registered Agent

Original link lost

Memphis Commercial Appeal / GoMemphis

Fraudulent-license seekers sentenced to time served (Tennessee)

June 28, 2002 | Bill Dries

Four members of a fraudulent driver’s license ring were sentenced Thursday to the nearly five months they’ve spent in prison awaiting trial on the federal conspiracy charge.

Khaled Odtllah, head of the scheme to get the New York City men Tennessee driver’s licenses with a phony Cordova address, was released hours after being sentenced by U.S. Dist. Judge Bernice Donald.

But his three co-defendants – Mohammed Fares, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad and Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin – remained in custody to face deportation, a process that could take a year.

They were in the country illegally at the time of their arrest in February.

Odtllah, who lived in Cordova before his arrest, has permanent resident status.

“Under the circumstances I think this was the best possible outcome,” Odtllah’s attorney Anthony Helm said of the time-served sentence.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the maximum sentence for each of the four would have been six months in prison because none had felony convictions.

The four defendants and fifth suspect, Sakher Hammad of Jordan, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses. Sakher Hammad, who is free on bond, will be sentenced in August.

The case drew national attention when Katherine Smith, the Memphis driver’s license examiner accused of being Odtllah’s inside source for the licenses, died in a fiery car crash the day before her first court appearance.

Adding another twist, Sakher Hammad had a visitor’s pass to the World Trade Center dated just days before the terrorist attack.

The guilty pleas and conspiracy charge made no mention of Smith’s death or terrorist acts that prosecutors highlighted in the early stages of the case.

Asst. U.S. Atty. Tim DiScenza declined comment after the hearings on Smith’s death and the continuing investigation into her death. Federal investigators have said the fire that burned Smith alive in her car was deliberately set and that traces of gasoline were found.

After the guilty pleas, a defense attorney released a letter purportedly written by Smith the day of her arrest and five days before her death in which she wrote she had “lost everything” and “can’t live without any honor.”

Wow! there is a “Peter Hansen”, who heads the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, no doubt winking to some terrorism to is given by him. Many stories about him I found.

But, at least according to a May 20, 2002 Memphis Commercial Appeal article, Peter is an “engineer.”

“…DiScenza dropped government objections to a release on bond after Hammad’s father, Peter Hansen, put up his Staten Island home as security for a $250,000 bond.
Hansen, a senior engineer for the City of New York, testified at the March hearing that his son was “born again” when he came legally to the U.S. from Jordan. …

from the USFE and Firehouse.Com site: after > petitioning Congress, accusing NY of concealing evidence by the quick > recycling of critical steel beams, the civil engineers of the Nat’l > Institute now have access to over 60 steel beams they found in salvage > yards which had not been melted down and recycled. On 4/16, they were > particularly happy to report finding an intact beam that, according to > the numbers stamped on it, went from floor 101 to 103. Report > pending.

First day in court, Rocky says he and his cousin were repairing the > sprinkler system. The business card he had with him was “Magic Heating > and Air — call Rocky at xxxxxx”. The card advertised residential > counter-top installation and repair, residential plumbing and air > conditioner service. Investigative journalist calls to the number > listed got a voice message: “Rocky’s voice mail is full”. Traces to > the address listed on the card showed this to be the residence of > Sakher Hammad and several others with Arabic names.

And what would you expect? Hammad hadn’t been home in quite a while, he apparently did have a business, and apparently he did work for other people. Check the address with the NYC tax assessor’s office. I’ll bet it’s an apartment house. The others had different phone numbers, didn’t they?

Second time in court, 3/28/02, reported in only two Memphis news > articles I could find, he is released on bail with no objection from > the DA. His father, Peter Hansen, reportedly an engineer for the City > of New York who immigrated from Jordan 15 years ago, who now lives on > Staten Island, brought a letter from Rocky’s “boss”, a Sergei Denko of > Denko Mechanical Ltd. (not Magic Plumbing). In phone calls to the > number listed, not published in the news articles, Mr. Sergei Denko > verified that Rocky and his cousin (also arrested in the Memphis scam) > were working in the WTC garage and lower level basement “for a couple > of days” in early September — no further explanation (in the news > articles). The Port Authority has no record, and claims he must have > been hired by a tenant in the building (??? — for the sprinkler > system??). One earlier article reported that Rocky was close to his > mother, no name given, who is still a resident of Gaza/Jordan.

Mr. Hansen admitted > in court he did not see his son often — Mr. Hansen lives on Staten > Island and Rocky lives in Brooklyn at an address I found registered to > 14 others with Arabic names;

You have heard of apartment buildings, haven’t you. Did the other people have the same phone number? Again, check with the NYC tax assessors office. Bets are it’s an apartment house.

Rocky also was listed at a residence in > Memphis. His car and another, with NY tags, had driven down from New > York to Memphis the day of their arrest (in February) and were in the > process of obtaining four fake drivers licenses for Arabic aliens at > the time of arrest. Per my amateur trace, his father couldn’t have > lived at the Staten Island residence for more than a year because the > address was registered to someone else in 2001 who was, until 2001, > active in the Staten Island community. Mr. Hansen testified he made > Rocky’s $250,000 bail by second mortgaging his home.

Hansen owns a $305,000 house (tax evaluation) and Mid-Island Equities holds the mortgage.

And I keep remembering how OSB said he didn’t know himself the date of > the attack until the previous Thursday — Sept 6. > > As for the rest of your questions:

(2) My sources are basic internet search: the CBS documentary > transcripts and transcripts from the Naudet video, and articles cited > in the NY Times, NY Daily News (January 4, 2002), and USFE magazine, > most of which feature quotations by Bill Manning of the USFE (a name > to use if you’re using a search engine). The articles I’ve read note > Chief Pfeiffer’s team as having explosive experts, which is why they > had been sent to a (false alarm) possible gasoline leak (minutes > before the first plane hit). I recall more than one article stating > they were among the first to arrive and I presumed that was a > universally accepted fact. Is it not? I believe you said “the first to arrive”, not one of the first. > (3) In all fairness, in checking further (I have a box full of printed > articles), witnesses in the lobby DID report seeing a fireball come > from the freight elevator shaft, and that was the source of the two > “burning bodies” encountered by Naudet when he entered the lobby — he > decided not to film anything so gruesome. The lobby, then, is clearly > not as strong a pro-bomb argument as I had first believed, and I think > a couple of conspiratorial sites exaggerated the initial reports of > the firemen saying, “it looked like a bomb exploded in the lobby”.

1st of 4 trials in driver’s license procurement case starts today

The first of four trials of men charged in a Tennessee driver’s license fraud case that has drawn national attention begins today in federal court, three months after the mysterious death of a key defendant in a fiery car crash.

Each of the four men, three from New York City, one from Cordova and all with ties to the Middle East, is charged with one count of conspiracy to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses.

Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin, Khaled Odtllah, Sakher A. Hammad and his cousin, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad, will be tried separately over the next two weeks before U.S. Dist. Court Judge Bernice Donald.

The trial of Abou-Shahin begins today. His attorney, Clifton Harviel, will ask Donald to waive a jury trial and decide his guilt or innocence on her own.

“We just thought in the current world situation, shall we say, that a professional jurist might give us a better shake than a local jury,” Harviel said.

Federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza has agreed to the waiver. If the waiver is granted, Harviel estimated the trial would take a day.

A fifth defendant, Mohammed A. Fares, pleaded guilty earlier this month and is expected to testify for the government at some or all of the trials.

Also charged was driver’s license examiner Katherine Smith. But Smith died under suspicious circumstances Feb. 10, the day before a preliminary court appearance.

The 49-year-old Memphis woman was alone early that Sunday morning, driving a 1992 Acura Legend registered to Odtllah.

The car veered off U.S. 72 in Fayette County and hit a utility pole. Witnesses said intense flames prevented them from reaching the unresponsive driver.

After almost a month-long investigation, the Tennessee Highway Patrol determined that Smith’s death was caused not by the wreck, but by “other means.”

No one has been charged in her death.

Four of the fraud case defendants have been held without bond since their arrests on Feb. 5. Smith was released on her own recognizance the next day.

DiScenza cited the “most unusual and suspicious” nature of Smith’s death, as well as “connections” to the World Trade Center, as reasons to deny bond.

When Sakher A. Hammad was arrested, he had in his possession a visitor’s identification card that gave him access to the building just a few days before the terrorist attacks.

Hammad, a plumber, told federal authorities he was working on the sprinklers, according to court testimony.

DiScenza dropped government objections to a release on bond after Hammad’s father, Peter Hansen, put up his Staten Island home as security for a $250,000 bond.

Hansen, a senior engineer for the City of New York, testified at the March hearing that his son was “born again” when he came legally to the U.S. from Jordan.

“America is our country,” Hansen said as his son wept. “We are a very dedicated family. We love work . . . We would never think to do harm to anyone.”

But DiScenza urged the judge not to grant bond to the others.

When Donald upheld detention without bond for the other four, she called them flight risks because of their immigration status or substantial connections through family to other countries, where they might flee if released.

She noted that Odtllah, the alleged leader of the fraud scheme, has a wife and family in Jerusalem.

But the judge said in her ruling there was no evidence to support “these potentially inflammatory assertions” about connections to Sept. 11.

Here’s how prosecutors allege the scheme worked:

Odtllah, who has been living in Cordova for two years, offered Tennessee driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants for a fee of around $1,000 each. The Hammads, both self-employed plumbers in Brooklyn, acted as middlemen, finding the clients and bringing them to Memphis, where Smith would issue them licenses.

In early February, the Hammads allegedly drove co-defendants Fares and Abou-Shahin and a juvenile to Memphis from New York City to get four driver’s licenses – one in Fares’s name and three in names that prosecutors have said appear to be aliases.

But a confidential informant had tipped a New York FBI agent about the Memphis trip. On Feb. 5, FBI agents and Tennessee Highway Patrol investigators were watching as Odtllah met the group from New York outside the testing station.

Sakher Hammad was also in town to get a second Tennessee driver’s license. He and his cousin already had Tennessee licenses using the same Morning Lake Drive address of the apartment complex where Odtllah lived.

According to the FBI, Odtllah went inside the testing station and came back out with four applications. Odtllah had the others fill in the names and dates of birth; then he filled in the Morning Lake Drive address.

Odtllah then took the completed applications to Smith, who entered them into the state’s computer system, according to the FBI.

The men were not issued driver’s licenses that morning because the camera at the Summer Avenue testing station was broken. Odtllah was the only one of the group who met with Smith.

All six adults were arrested that day. The juvenile was not charged.

That is the case the prosecution is expected to make, based on an FBI affidavit and the testimony of FBI agent J. Suzanne Nash at two hearings. But it doesn’t begin to explain Smith’s death.

Nash testified that the fire that consumed the interior of Smith’s car was set deliberately. Traces of gasoline were found on the victim’s clothing and in the car, she said.

Harviel said last week that the trial of Abou-Shahin, 27, a carpenter from Egypt, will focus exclusively on the conspiracy charge and won’t involve any revelations about Smith’s death or alleged ties to terrorism.

Interestingly, the burned body of a man 40 years old was found earlier this month in Wethersfield, Connecticut, home of the central office of the CT DMV. As of May 3, 2002, this story came out:


Police identify burning body found near Wethersfield (Connecticut) Dumpster

Hurley was a part time employee at Steve’s Price Cutter Liquors. He worked at the state Department of Information Technology.

The body was burned beyond recognition but police suspected it was Hurley, whose car was still in the strip mall’s parking lot.

Separately–from the Connecticut State Department of Motor Vehicles web site:


Manufacturer’s License
Initial Issue a license to a manufacturer or distributor of motor vehicles who sells products in Connecticut. Note: Only done in Wethersfield DMV office.

Renewal – Re-issue a license to a manufacturer or distributor of motor vehicles who sells products in Connecticut. Note: Only done in Wethersfield DMV office.

Duplicate – Make a copy or duplicate of a license to a manufacturer or distributor of motor vehicles who sells products in Connecticut. Note: Only done in Wethersfield DMV office.

Modification – Make a change or modification of a license of a manufacturer or distributor of motor vehicles who sells products in Connecticut. Note: Only done in Wethersfield DMV office.

Arizona Daily SunMedical examiner known for work on puzzling cases attacked


Among his recent cases was the death of Harvard University biologist Don Wiley, whose accidental fall from a Memphis bridge in December fueled fears of terrorist kidnappings. The medical examiner also helped identify the body of Katherine Smith, 49, a state driver’s license examiner who was found burned beyond recognition in February the day before a hearing on federal charges of helping five Middle Eastern men obtain fake driver’s licenses. No one has been charged in her death.

Arizona Daily Sun

Medical examiner known for work on puzzling cases attacked


Associated Press Writer Jun 3, 2002

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Medical examiner O.C. Smith, who has worked on some of the city’s most puzzling deaths, is at the center of another perplexing case: He was attacked over the weekend, bound with barbed wire and left with a bomb tied to his body.

Smith, 49, was attacked as he left work Saturday night and was found 212 hours later lying in a parking lot.

A bomb squad removed the device and Smith escaped without serious injury, returning to the scene with minor cuts and bruises to assist authorities. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, including a profiler, and the FBI were called in.

The motive for the attack remains unknown, but authorities believe Smith’s work in helping police investigate murders and suicides plays a role. As medical examiner, Smith performs autopsies on murder victims from throughout western Tennessee and often testifies in court.

Among his recent cases was the death of Harvard University biologist Don Wiley, whose accidental fall from a Memphis bridge in December fueled fears of terrorist kidnappings. The medical examiner also helped identify the body of Katherine Smith, 49, a state driver’s license examiner who was found burned beyond recognition in February the day before a hearing on federal charges of helping five Middle Eastern men obtain fake driver’s licenses. No one has been charged in her death.

O.C. Smith’s colleagues describe him as a dedicated professional. Deputy Police Chief Bob Wright said Smith takes his work extremely seriously. “You call him at 2 o’clock in the morning and say you’ve got a body and he’s there,” said Wright, a former homicide detective.

Smith, who has declined to talk with reporters since the attack, was left in the parking lot of the Shelby County Regional Forensic Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee medical school. He suffered a burn on his face from a chemical thrown or sprayed in his eyes to subdue him.

Gene Marquez, the ATF agent in charge in Memphis, said the bomb was similar to another “unsophisticated” explosive device found in March in a hallway near Smith’s lab.

Both devices were designed to hurt people, Marquez said.

Police have not publicly made a link between the explosives and a letter threatening Smith that was sent to the district attorney’s office in June 2001.

The anonymous letter was sent while a judge was hearing evidence in the case of convicted murderer Philip Workman, whose attorneys were trying to get his death sentence overturned. The attorneys challenged the validity of Smith’s laboratory tests, which had aided prosecutors.

Smith’s testimony supported Workman’s conviction on charges of murdering a Memphis police officer in 1981. Workman doesn’t deny taking part in a shootout with police but says the fatal bullet was fired by a fellow officer, not him. The courts have stayed the execution and Workman remains on death row.

The typed letter accused Smith of lying and referred to Workman as an innocent “LAMB OF GOD.”

“Long have I waited for my HOLY ORDER to fight against the DOCTOR-KILLER abortionists, but now I know OUR LORD was saving me for something larger,” the letter said.

The letter writer said he was incensed by a claim by one of Workman’s attorneys that Smith had shaded his testimony against Workman. Smith said at the time that he had not received any letters himself but was taking the threats “very seriously.”

Smith was named chief medical examiner in January 1999 after working as an assistant pathologist in Memphis for more than 20 years.

Known as an expert on firearms and ballistics, Smith is a captain in the Naval Reserves Medical Corps and served active duty in Desert Storm. He also is an associate professor of forensic pathology at the medical school where his office located.

He once said in a newspaper interview that he picked Memphis as his place to practice forensic pathology because the medical examiner’s office was associated with a medical school and because the city had a high murder rate.

— Arizona Daily Sun

link is dead

What Really Happened

1.November 12, 2001: The beginning of numerous mysterious deaths of renowned microbiologists. A good place to start learning about this is a Globe and Mail article, which calls these deaths a “tale only the best conspiracy theorist could dream up” yet hard to explain (The Memphis Flyer also provides a good overview, but is much more speculative: ). The first dead microbiologist is Dr. Benito Que, 52, was “an expert in infectious diseases and cellular biology at the Miami Medical School. Police originally suspected that he had been beaten on November 12 in a carjacking in the medical school’s parking lot. Strangely enough, though, his body showed no signs of a beating. Doctors then began to suspect a stroke.”

2.November 16, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Don Wiley, 57, disappears during a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee. He had just bought tickets to take his son to Graceland the following day. Police found his rental car on a bridge outside Memphis. His body was later found in the Mississippi River. Forensic experts said he may have had a dizzy spell and fallen off the bridge. Police will only say, “We began this investigation as a missing person investigation. From there it went to a more criminal bent.” “Wiley is seen as one of the world’s leading researchers of deadly viruses, including HIV and the Ebola virus.” Wiley worked at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University, and was an expert on the immune system’s response to viral attacks. He was widely regarded as the nation’s foremost expert in using special X-ray cameras and mathematical formulas to make high-resolution images of viruses. The FBI is monitoring the I

3.November 21, 2001 (B): Dead microbiologist: World-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, dies of a stroke. Pasechnik, who defected to Britain in 1989, had played a huge role in the development of Russian biowarfare, heading a lab of 400 “with an unlimited budget” and “the best staff available.” He says he succeeded in producing an aerosolized plague microbe that could survive outside the laboratory. He was connected to Britain’s spy agency and recently had started his own company. “In the last few weeks of his life he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the Government, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism.”

4,5,6.November 24, 2001: Three more dead microbiologists: A Swissair flight from Berlin to Zurich crashes during its landing approach; 22 are killed and nine survive. Among those killed are Dr. Yaakov Matzner, 54, dean of the Hebrew University school of medicine; Amiramp Eldor, 59, head of the haematology department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and a world-recognized expert in blood clotting; and Avishai Berkman, 50, director of the Tel Aviv public health department and businessman.

7.December 10, 2001: Dead microbiologist: “Dr. Robert Schwartz, 57, was stabbed and slashed with what police believe was a sword in his farmhouse in Leesberg, Va. His daughter, who identifies herself as a pagan high priestess, and three of her fellow pagans have been charged.” All were part of what they called a coven, and interested in magic, fantasy and self-mutilation. The police have no motive as to why they would have wanted to kill Schwartz, who was a single parent and said to be very close to his children. Schwartz worked at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology on DNA sequencing and pathogenic microorganisms. He was “a brilliant scientist who had a gift for explaining complex scientific subjects in simple language.”

8.December 14, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Nguyen Van Set, 44, dies in an airlock filled with nitrogen in his lab in Geelong, Australia. The lab had just been written up in the journal Nature for its work in genetic manipulation and DNA sequencing. Scientists there had created a virulent form of mousepox. “They realized that if similar genetic manipulation was carried out on smallpox, an unstoppable killer could be unleashed,” according to Nature.

9,10.January 2002: Two dead microbiologists: Ivan Glebov and Alexi Brushlinski. Pravda reports that Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack and reports without explanation that Brushlinski was killed in Moscow. Both were “well known around the world” and members of the Russian Academy of Science.

11.February 9, 2002 (B): Dead microbiologist: Victor Korshunov, 56, is bashed over the head and killed at the entrance of his home in Moscow, Russia. He was the head of the microbiology sub-faculty at the Russian State Medical University and an expert in intestinal bacteria.

12.February 11, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Ian Langford, 40, is found dead, partially naked and wedged under a chair in his home in Norwich, England. When found, his house was described as “blood-spattered and apparently ransacked.” He was an expert in environmental risks and disease and a senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia’s Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment. One of his colleagues states: “Ian was without doubt one of Europe’s leading experts on environmental risk, specializing in links between human health and environmental risk… He was one of the most brilliant colleagues I have ever had.”

13,14.February 28, 2002 (B): Two dead microbiologists in San Francisco: While taking delivery of a pizza, Tanya Holzmayer, 46, is shot and killed by a colleague, Guyang Huang, 38, who then apparently shot himself. Holzmayer moved to the US from Russia in 1989. Her research focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine. Holzmayer was focusing on helping create new drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS. One year earlier, Holzmayer obeyed senior management orders to fire Huang.

15.March 24, 2002 (C): Dead microbiologist: David Wynn-Williams, 55, is hit by a car while jogging near his home in Cambridge, England. He was an astrobiologist with the Antarctic Astrobiology Project and the NASA Ames Research Center. He was studying the capability of microbes to adapt to environmental extremes, including the bombardment of ultraviolet rays and global warming.

16.March 25, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Steven Mostow, 63, dies when the airplane he was piloting crashes near Denver, Colorado. He worked at the Colorado Health Sciences Centre and was known as “Dr. Flu” for his expertise in treating influenza, and expertise on bioterrorism. Mostow was “one of the country’s leading infectious disease experts” and was associate dean at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Three others died in the crash. Mostow’s death bring the total number of leading microbiologists killed in a six-month period to at least 15.

From WhatReallyHappened

The mysterious deaths of top microbiologists

It all began with Don Wiley.

On November 15th, Harvard Professor Don Wiley left a gathering of friends and colleagues some time after 10:30 PM. The next morning, Memphis police found his rental car stopped on a bridge, with a full tank of gas and keys still in the ignition. There was no financial or family trouble. Indeed Wiley was supposed to meet his family at the Memphis airport to continue on to an Icelandic vacation. Neither was there any history of depression or mental illness.

In the report printed in the New York Times on November 27th, the FBI’s Memphis office distanced itself from the case saying that the available facts did not add up to a suspicion of foul play. I guess at the FBI it’s a perfectly everyday occurrence for a Harvard Professor to stop his rental car on a bridge in the middle of the night before he is supposed to leave for Iceland and just walk away into the Tennessee dark.

The NYT report of November 27th also downplayed Professor Wiley’s expertise in virology, quoting Gregory Verdine, a professor of chemical biology at Harvard, said, “If bioterrorists were to abduct Don Wiley, they’d be very disappointed,” because his research was in studying the component parts of viruses, and “that doesn’t really help you make a more dangerous version of the virus.”

But this statement is not consistent with the facts of Professor Wiley’s full range of knowledge. Wiley has, in conjunction with another Harvard Professor, Dr. Jack Strominger, won several academic prizes for their work in immunology, including a Lasker prize. Don Wiley is a Harvard professor, but he is also a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the National Institute of Health. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and performs biological research, sometimes jointly funded by the Department of Defense and the NIH. Don Wiley’s peers at Harvard include professors such as John Collier performing research on Anthrax.

So, contrary to the dismissive tone of the New York Times report, Professor Wiley would be of great value to anyone developing biological weapons. This makes the FBI’s obvious disinterest in the case highly questionable, indeed reminiscent of the FBI’s obvious disinterest in the numerous witnesses in Oklahoma City who had seen Tim McVeigh in the company of additional perpetrators not to mention the witnesses who had seen additional bombs.

Especially in light of the events of 9/11, the vanishing of a scientist with Professor Wiley’s expertise in virology and immunology should have been expected to be an issue of critical national importance, yet the official tone of the government was that this is nothing to worry about. Move along citizen, nothing to see.

In the context of the Anthrax letters being sent through the mail, any disappearance of any microbiologist under questionable circumstances should have set off alarm bells across the nation. but it didn’t. Professor Wiley was assumed to have committed suicide, end of story.

The professor’s colleagues expressed doubts about the official “suicide” explanation for his disappearance.

Then, more biologists started to die under suspicious circumstances.

The Very Mysterious Deaths of Five Microbiologists.

The body count of infections disease experts continued to climb. Connections to weapons research began to surface.

As many as 14 world-class microbiologists died between 9/11/1 and 3/2/2, and on 6/24/2 yet another microbiologist was added to the list.

Still the US Government acted as if nothing was amiss, as silent on the question of dead microbiologists as they are on the question of the Israeli spies and their connection to 9-11.

In fact, the official silence on the question of how so many top experts in infectious diseases could die in such a short time span is deafening.

Now, statistically, it’s possible, even likely, that one or two of these microbiologists legitimately were killed in random accidents. But for so many to die in such a short while exceeds all reasonable bounds of statistics. Prudence would demand an investigation, not the “ho hum” attitude of the government which even today continues to issue dire warnings to the general population of how much we are all in danger from “bioterrorism”.

So, let’s take a moment and step away from the perpetual fear-mongering of the media (and Rumsfeld) as they assure us another attack IS coming (with a certainty which suggests inside information on the subject) and assume for a moment that some party has indeed decided to “liquidate” weapons research infectious disease experts.

There is really only one reason to kill off a bunch of scientists. To keep them from doing something they are able to do.

What were these scientists able to do? Maybe blow the whistle if an artificially created disease was about to be used in a manner those who created it did not approve of.

Regardless of the exact reason, there does seem to be a clear pattern of targeted microbiologists, and paired with it, an obvious government disinterest in the matter.

I leave it to you to figure out why.

Quite a long article

The Very Mysterious Deaths Of Five Microbiologists

By Ian Gurney


From New York Times

F.B.I. Says Arson Killed Woman Accused in License Scheme

By REUTERS February 15, 2002

MEMPHIS, Feb. 14 — A deliberately set fire caused the death of a driver’s license examiner who had been accused of illegally selling licenses to five Middle Eastern men who were being investigated for possible ties to terrorism, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has said.

Gasoline was poured on the clothing of the examiner, Katherine Smith, before she burned to death on Sunday in an automobile accident, J. Suzanne Nash, an F.B.I. agent, said on Wednesday.

Ms. Smith died one day before she was to have appeared in court with her five co-defendants after being arrested last week on charges of conspiracy to obtain driver’s licenses illegally.

In a federal court hearing here on Wednesday, Ms. Nash said an accelerant had been found in Ms. Smith’s car, adding that her death was “not an accident.”

Investigators have said the gasoline tank of the automobile did not explode. Ms. Nash also said witnesses had reported that the interior of Ms. Smith’s car was on fire before the vehicle struck a utility pole, causing just minor damage to the car.

Ms. Nash told the court on Monday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into whether the five men who were arrested had ties to terrorist groups, citing connections to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The five men, one of whom said he was a plumber at the trade center and had a visitor’s pass to the towers dated Sept. 5, are being held without bond.

A lawyer for one of the defendants has denied that they had any connection to terrorism and said they were seeking documentation to work in the United States.


Under the gaze of investigators, Katherine Smith’s Acura rests at the FBI office. Arson caused the blazing wreck, officials believe.

Smith led low-impact life until arrest, fiery end

Mystery still shrouds her fiery death, and whether her fate was linked to a scam with violent, global implications.

But old acquaintances and state records obtained Thursday by The Commercial Appeal shed some light on driver’s license examiner Katherine Smith.

Smith told investigators she and codefendant Khaled Odtllah were friends who met when she took her car to his Phillips 66 station, FBI agent J. Suzanne Nash testified Wednesday in a detention hearing for three of the codefendants.

The relationship was nothing more serious than their being friends, Nash added.

Smith was in the process of buying from Odtllah the 1992 Acura Legend in which she died. The car is still registered in Odtllah’s name, Nash said.

Smith told the FBI agent that when Odtllah found out she was a driver’s license examiner, he asked her if she could help get licenses for his “cousins.”

After her arrest, Smith admitted helping Odtllah obtain driver’s licenses six or seven times. Previously, the most severe reprimand Smith received in her state personnel file involved an accusation that she altered a document for an excused absence from work in 1990.



The burned car of Katherine Smith sits in a garage at the FBI office Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002, in Memphis, Tenn. Smith, 49, a Tennessee state employee, charged in a scheme with five Middle Eastern men to sell fraudulent Tennessee driver’s licenses, died Sunday in a fiery car crash the day before her first court appearance. Her badly burned body was discovered Sunday in a rural Tennessee County. FBI agent J. Suzanne Nash testified Wednesday that witnesses told investigators they “noticed flames from the back seat” before Smith’s car struck a pole. The agent added that the gas tank was intact. (AP Photo/Greg Campbell)

From NY Times

A NATION CHALLENGED: A SUSPICIOUS DEATH; Memphis Fraud Case Is Long on Clues but Short on Answers


Just past midnight, the car Katherine Smith was driving on a country highway north of the Mississippi border burst into flames, killing Ms. Smith, a 49-year-old state employee, and deepening the mystery in a federal fraud case.

Ms. Smith had been accused of illegally providing driver’s licenses to men with Middle Eastern ties, and law enforcement officials are investigating the Feb. 10 crash as a possible homicide. She was to appear in court the next day.

But a week later, her death and the licensing scheme remain a puzzle, and the clues are scattered from the charred remains of her Acura Legend to a World Trade Center pass held by one of the men, whose father pleads emotionally that his son is not a terrorist.

Ms. Smith was an examiner with the State Department of Safety when, investigators say, she gave driver’s licenses to three men who agreed to pay $1,000 or more to a middle man. The men, who have ties to Egypt and Lebanon, had driven to Memphis from New York City, where they live.

Continue reading the main story
On Feb. 5 the men — Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad and Mohammed Fares — obtained Tennessee licenses in false names, which gave them ”untraceable” identities, according to court affidavits and law enforcement officials.

Arrested that day at state offices by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, who had been tipped to the scheme, the men acknowledged using false information to obtain the licenses, and identified Khaled Odtllah, 31, as one of their contacts, the authorities said. Ms. Smith told the agents she had given Mr. Odtllah improper licenses on seven earlier occasions, an F.B.I. agent said in an affidavit.

Then the agents searched a fifth man, Sakhera Hammad of New York, whom the men identified as their second contact, and found an alarming piece of paper. Mr. Hammad had a worker’s pass to the World Trade Center dated Sept. 5. Suddenly, the case became a possible terrorist plot.

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mr. Hammad’s father, Peter Hansen, said his son was a plumber, and he provided a letter he said he had obtained from his son’s employer attesting to his work at the trade center. In the letter, dated Feb. 13, Sergei Denko, president of Denko Mechanical, said Mr. Hammad had been working for his company in the basement garage area of 1 World Trade Center.

”He was there for a couple of days,” Mr. Denko said in an interview.

Mr. Hansen, 56, said he immigrated to the United States 15 years ago. He said he was not in frequent contact with his son, who was born in Jordan, but he said it was inconceivable that his son was involved in any terrorist activity.

”He was devastated by Sept. 11,” Mr. Hansen said. ”We all were. I immigrated to this great country to secure a decent future for my kids. Thank God you have work, you have home, dignity, peace, food.”

Federal prosecutors indicated in court records that a second man in the scheme had ties to the World Trade Center, but did not elaborate.

F.B.I. officials said this weekend that they had begun to corroborate some of Mr. Hammad’s statements regarding his work, but that they were continuing to investigate whether the men had any terrorist links. The five men, including Mr. Hammad, are being held in Memphis without bail.

In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where Mr. Hammad lives and is known as Rocky, friends and neighbors said they were shocked by the reports of his arrest.

”He worked hard,” said Elie Eid, manager of the Sunrise Farms delicatessen. ”I feel bad. Life is strange.”

Meanwhile, the mystery of Ms. Smith’s death lies partly in the blackened remains of the champagne-colored Acura, which sits in an F.B.I. garage. Ms. Smith had said she was buying the car from Mr. Odtllah, according to court records.

Before the crash, witnesses said, the car headed down Highway 72 with its interior ablaze. Then it veered off the road and struck a pole.

Investigators have determined that Ms. Smith was killed by the fire, not the crash, and they found traces of an accelerant, possibly gasoline, on her clothing.

Standing by the car’s wreckage on Saturday, an F.B.I. spokesman, George Bolds, said there was no visible evidence of an explosive device, raising the question of whether Ms. Smith had doused herself.

”We haven’t decided yet whether it was suicide or foul play,” he said. ”It’s hard to put all the pieces together and come up with a theory that explains it all.”

Friends of Ms. Smith’s, who was known as Kat, say she was devoted to her three adult children and juggled two jobs while helping to care for her mother. Neighbors said she unfailingly remembered their birthdays.

On Saturday, some 200 family members, friends and colleagues packed a funeral home in Memphis to celebrate her life with clapping, cries of joy and resounding song.

”There is so much mystery and speculation surrounding the death of our sister,” said the Rev. L. F. Self of the Great Ebenezer Baptist Church. ”But there is no mystery about what she would want us to do now. Trust in the Lord.”




Feds fear license examiner is dead – Memphis Woman’s co-defendants tied to 9/11, judge told | February 12, 2002 | Tom Bailey Jr.

Posted on 02/11/2002 10:19:36 PM PST by Shermy

A missing Tennessee driver’s license examiner charged with conspiring to provide licenses fraudulently was probably the victim of a “most unusual and suspicious” death, a federal prosecutor said Monday.

Asst. U.S. Atty. Tim Di Scenza also raised the possibility in court that Katherine Smith’s five codefendants are involved in terrorism against the United States, citing “connections” to Sept. 11 and the World Trade Center.

A defense attorney, however, protested that the only reason the prosecutor raised the issue of terrorism is that the defendants are from the Middle East.

DiScenza told the court that the same car Smith drove when she was arrested Feb. 5 crashed in Fayette County east of Collierville early Sunday.

Although the gas tank did not explode and the car was only slightly dented from impact with a pole, a fire burned the person inside beyond recognition, FBI agent J. Suzanne Nash testified Monday.

The body had not been identified late Monday, but DiScenza told U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo that there was a “great possibility” it was Smith. While authorities have not determined if foul play was involved in Smith’s disappearance, Vescovo described the revelations as “upsetting and disturbing.”

Nash testified she was called about the wreck at 1 a.m. Sunday. Smith’s family told authorities she’d been missing since Saturday night.

Smith was to have appeared Monday for a detention and probable cause hearing in the conspiracy case against her and Khaled Odtllah, 31, of Shelby County; Sakhera Hammad, 24, of New York City, and Mohammed Fares, Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin and Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad, for whom ages and addresses were unavailable.

Smith had been free on bond since Feb. 5. The other five defendants have been detained since their arrest the same day.

The specter of terrorism and Sept. 11 emerged in Monday’s hearing when DiScenza asked Nash if documents seized from the suspects had been examined.

She responded that a visitor’s pass for the World Trade Center, dated Sept. 5, 2001, was found in Sakhera Hammad’s wallet. Hammad told authorities he was a plumber and worked on the center’s sprinkler system, Nash said. She also said that Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad and Sakhera Hammad said they were cousins, and worked together in the plumbing business.

Nash also testified that Odtllah drove back from New York City to Memphis on Sept. 11.

But Anthony Helm, attorney for Odtllah, asked Nash, “You certainly don’t have any indication any of these fellows is a terrorist, do you?”

“Not at this time, no sir,” Nash responded. Helm also argued that Odtllah has many relatives in New York City, suggesting it wouldn’t be unusual for him to travel there.

Vescovo continued the hearing until Wednesday for three of the defendants, Abou-Shanin, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad and Fares, primarily to arrange for an Arabic interpreter. The men told the FBI they are in the country illegally. She went ahead with the hearing for Odtllah and Sakhera Hammad.

Nash testified that Odtllah and Sakhera Hammad led the driver’s license scheme. She said Odtllah made the arrangements with his friend Smith, and that Hammad drove the people who bought the fraudulent licenses from New York. She said that Odtllah received $1,000 per license, and that Hammad would receive any amount paid over $1,000.

After two hours of testimony and arguments, Vescovo ordered each man held without bond until their trial. During the hearing, Di Scenza and Nash revealed details of the government’s case against the six defendants.

Smith had told authorities after her arrest that Odtllah, who goes by the nickname “Kal,” was a friend, and that he had asked her to help him obtain driver’s licenses six or seven times before.

Odtllah has lived in Shelby County two and a half years. Until a few months ago, he owned a Phillips 66 gas station. He also buys and sells cars. Nash testified that Smith had said she was buying from Odtllah the champagne-colored 1992 Acura that crashed early Sunday.

Nash testified that Smith had assigned four driver’s license numbers in the station’s computer system using forms filled out by Odtllah. But only Fares’s license showed his correct name. The other three applications contained fictitious and “totally untraceable” names, DiScenza said.

“Those kind of IDs are for further criminal activities,” DiScenza said.

Nash said Sakhera Hammad told her he came to Tennessee to get driver’s licenses only to help people have identification so they can get jobs.

Sakhera Hammad is from Jordan, but has become a U.S. citizen, said his father, Peter Hansen of New York, who attended the hearing.

Odtllah came to the United States from Jerusalem 13 years ago, Helm said. Nash said Abou-Shahin told authorities he was from Egypt and is a carpenter.

Fares has a Venezuelan passport, but speaks Arabic, DiScenza said.

DiScenza said a key question is whether the alleged license conspiracy had a purpose greater than obtaining driver’s licenses so illegal immigrants could find work. Do the circumstances in the case connect the alleged conspiracy to the World Trade Center terrorism, he asked rhetorically.

“Of course not,” DiScenza said. “But, you can only have so many coincidences.”

Helm argued that the case is not “connected to anything else in the world.” He said prosecutors are making the terrorism implications only because the defendants are from the Middle East.

Vescovo said the “completely untraceable” licenses were a great concern to the court. “What further concerns me greatly is that Ms. Smith’s vehicle has been burned and a body is inside,” she said.

While no testimony Monday links Odtllah or Sakhera Hammad to Smith’s disappearance, Vescovo said, “She is connected to the case against them.”

– Tom Bailey Jr,1426,MCA_437_982376,00.html


From World Net Daily

Memphis death tied to terror? Investigation into phony driver’s license scheme, 9-11 ties ^ | Thursday, February 14, 2002

Posted on 02/14/2002 12:10:06 AM PST by JohnHuang2

A woman allegedly at the center of a phony driver’s license scheme linked to Middle Eastern men prosecutors say have connections to the World Trade Center disaster has turned up dead.

Tennessee license examiner Katherine Smith’s burned body was found Sunday in the wreckage of a car that appears to have been torched, say authorities. She was to testify the next day before a federal magistrate judge for a detention hearing on a charge of conspiracy to obtain fraudulent identification documents.

Smith and five co-defendants were arrested Feb. 5 after they left a state driver testing station. Prosecutors said Smith had processed four driver’s license applications that morning based on false information provided by co-defendant Khaled Odtllah, 31, of Shelby County.

At Monday’s hearing, federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza described Smith’s death as “most unusual and suspicious.” He also said two of her co-defendants had “connections” to the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Smith, describing Odtllah as a friend, told authorities that he had asked her to help him obtain driver’s licenses six or seven times before.

Co-defendants Mohammed Fares, Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin and Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad are scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge today. The FBI said the men drove to Memphis from New York last week to get Tennessee driver’s licenses. Their ages and addresses were unavailable.

Odtllah and Sakhera Hammad, 24, of New York City, the other alleged middleman, made their appearance on Monday, when they were ordered held without bond until trial.

The FBI has custody of Smith’s charred Acura, which she bought from Odtllah, at an undisclosed location in Memphis, said Memphis FBI spokesman George Bolds.

“(Smith) was the subject of a pending FBI investigation. Her death coming at the time it did is very coincidental. We’re looking at that,” Bolds said. “As best we can, we’d like to recreate what happened and try to determine whether or not there was any sort of foul play in connection with her death or whether it was an auto accident.”

Smith, 49, authorities say, was probably alive after her car hit a utility pole Sunday. They believe her car was deliberately torched.

The Highway Patrol and the FBI are reportedly continuing a joint investigation into the one-car crash, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The agencies are also working together in the ongoing criminal investigation into the fraud charge.

Fagan said investigators want to know if the fatal car wreck and the driver’s license scheme “intertwine criminally,” or if Smith’s death was a coincidence.

“We’re not ruling out anything. We’re looking at all aspects of that investigation,” he told the Commercial Appeal. “We have a crash. We have a car that’s hit a pole and we know it burned. Now, what sequence – that’s part of the investigation.”

Attorney Anthony Helm, representing Odtllah, accused DiScenza of raising the terrorism issue based solely on the Middle East origins of Smith’s co-defendants. While Smith was released on her own recognizance pending Monday’s hearing, her co-defendants have remained in federal custody since their arrest.

Citing a report from the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office, Fagan said Smith was identified through dental records and that there was evidence she had inhaled smoke. To a layman, Fagan said, the evidence suggests Smith was alive when the car caught fire.

“You obviously would have to be breathing to inhale smoke, which would tell you that she was not deceased prior to impact,” he said.

Gene Marquez, resident agent in charge of the Memphis office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the ATF is contributing an ATF-certified fire investigator cross-trained as an explosives expert.


Original link has been removed

From GoMemphis

Car fire set off suspicions as crew fought it (Smith Tennesee License Scandal)

GoMemphis ^ | 15 Feb 2002 | By Bill Dries

The first firefighters at a fiery car wreck Sunday in Fayette County that killed a Memphis driver’s license examiner thought it was suspicious even as they put out the flames. Investigators began an immediate search for a device that might have triggered the intense fire, said the chief of the Piperton Fire Department.

The fire killed Katherine Smith, the examiner at the center of a federal investigation of an alleged scheme to issue driver’s licenses fraudulently to men with Middle Eastern ties.

Smith died one day before she was due to appear before a federal magistrate judge for a detention hearing on the conspiracy charge. She was released on her own recognizance, but her five co-defendants have been in custody since their arrests Feb. 5.

Piperton Fire Chief Steve Kellett said he, other firefighters and Tennessee Highway Patrol officers immediately thought the fire was suspicious. For one thing, the fire appeared to have started in the rear.

“The thing that was strange about it was how high up in the car it was. Normally, if it’s from a gas line, it tends to burn up everything and works from the front to the back,” Kellett said Thursday.

His description is consistent with testimony Wednesday by FBI agent J. Suzanne Nash before Magistrate Judge J. Daniel Breen. Nash said a group of six witnesses saw a fire in the back seat of Smith’s car as the 1992 Acura Legend veered off a stretch of U.S. 72 shortly before 1 a.m. The car crossed a ditch and landed against a utility pole.

“There was lots of damage for the amount of time it was on fire,” Kellett said, noting that the fire also spread to the pole. “We would spray an area that normally would go out, but it would keep catching back. That gives you a feeling that there was something there.”

Highway Patrol investigators did not find an incendiary device in the car that night, Kellett said, “. . . but they were looking for one.”

The Piperton department is trained in fighting arson and spotting signs of accelerants – substances used to start and direct the path of fires. “We’ve had a lot of training. We’ve seen what accelerated fires can do,” Kellett said.

In 1996, he investigated a similar vehicle fire. In that case, a truck was burned with a device that used a milk jug filled with gasoline.

Nash testified Wednesday that Smith’s clothing had gasoline on it and that a dog trained to detect the presence of accelerants indicated such substances were in the car.

Samples of those materials are being tested, she said. She also said the fire was set but did not say how or who may have done it.

Kellett said two “bubble spots” on the back of the trunk indicate arson. “Something was pushing the fire. It was focusing it in a direction.”


Original link not found

From Knight-Ridder

FBI checking 5 in illegal-license cases for possible al-Qaida links

Knight Ridder ^ | Feb. 15, 2002 | LENNY SAVINO

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The FBI is investigating whether four New York men and one from Tennessee who are in custody here for illegally purchasing Tennessee driver’s licenses may be members of an al-Qaida terrorist cell that helped survey New York’s World Trade Center for the Sept. 11 hijackers.

When one of the men, Sakhera “Rocky” Hammad, was arrested, FBI agents found a security pass from the Trade Center dated Sept. 5. Agents also have learned that Hammad drove from New York to Memphis on Sept. 11.

So far, none of the five men, all of Middle Eastern origin, has been linked to any terrorist organization or to the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI said.

But interest in the case spiked this week after Katherine Smith, the Tennessee state worker who allegedly sold the men driver’s licenses, was found burned to death in her car one day before she was due to appear in court. Forensic specialists found gasoline inside Smith’s car and on her clothing. She died from inhaling flames, one FBI agent testified.

None of the five men has been connected to her death.

“We are looking at every possible scenario,” Phil Thomas, the head of the FBI’s Memphis field office, said Friday. “And that includes whether it was an accident, a murder or a suicide.”

The trail leading from Memphis to Hammad began Jan. 31 when an FBI informant in New York told FBI agents that “several persons from the Mid-East who were here illegally” were driving to Memphis on Feb. 5 in a gray 2001 Dodge Durango, court papers say. Their purpose: to obtain driver’s licenses for about $1,000 each, according to the arrest affidavit.

The Durango, followed by a Toyota Avalon driven by Khaled Odtllah, 31, the alleged middleman in the deal and a friend of Smith’s, arrived at a motor vehicle office on Summer Avenue in Memphis at 8:15 a.m., the affidavit says.

Hammad got out of the Durango with Mohammad Ali Fares, 19; Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin, 26, and Abdelmuhsen Mahid Hammad, age unknown. The four went inside, where Smith allegedly issued driver’s licenses to the men, who used altered spellings of their names, FBI agents said.

All five were arrested after they pulled away from the motor vehicle office.

Smith, 49, was questioned the same day the men were arrested, and told FBI agents that she had provided licenses for Odtllah on about “six or seven occasions,” Thomas said.

Thomas said Smith was so “visibly shaken” before her questioning that she accidentally ran into the back of the FBI car she was following to the bureau’s Memphis office.

She surrendered a day later on federal charges of conspiracy to issue the fraudulent licenses. A Tennessee state employee for 29 years, her yearly salary was $23,052.

“She was just an average citizen raising her family and going to work every day,” the FBI’s Thomas said. “Unfortunately, she made the wrong decision.”

After his arrest, Sakhera Hammad, 24, told FBI agents that he had a World Trade Center pass because he had worked as a plumber at the twin towers. He said he worked on the sprinkler system, and that Mahid Hammad also worked at the Trade Center.

Sakhera Hammad has dual citizenship in the United States and Jordan, which controlled the eastern part of Jerusalem and the West Bank until Israel captured them in 1967.

Mahid Hammad has overstayed a visa to enter the country, and Shahin, from Eqypt, is in the United States illegally, according to the criminal complaint.

Alleged middleman Odtllah, 31, came to the United States from Jerusalem about 13 years ago and settled in Memphis, where he owned a gas station and sells used cars. Smith later said she was a customer when Odtllah learned that she worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles and asked if she could arrange to get driver’s licenses for his “cousins,” agents said.

Fares was born in Venezuela, has a Venezuelan passport and has lived in Lebanon. After walking across the border from Mexico into California, he went to New York, where he said he needed the driver’s license to get a job, court papers say.

The five men are all being held without bond.

Jake Erwin, the attorney for Mahid Hammad, said Friday that had it not been for the “collateral issues” of Smith’s death and the links to the World Trade Center, Hammad would have been released on bond.

“My client was in custody when the lady was either killed or whatever happened,” Erwin said.

Smith spent the hours before her death eating ice cream with one of her daughters in their midtown home across from the Liberty Bowl.

After her daughter fell asleep about 9 p.m. last Saturday, Smith drove her 1992 Acura to a rural road about 25 miles outside Memphis, FBI agent Thomas said.

An off-duty Mississippi police officer driving in the opposite direction saw her back seat on fire at 12:45 a.m. Sunday. By the time he doubled back, she had veered off the road and tapped a utility pole before her car burst into a fireball. Although she died in the blaze, her gas tank never ignited.


From CNSNews

NJ Man Charged in Bogus ID Ring Linked to 9/11 Hijackers ^ | 2/27/02 | Jeff McKay – The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a New Jersey man identified as a part of a fake identification ring that included two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

The FBI has charged Abdel Rahman Omar Tawfiq Alfauru, an illegal immigrant from Jordan, with producing false identification.

It is alleged that Alfauru, who was living in Clifton, N.J., had obtained bogus identification similar to that of Hani Hanjour, one of the suspected hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into Tower 1 of the World Trade Center.

The FBI has released information that it had interviewed Alfauru on Oct. 1. At that time, Alfauru had in his possession a Virginia driver’s license and also another identification card denoting a Virginia address.

Authorities claimed that Alfauru, along with another unnamed acquaintance whom he allegedly met at a gas station in Clifton, went to Virginia in July 2000 and received the driver’s license at a motor vehicle agency office. The two men allegedly used a post office box address in Alexandria, Va.

A spokesperson for the FBI office in Newark, N.J. could not comment on current aspects of the Alfauru arrest, or if he had any direct contact with any of the hijackers.


From Yahoo/AP

Six [ARABS] Charged in Tenn. License Plot

YAHOO/AP ^ | Feb 7, 2002 | None listed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A driver’s license examiner and five others, including three alleged illegal aliens, were charged in a plot to buy phony Tennessee licenses for $1,000 apiece.

According to an FBI complaint filed Wednesday, illegal aliens Mohammed Fares, Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin and Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad drove from New York to obtain licenses.

The complaint said the trio were met outside a testing center Tuesday by Sakhera Hammad and Khaled Odtllah, alleged middlemen who filled out the necessary paperwork, charging them each $1,000. Testing center examiner Katherine Smith then issued the licenses under the names of Fares and two others, the complaint said.

The complaint did not identify the men’s nationalities.

Federal officials stepped up their investigation of phony identification after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza declined to say if the defendants had any ties to terrorist groups.

The five men were being held without bail. Smith was released on her own recognizance.


From GoMemphis

5 men with Mideast ties indicted in license scam (Tennessee)

Memphis Commercial Appeal ^ | February 28, 2002 | Bill Dries

Five New York City men with ties to the Middle East were indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday for their part in an alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain Tennessee driver’s licenses.

In the indictment on one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, federal authorities shed no new light on the death of state license examiner Katherine Smith. Smith and the five men were charged in a Feb. 6 criminal complaint on an identical conspiracy charge.

Smith died Feb. 10 in a fiery car crash on U.S. 72 in Fayette County, the day before she was to appear at a detention hearing in U.S. Magistrate Court. Federal authorities have testified that the fire in the car was set.

Federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza declined comment Wednesday when asked about any developments in the probe of Smith’s death or why the licenses were sought.

The indictment names the five defendants, Smith and “others, to the grand jury unknown” as part of the conspiracy. All five remain in custody.

The indictment gave this information about the alleged scheme:

Sakhera Hammad “would solicit individuals to come to Memphis . . . in order to obtain driver’s licenses without proper documentation.”

Hammad would then pay Khaled Odtllah, who lived in Shelby County, “in order for Odtllah to arrange with Katherine Smith” to issue the fraudulent licenses.

Hammad’s cousin, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad, got a Tennessee license through Odtllah and Smith on Aug. 16, according to the indictment.

Sakhera Hammad obtained a fraudulent Tennessee license Oct. 8.

Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad allegedly drove co-defendants Mohammed Fares, Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin and a juvenile to Memphis from New York Feb. 5 to get more licenses – one in Fares’s name and three in names that prosecutors have said appear to be aliases.

FBI agents and Tennessee Highway Patrol investigators were tipped to the journey by an FBI agent in New York.

They set up surveillance outside the Summer Avenue testing station where Smith worked, according to an earlier FBI affidavit. When the group from New York left the station, the members and Smith were arrested.

Juvenile Court officials have since identified the juvenile as Ammar Khayata, 16. He is not charged but is being held by Juvenile Court officials at the request of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the officials said.


Hispanic illegals also involved in fake driver licenses, activist asserts (Tennessee)

Memphis Commercial Appeal ^ | March 3, 2002 | Marc Perrusquia

The head of a Hispanic civil rights organization says she knows of six or seven incidents over the past two years in which illegal aliens paid an unidentified state driver’s license bureau employee in Memphis to obtain fake identification.

The assertion by Dilka Roman, Tennessee director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), comes as authorities continue to investigate the mysterious death last month of a driver’s license examiner linked to a license-selling scheme.

Roman said she reported some of what she knew to Memphis police several months before the FBI opened an investigation this winter into an alleged scheme involving examiner Katherine Smith and five New York men with ties to the Middle East. Smith died Feb. 10 in a fiery car crash a week after her arrest and a day before she was to appear in court for a detention hearing.

“Through the years we’ve known that people have bought their license,” Roman said.

Roman, who serves on the police advisory board, said she told Police Director Walter Crews “in passing” last year about illegal license sales.

Yet Crews said he did not recall Roman’s tip.

“I know I would have moved on that,” Crews said.

State and federal officials also said they had no information Friday confirming they’d ever been apprised of such a tip from Roman.

“There is a multi-county investigation going on,” said state Department of Safety spokesman Beth Womack.

That investigation includes several reports of illegal sales of licenses statewide, she said. Womack said Highway Patrol Col. Jerry Scott told her he believes Roman’s information could be a part of the larger investigation, but Womack said there was no direct confirmation Friday afternoon.

Told of Roman’s account, FBI spokesman George Bolds said agents would be interested in talking with anyone who has information about the illegal sale of driver’s licenses.

Roman, 39, said she learned of six or seven cases in 2000 and 2001 in which Hispanic immigrants living in Memphis purchased licenses from someone at a local licensing station. Roman said she believed the scheme involved a single state employee – a black woman, she was told – but said she didn’t know if others could have been involved.

She said the immigrants, all men, told her they’d paid $500 or more for a license.

She said she inspected one of the fake licenses last year. The license contained the photograph of a non-citizen Hispanic man along with biographical information, including address and date of birth, belonging to a U.S. citizen.

“He had an American name and an address, and I told him, ‘This isn’t you,’ ” Roman said.

“I asked him, ‘Where did you get this?’ And he told me. ‘I paid for it.’ What they did is he had to stand in line. And when one person (a U.S. citizen) went through, she (the examiner) ran their license through twice. And she took a picture.”

Roman said she cut the license in half so the man would not continue to use it.

As an advocate for Memphis’s burgeoning Hispanic community, Roman said she received the information in confidence and has no intention of getting any of the men in trouble with the law.

Roman said she only wants authorities to know that there may be a larger problem at the state licensing stations. She emphasized that most Hispanics here follow the law, but said there is a need for more education on proper and legal methods to obtain a license.

She said she also has admonished Hispanics who’ve admitted to the illegal purchase of licenses. She said many immigrants are unfamiliar with American law and believe that if an authority figure, such as a license examiner, offers such a deal, it must be OK.

“I usually get on to them right then and say this is wrong,” Roman said. “This is not what we’re doing. This is not the purpose of the license. You know this is misrepresentation. What happens if you get stopped?”

A federal indictment handed up last week alleged Smith, the five New York men and “others, to the grand jury unknown” acted in a conspiracy to illegally obtain licenses.

According to the indictment, Sakhera Hammad would solicit individuals to come to Memphis to buy fraudulent licenses. Hammad would then pay Khaled Odtllah, who lived here, to contact Smith to issue the fraudulent licenses.

Hammad’s cousin, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad, got a Tennessee license through Odtllah and Smith on Aug. 16, according to the indictment.

Sakhera Hammad obtained a fraudulent Tennessee license Oct. 8.

Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad allegedly drove co-defendants Mohammed Fares, Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin and a juvenile to Memphis from New York Feb. 5 to get more licenses – one in Fares’s name and three in names that prosecutors have said appear to be aliases.

The investigation started in late January when a New York informant told an FBI agent there about the alleged scheme.


Link not found

Tennessee State Highway report confirms crash did not kill woman who died in flaming car

WOODY BAIRD, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, March 5, 2002

A state Highway Patrol report released Tuesday confirmed a driver’s license examiner charged in a bogus license scheme was not killed by the impact of her car ramming into a utility pole last month.

Investigators are still awaiting a coroner’s report on the cause of Katherine Smith’s death. Smith, 49, was found Feb. 10 burned beyond recognition in her car about 20 miles from her Memphis residence.

Witnesses told the FBI that the car was ablaze before it crashed into a utility pole. Smith had been scheduled to appear in court the following day on charges she helped five Middle Eastern men get licenses illegally.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Capt. Jimmy Erwin said an investigation determined Smith was traveling just over 20 mph, which he called a survivable crash. He did not to speculate on the cause of the fire.

Erwin said the few pieces of her clothes recovered from the car showed traces of gasoline.

“This was not a traffic fatality,” Erwin said.

Memphis FBI spokesman George Bolds said Tuesday that the cause of the fire remains undetermined.

“We know she was alive but not necessarily conscious after the impact with the pole. She did breathe in superheated gases from the fire,” Bolds said.

Smith was arrested five days before her death along with the five Middle Eastern men. She was accused of taking payoffs for helping them get driver’s licenses without proper documentation.

Smith had been released on her own recognizance. The other suspects are being held without bond and were behind bars when Smith died.

The men are charged under federal law with illegally trying to produce identification documents.

©2002 Associated Press


Patrol says examiner’s death not due to crash (Tennessee)

Memphis Commercial Appeal ^ | March 6, 2002 | Bill Dries

Posted on 03/05/2002 11:21:20 PM PST by sarcasm

Tennessee Highway Patrol investigators found no evidence that driver’s license examiner Katherine Smith tried to stop her car or take any evasive action Feb. 10 as her car veered off U.S 72.

THP investigators reconstructed the fiery crash that killed Smith the day before she was to appear at a detention hearing in U.S. Magistrate Court on charges that she and five New York City men conspired to fraudulently obtain Tennessee driver’s licenses.

Smith, 49, was driving a 1992 Acura Legend registered to Khaled Odtllah, one of the men arrested on Feb. 5.

Federal investigators have said the fire was set; THP officials first released the details of their investigation Tuesday.

“Her death was not the result of the crash itself,” said THP Capt. Jimmy Erwin. “Her death was by other means.”

Smith’s car left the roadway and traveled 137 feet before hitting a utility pole, THP reports indicate.

In those five seconds, there was plenty of time for even an “inattentive” driver to respond, the Highway Patrol found. The car was traveling about 21 mph when it hit the utility pole, not fast enough to kill Smith from the impact.

“Usually a person who initially strikes a fixed object, as in a suicide attempt, does so at a high speed, which is not the indication here,” the THP report says. “Therefore, ruling out inattentiveness, the driver’s lack of evasiveness could be due to incapacitation. If intoxication is not a factor, then the reason for no reaction to the hazard could lie elsewhere.”

Six witnesses saw Smith’s car leave the highway and strike the pole, the THP report says. They were traveling in two cars headed toward Corinth, Miss.

Three of the six submitted handwritten accounts of what they saw.

“When they reached the vehicle, they observed a ‘glowing’ fire coming from the back seat area,” a Highway Patrol summary reports. “They said in less than a minute after the crash occurred, a large fire had erupted in the passenger compartment.”

Rodney L. Wood, of Corinth, wrote that he and two others tried to free Smith from the driver’s seat but were driven away by the smoke and heat.

“The driver did not ever respond, moan or move,” wrote Wood, who works for the Corinth Police Department.

FBI Agent J. Suzanne Nash has testified in court that the fire was intense enough to burn off Smith’s legs and arms.

THP officers’ reports of the incident also noted that the charred hulk of the car burst into flames again as crews prepared to move it.

Since Smith’s death, the five men have been indicted on the same conspiracy charge. They have remained in custody and are not charged in Smith’s death.

The THP was to determine if Smith’s death was a traffic fatality. It does not involve any finding of possible criminal activity. The FBI is heading the criminal investigation.


Three bombs found in morgue building [ongoing sweep of building]

The Commercial Appeal ^ | Wednesday, March 13, 2002 | Yolanda Jones

A janitor found three explosive devices late Wednesday morning at the Regional Forensic Center building at 1060 Madison.

The devices — a primary device and two secondary devices — were found in a stairwell about 10 a.m.

Officials said the devices were not a “hoax.”

The devices were in an aluminum pan. The janitor initially thought someone had left his food in the stairwell.

The police Bomb Squad was called to the building. Employees were evacuated, and Madison Avenue and the Interstate 240 Madison exit ramp was blocked to traffic.

Also on the scene were units from the Fire Department and federal ATF agents.

A bomb-sniffing dog had begun scanning the building about noon.



The Commercial Appeal ^ | 3/14/02 | Yolanda Jones

A bomb and two smaller explosive-type devices were found Wednesday morning in the stairwell outside of the Shelby County Regional Forensic Center on Madison, which houses the morgue and the Medical Examiner’s Office. “This was no hoax,” said Gene Marquez, resident agent in charge of the Memphis federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office. “This was the real deal.”

A cleaning man found the devices sitting in an aluminum pan on the west side of the building at 1060 Madison about 10 a.m.

He said he thought it was “a pan of food,” but a closer inspection revealed the pan contained some sort of explosive devices, said the man, who was told by his supervisor not to give his name.

Dr. O. C. Smith, the county medical examiner, was called to examine the devices, confirmed they were explosives and called police.

“We have done several high-profile cases from (missing Harvard researcher) Dr. (Don) Wiley to Katherine Smith but there has been no indication that we offended anyone,” Smith said. “We just don’t know if we were the intended target or not.”

Smith, a driver’s license examiner, was found burned to death in her car last month after she was charged in a federal inquiry with conspiracy to obtain fraudulent driver’s licenses.

“We don’t know if this had anything to do with these cases, and are continuing our investigation,” Marquez said.

Officers surrounded the brick building, and blocked traffic on Madison and the Interstate 240 exit ramp with squad cars soon after the devices were found.

ATF agents, along with the Memphis Police Bomb Squad and the Memphis Fire Department, swarmed around the building and evacuated the seven employees inside. They also used a bomb-sniffing dog as they tried to determine if there were any other explosive devices in the building.

Marquez said an explosive device was found and described the other two objects as “destructive devices” that were not as damaging.

Police Deputy Chief Charles Cook said the devices found were not “sophisticated,” but did not elaborate, including not revealing whether they had a detonator or a timer.

“It potentially could have been a large blast if exploded,” Cook said. “We can’t speculate on who left this and why, but we don’t think it was a terrorist act. We aren’t sure if the employees in the forensic center were the targets or not.”

Cook said the devices were taken to the Memphis police gun range at O. K. Robertson Road in northwest Shelby County, where they were detonated.

The results will be sent to the ATF lab in Atlanta for analy sis, Marquez said.

After it was determined there were no other devices in the building, the forensic employees were allowed to go back to work.

Smith, who was preparing for court when the devices were found, said the incident was upsetting for his staff.

But Smith, who has an extensive military background, said he recognized the device as a bomb immediately.

“We have gotten threats in the past because we work a lot of cases,” said Smith. “But nothing like this has been found at our building. Like I said, I am not even sure we were the targets.”

– Yolanda Jones


3 Arabs Seen in Automobile hanging around water supply

Police Scanner | 04-01-02 | MusicDude_Rep

Posted on 04/01/2002 2:23:35 PM PST by MusicDude_Rep

Heard on the local police scanner in Lawrenceburg, TN. Three men, who appeared to be of Middle East origin, were in a maroon Plymouth sitting by the cities water supply.


Police identify burning body found near Wethersfield (Connecticut) Dumpster

Associated Press ^ | May 3, 2002 | AP

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ A burning body found near a strip mall Dumpster was 40-year-old Philip Hurley of Rocky Hill, Wethersfield police said Thursday. Hurley’s body was found in a trash bin behind a video store on the Silas Deane Highway Wednesday night.

Wethersfield police and firefighters responded to a call about the Dumpster fire just after 8:30 p.m. They soon determined that it was a body that was on fire.

Hurley was a 13-year employee of the state Department of Information Technology and a part-time employee at a liquor store in the strip mall.

The body was burned beyond recognition, but police suspected it was Hurley, because he did not return home last night, and his car was still parked in the strip mall’s parking lot.

Rock Regan, the commissioner of the Department of Information Technology, sent a memo to employees Thursday expressing his condolences.

Hurley died of smoke inhalation, the state medical examiner ruled.

Police said they are treating the case as a homicide. No arrests had been made Thursday afternoon.


License plot suspect pleads guilty: Will likely testify against 4 co-defendants

Memphis Commercial Appeal ^ | May 11, 2002 | Bill Dries

One of five men charged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses in Memphis pleaded guilty Friday to the federal conspiracy charge.

And the federal prosecutor handling the case said in court that Mohammed A. Fares of New York will probably testify against his four co-defendants at their trials.

Fares was to have been the first of the five suspects to be tried before U.S. Dist. Judge Bernice Donald starting May 20.

Fares and three other men with ties to the Middle East who lived in New York allegedly came to Memphis in February to illegally get Tennessee licenses with the help of the fifth suspect, Khaled Odtllah of Cordova and state license examiner Katherine Smith.

Asst. U.S. Atty. Tim DiScenza said Friday that Fares was told by co-defendant Sakher A. Hammad in New York about the scheme.

Odtllah was getting the licenses through Smith, who worked at the Summer Avenue testing station, prosecutors charged.

All six were arrested Feb. 5 after FBI agents and Tennessee Highway Patrol investigators watched the men arrive at and leave the testing station. Officials mounted the surveillance after a tip from a New York FBI agent’s confidential informant.

The case drew national attention when Smith died in a fiery car crash the day before she was scheduled to appear at a federal court hearing that month.

In arguing against denying the men bail, prosecutors cited Smith’s suspicious death and plumbing work one of the suspects did at the World Trade Center days before it was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Neither Smith’s death nor the World Trade Center attack was mentioned at Friday’s half-hour hearing before U.S. Dist. Judge Julia Gibbons, who accepted Fares’s guilty plea in Donald’s absence.

Memphis FBI spokesman George Bolds said later that Smith’s death remains under investigation and that the agency is not commenting on the probe.

FBI agent J. Suzanne Nash testified at earlier hearings that the fire that killed Smith while she was traveling on U.S. 72 in February was deliberately set with traces of gasoline found on her clothes and in her car.

“It’s possible that information pertaining to her death could come out during the trial,” Bolds said. “But they are not being charged with causing her death. So, it’s not a given that it will.”

Donald will sentence Fares later. He faces a maximum term of five years in prison.

Fares said little during the hearing other than answering yes or no to questions from Gibbons after they were relayed to him by phone through an Arabic interpreter.

Fares, 19, was born in Venezuela but his family is from Lebanon. Earlier testimony indicated Fares walked across the Mexican border into the United States after his request for a visa was rejected.

After entering California illegally, he traveled to New York, where he was trying to get a job driving a van but needed a license without having to prove citizenship or legal alien status.


Two Bodies Found Inside Burning Car At Jersey City Business

WABC-News New York website ^ | November 1, 2002 | Marcus Solis

(Jersey City-WABC, November 1, 2002) — There is a murder mystery for police in Jersey City. Firefighters putting out a car fire made a gruesome discovery on Friday morning. Two bodies were found in a burned out car in Jersey City. The Hudson County Prosecutors office is investigating this incident along with the Jersey City police.

It is a crime that rarely eludes firefighters but this morning, police were aiding them. This happened in the parking lot of a Laid law School Bus Company. This morning, employees arrived at work surprised that a murder investigation was underway.

It started around 1:30 this morning when firefighters were called to the industrial part of Jersey City to put out a car fire. It was there that they discovered a Mitsubishi Montero fully engulfed in flames. In the back seat, firefighters discovered two badly, burned bodies. One of the bodies was partially dismembered. The legs were cut off of that body.

The Hudson County Prosecutors office is investigating this incident along with the Jersey City police. As stated before, workers were quite shocked to find out what happened this morning.

Henry Patterson, Maintenance Worker: “Usually when I am here early in the morning, I make my rounds all around the area because I don’t want any surprises when I open up the doors.”

Normally, there is a gate that seals off the lot. But a month ago, a truck backed up into it and broke the gate. It is no longer functioning. That may have given someone the opportunity to dispose of this car in a location that is right across the street from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department.


Chase suspects held without bond

by Julie Ball, Staff Writer, published May 10, 2004 10:54 p.m.


MARS HILL – Federal agents investigating two Israeli men charged with eluding Tennessee authorities found only furniture in searching a storage unit in Madison County Monday, according to the Unicoi County, Tenn., sheriff.

Sheriff Kent Harris said FBI agents searched the facility, which the men reportedly rented, but they found no evidence of anything suspicious.

The men, 22-year-old Shmuel Dahan and 19-year-old Almaliach Naor have told investigators they were on their way to West Virginia to deliver furniture.

They were arrested Saturday after a chase.

Both men were held without bond Monday afternoon as authorities sought to verify their passports.

Once the men were apprehended, officers found a fake Florida driver’s license with Naor’s picture on it in a duffel bag in the truck and a business card from a Florida flight instructor in one of the men’s wallets.

The card read: “Learn how to fly” and “Fulfill your dream of flying” and listed the name and number of a Florida flight instructor.

The discovery led Harris and others to express concern about security at the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Erwin. The plant makes nuclear fuel for submarines.

Harris spotted the Ryder truck the men were in about 3 p.m. Saturday on Old U.S. 23 near Flag Pond, Tenn. The truck was moving erratically and traveling at speeds of more than 60 mph, well above the maximum speed on the curvy road, according to Harris.

The sheriff said he turned on his blue light and siren, but the truck continued for more than two miles before stopping. Some people attending a cookout on Old U.S. 23 reported seeing someone in the truck toss out a brown, plastic container during the chase, Harris said.

“They (the people at the cookout) heard us coming and saw them throw that out,” he said.

Dahan is charged with reckless driving, evading arrest, littering and false identification. Naor, a passenger in the truck, is charged with false identification.

Dahan’s attorney, William B. Lawson of Erwin, said the men might have gotten lost and ended up on the mountain road.

“They got lost, big time,” Lawson said. “It doesn’t seem like they have anything to hide.”

Harris said early Monday afternoon he was waiting on the results of tests on the liquid substance in the brown container. The bottle contained a “gooey liquid” and some sort of pellets. The bottle appeared as if it had once held pesticides of some sort, but the label was missing. Field tests done by officers turned up no evidence of drugs. “We don’t know exactly what’s in it yet,” Harris said.

The men maintain the container did not come from the truck, according to Harris. The Ryder truck contained old furniture.

The Florida flight instructor, Nissan Giat, said he met Naor at a moving company where the Israeli man works. Giat said he gave Naor one of his cards, but the man didn’t express interest in flying lessons.

Giat said Naor was recently released from the Israeli army. “He’s a good guy,” Giat said. “He’s not a terrorist.”


Harris said the men rented the truck in Florida, where they were living and working.

The FBI confirmed both men are in the United States legally, and neither man has a criminal record, according to Harris. The sheriff was waiting for word Monday on the status of one of the men’s passports.

Staff Writer Clarke Morrison contributed to this report.


Excerpts from
‘The Pocket Guide to Accelerant Evidence Collection’

Appendix II: Twenty Common Ignitable Liquids used as Fire Accelerants

This Appendix lists the common & chemical names, chemical formula, definition, important physical properties and common uses of the most frequently encountered ignitable liquids used as arson accelerants. Temperatures are rounded to the nearest full degree. Properties are reported where available from a reliable source.

1. Acetone – (dimethyl ketone, 2-propanone), (C3H6O), flash point -4 degrees F (-20 degrees C); ignition temperature 869 degrees F (465.4 degrees C); explosive limits 2.6%-13.0%; vapor density 2.0; specific gravity 0.792; toxicity (3). A volatile, flammable, colorless, liquid ketone having a fragrant odor and miscible with water, alcohol, and most oils. Principal uses are as a solvent in lacquers, varnishes, cosmetics, nail polish remover, and in the mixture of other solvents.

2. Carbon Disulfide – (carbon disulfide), (CS2) flash point -22 degrees F (-30 degrees C); ignition temperature 212 degrees F (100 degrees C); explosive limits 1.3% to 50%; vapor density 2.6; specific gravity 1.26; toxicity (2). A volatile, flammable, colorless to yellow liquid with a rotten egg odor. Carbon Disulfide, unlike most of the other common ignitable liquids, is heavier than water and will sink.

3. Coleman Fuel – (Coleman fuel C-2538, white gasoline, camping stove fuel, camping lantern fuel); (chemical formula – Coleman fuel is a mixture of hydrocarbons & doesn’t have a single formula); flash point -27 degrees F (-33 degrees C); ignition temperature – not reported; explosive limit LEL is 0.7% – UEL not reported; vapor density 3.7; specific gravity .744; toxicity (3). A straight run, unrefined, petroleum distillate used in camping stoves and lanterns. Camp stove fuels in general have a carbon range of C5 – C11.

4. Ethyl Alcohol – (ethanol, grain alcohol), (C2H5OH), flash point 55 degrees F (13 degrees C); ignition temp. 689 degrees F (365 degrees C); explosive limits 3.5%-19.0%; vapor density 1.6; specific gravity 0.8; toxicity (0). A volatile, flammable, colorless liquid having a pleasant odor and miscible in water and many organic liquids. Principal uses are in alcoholic beverages, as a solvent in pharmaceuticals, cleaning preparations, and some antifreezes.

5. Ethyl Ether – (ether, diethyl ether), (C2H5)2O, flash point -49 degrees F (-45 degrees C); ignition temperature 356 degrees F (180 degrees C); explosive limits 1.9% – 36%; vapor density 2.6; specific gravity 0.7; toxicity (2). A volatile, highly flammable, colorless liquid which forms explosive peroxides under the influence of air and light and has a sweetish odor and is slightly miscible in water, methanol, and oils. Principle uses as a solvent in organic synthesis, smokeless powder and industrial solvents.

6. Fuel oil no. 1- (kerosene, range oil, coal oil, Jet – A (aviation) fuel); Chemical formula is a carbon range of C9 – C17; flash point 110 degrees F – 162 degrees F (42 degrees C – 72 degrees C); ignition temp. 410 degrees F (210 degrees C); explosive limits 0.7% – 5%; vapor density .7 – 5; specific gravity 0.81; Toxicity (3). A colorless, combustible, straight run petroleum distillate liquid having a characteristic odor miscible in petroleum solvents and immiscible in water. Principal uses as an ingredient in lamp oils, charcoal starter fluids, jet engine fuels and insecticides. K-1 kerosene has a low sulfur content and is used in portable space heaters.

7. Fuel oil no. 2 (home heating fuel, diesel fuel), Chemical formula is a carbon range of C9 – C23, flash point 126 degrees F-204 degrees F (52 degrees C- 96 degrees C); ignition temperature 494F (257C); explosive limits – not reported; vapor density greater than 1; specific gravity less than 1; toxicity (3). A light brown, combustible, straight run or cracked petroleum distillate consisting mostly of C9 – C23 range hydrocarbons. Principal uses include heating fuel in domestic or commercial atomizing type burners and as a fuel in diesel engines.

8. Gasoline – (gas, motor fuel) Chemical formula – gasoline is a blended mixture of aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons; flash point -45 degrees F (-43 degrees C); ignition temp. 536 degrees F (280 degrees C) for 56 – 60 octane grade; explosive limits 1.4%-7.6%; vapor density 3.0 – 4.0; specific gravity 0.8; Toxicity (3). A highly flammable, blended liquid composed of more than 300 volatile hydrocarbon compounds manufactured from the fractionation or distillation of petroleum. Gasoline is the most commonly identified ignitable liquid accelerant reported by American forensic laboratories. Its principal use is as a fuel in spark ignited, internal combustion engines.

9. Isopropyl alcohol- (IPA, isopropanol, 2-propanol), (CH3 CHOHCH3), flash point 54 degrees F (12 degrees C); ignition temp. 750 degrees F (399 degrees C); explosive limits 2.5%-12.0%; vapor density 2.1; and specific gravity 0.79; Toxicity (3). A colorless, flammable liquid which is miscible in water, ether, and alcohol and having a pleasant odor. Principal uses as an ingredient in lacquers, rubbing alcohol, denaturant and lotions.

10. Kerosene – Refer to Fuel Oil #1. Kerosene is identical to Fuel Oil #1 from an investigator’s standpoint.

11. Lacquer – Composition and properties of this category of product vary by manufacturer. A spirit varnish such as shellac; any of clear or colored synthetic organic coatings that typically dry to form a film by evaporation of the solvent.

12. Lacquer Thinner – A mixture of highly volatile solvents, miscible in water, of varying composition and properties depending on the manufacturer.

13. Methyl alcohol (methanol, wood alcohol) (CH3OH); flash point 54 degrees F (12 degrees C); ignition temp. 867 degrees F (484 degrees C); explosive limits 6.7% – 36%; vapor density 1.1; specific gravity 0.79; toxicity (4). A colorless, flammable, poisonous liquid having a slight alcohol odor when pure, miscible in water, ethanol, ketones and most other organic solvents. Principal uses as an ingredient in antifreeze, dry gas, windshield washer fluids and as a denaturant in ethanol.

14. Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK,2-butanone) (CH3COCH2CH3); flash point 16 degrees F ( -9 degrees C); ignition temp. 759 degrees F (404 degrees C); explosive limits 1.9%-10.0%; vapor density 2.5; specific gravity O.8; and toxicity (3). A colorless, flammable liquid having an acetone-like odor miscible in alcohol, ether, and slightly soluble in water. Principal use as a solvent in nitrocellulose coatings and lacquers, paint removers, cements and adhesives and in the manufacture of printed circuit boards.

15. Mineral Spirits (see paint thinner)

16. Naphtha (V M & P) A general term which may describe combustible products such as mineral spirits or flammable products such as petroleum ether. The IAAI Forensic Science Committee recommends that the term be avoided. Principle uses of products in this class include thinner in paints and varnishes and as a fuel for pocket lighters. Flash point, explosive limits and other properties vary by manufacturer.

17. Paint Thinner (mineral spirits), Paint thinner or mineral spirits is a complex petroleum distillate; flash point range is listed as 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) – 110 degrees F (43 degrees C); ignition temperature 473 degrees F (245 degrees C); explosive limits 0.8% @ 212 degrees F (100 degrees C); vapor density 3.9; specific gravity 0.8; toxicity (3). A category of clear, combustible liquid having petroleum type odor. Mineral spirits are midrange petroleum distillates ranging from C8 to C12 which is present in many paint thinners, oil base stains, dry cleaning solvents, and some brands of charcoal starter fluids. There may be slight variations in the chemical information provided for different manufacturers.

18. Toluene (methylbenzene, phenylmethane) (C6H5CH3); flash point 40 degrees F (4 degrees C); ignition temp. 896 F (480 degrees C); explosive limits 1.3% -7.0%; vapor density 3.1; specific gravity 0.8; toxicity (2). A colorless, flammable liquid with a benzene-like odor, miscible in alcohol, ether, acetone and very slightly soluble in water. Principal use as a solvent in paints and coatings, paint removers, explosives (TNT), adhesive solvent for model airplanes, and as a base for polyurethane resins.

19. Turpentine (oil of turpentine) (C10H16) – The chemical formula varies with the manufacturer; flash point 90 degrees F-115 degrees F (32 degrees C – 46 degrees C); ignition temp. 488 degrees F (253 degrees C); explosive limit (LEL) .8% – (UEL) not reported ; vapor density less then 1; specific gravity 0.8; toxicity (4). A colorless, combustible liquid derived from steam distillation of wood from pine (conifer) trees. Turpentine is miscible in oils, ether, and chloroform. Principal uses are as a drying agent or as a solvent for thinners of paints, lacquers, varnishes and used in wax-based polishes and liniments. It is also used to manufacture certain linoleums, soap, ink, artificial campour and rubber.

20. Xylenes – (dimethylbenzene) C6H4 (CH3)2; flash point 29 degrees F ( – 2 degrees C) ; ignition temperature 867 degrees F (464 degrees C); explosive limits – not reported (moderate fire risk) ; vapor density > 1; specific gravity 0.86; toxicity (4). A colorless, flammable liquid miscible in alcohol and ether, insoluble in water. Xylene is isolated from crude wood distillate or obtained from fractional distillation of petroleum or coal tar. Commercial xylene is a mixture of three isomers, o-, m-, and p-xylene, the m-isomer predominates. Xylenes, a common chemical, are used for conversion to polyester fibers and plasticizers in the plastic industry, in aviation gasoline, rubber cements, automotive enamels, paints and lacquers, and a variety of other commercial applications.


AR Action Report Online

Asheville Citizen-Times

Contents of vial linked to Israelis not a threat

By Julie Ball, Staff WriterMay 11, 2004 10:50 p.m.

WITNESSES told authorities they saw someone toss a brown bottle from the truck during the police chase. The men maintain they did not throw out the container.

Harris said tests showed the bottle contained a mixture of Astromid 18, Gluconic acid and water. Astromid 18 is a latex stripper/cleaner, according to Harris.

Gluconic acid is “a slightly modified version of glucose (a sugar),” from a safety standpoint, equivalent to vinegar, according to Brad Sturgeon, assistant professor in chemistry at Western Carolina University.

Harris said it’s not clear why the two were mixed together.

An official from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the status of the men.

Contact Ball at 232-5851 or

ERWIN, Tenn. A bottle that authorities say was tossed onto a Tennessee highway during a chase Saturday contained a latex stripper and an acid compound but didn’t pose any threat of explosion, according to the FBI and authorities in Unicoi County.

“It’s really no more than littering to be honest,” said Thomas Browne, supervisor at the FBI’s Johnson City, Tenn., office.

Two Israeli men arrested as a result of the chase remained jailed Tuesday afternoon. Immigration officials planned to hold them for a hearing because of a problem with their passports, said Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris. Harris said the men had tourist passports, but they were apparently working in the U.S. moving furniture.

Harris arrested the men Saturday after chasing them for more than two miles. He spotted the rented Ryder truck they were in driving “erratically” on Old U.S. 23 in Unicoi County, just across the state line from Madison County. Investigators found a fake Florida driver’s license in a duffel bag in the truck and found the business card of a Florida flight instructor in one of the men’s wallets.

Shmuel Dahan, 22, was charged with reckless driving, evading arrest, littering and false identification. Almaliach Naor, 19, was charged with false identification. A judge on Tuesday set a $5,000 bond for Naor and a $10,000 bond for Dahan. Once they post bond, the men will be turned over the immigration officials, Harris said.

The two men say they were on their way to West Virginia to deliver some furniture. Their attorney says they got lost and ended up on the curvy, mountain road.

Witnesses told authorities they saw someone toss a brown bottle from the truck during the police chase. The men maintain they did not throw out the container.

Harris said tests showed the bottle contained a mixture of Astromid 18, Gluconic acid and water. Astromid 18 is a latex stripper/cleaner, according to Harris.

Gluconic acid is “a slightly modified version of glucose (a sugar),” from a safety standpoint, equivalent to vinegar, according to Brad Sturgeon, assistant professor in chemistry at Western Carolina University.

Harris said it’s not clear why the two were mixed together.

An official from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the status of the men.


Unicoi County (Tennessee) sheriffs arrested two Israeli men after a high-speed chase down mountain roads in this east Tennessee locale. While the sheriff was in pursuit, local witnesses noticed that materials were being thrown from the truck as it sped by, well over the posted speed limits. These witnesses were able to locate some of these items; one of which included a jug whose contents became “unusually hot” after the ingredients inside were shaken together. Upon arrest, the police noted that the cab of the truck contained a “Learn How to Fly” brochure, along with passports and Florida licenses that “just didn’t seem to add up”. The Israelis claimed they were “just in the process of moving some furniture up to Boston”. The police also stated that these two Israelis are “not being cooperative in any way.” The FBI is investigating the nature of the substance in the jug that was recovered, which has been classified as an “inflammable fuel.”


(Search in their archives for “crime lab in Knoxville to be tested” if article doesn’t turn up, as usual…)



The sheriff said witnesses saw the men throw something from the truck while they were being pursued. A witness brought officers a vial containing an unknown substance, he said.

Lawson said the vial contained a “fuel source,” but he added that it hasn’t been identified and authorities were treating it with caution.

Harris said the liquid in the 12-ounce plastic container was thick, like liquid drain cleaner. It will be sent to either East Tennessee State University or the FBI’s crime lab in Knoxville to be tested. Once the men were apprehended, officers found a business card that offered flying lessons in Florida,…”



Link is dead

Sensir Technologies

A White Powder Incident and the TravelIR™ HCI

A small package received at a Washington , D.C. post office brought an entire city block to a standstill. White powder had spilled from the package in the post office receiving area. This was cause for alarm due to recent events, in which deadly spores of bacillus anthracis (anthrax) were being distributed through the mail system. Taking no chances, authorities closed off Wisconsin Avenue to all traffic, and halted post office operations.

Identifying Laboratory Chemicals Using the TravelIR

Waste management teams at industrial and academic laboratories are routinely called upon to dispose of chemicals. It is not uncommon to discover these chemicals in reagent bottles or other containers having very poor, if any, labeling. The contents of such containers must be identified before appropriate transport and disposal. One team came across four containers of liquids in various states of labeling.

On-Site FT-IR Analysis of Illicit Drugs and Precursor Chemicals at Clandestine Labs

Many street drugs, like methamphetamine, ecstasy and ã-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), are easily manufactured in clandestine laboratories from readily-available chemicals. Immediate and accurate identification of chemicals seized in a clandestine lab raid is crucial. Some of the substances present handling problems due to their toxic, labile or hygroscopic nature. On-site characterization also secures the chain of evidence needed to prosecute the offenders.

Mobile FT-IR Analysis of Chemicals Diverted to Clandestine Drug Synthesis

A portable TravelIR infrared spectrometer has been used to analyze precursor, reagent and solvent chemicals often used in the clandestine synthesis of illicit drugs. Because these substances are subject to international regulation, having a method for their rapid and accurate identification directly at points of import will be tremendously useful to customs officials needing to eliminate the diversion of legitimate cargo to illegal drug manufacturers.

Reachback at Work

The TravelIR Hazardous Chemical Identifier (HCI) and HazMatID are changing the way HazMat responders approach chemical events. These systems identify solids and liquids in seconds by comparing their infrared spectra, or “fingerprints,” to libraries of digitized reference spectra. However, complex real world samples sometimes require analysis that is beyond the HazMat technician.

Astromid-18, Gluconic Acid, & other Aqueous-Based Library Compounds

Recently, we have received many questions from TravelIR HCI™ and HazMatID™ customers as to why Astromid-18™, Gluconic Acid and other such products appear in their library hit lists when certain samples are analyzed. This Technical Note addresses these questions and how to understand such results.



Are the Israelis planning something for the G-8 Summit? : Indybay


From the page: “Tests showed the bottle contained a mixture of Astromid 18, Gluconic acid and water. A chemist told Mad Cow Morning News, “It could possibly be an agent for growing some kind of bug.” The Israelis were taken into custody by the FBI, then handed over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for deportation. ”

Growing some bug ??? Like a cockroach? []
(Search in their archives for “crime lab in Knoxville to be tested” if article doesn’t turn up, as usual…)

The sheriff said witnesses saw the men throw something from the truck while they were being pursued. A witness brought officers a vial containing an unknown substance, he said.

Lawson said the vial contained a “fuel source,” but he added that it hasn’t been identified and authorities were treating it with caution.

Harris said the liquid in the 12-ounce plastic container was thick, like liquid drain cleaner. It will be sent to either East Tennessee State University or the FBI’s crime lab in Knoxville to be tested. Once the men were apprehended, officers found a business card that offered flying lessons in Florida,…””

Now Israeli’s want to take flying lessons, in May 2004 ?

gluconic acid
Liked it Aug 16, 2005 9:02pm 1 review terrorism •…
The Pherobase: Database of Insect Pheromones and Semiochemicals.
Species like the Oriental cockroach utilize Gluconic acid in its chemical communication system. They use it as an allomone.
Allomones: Chemical substances that benefits the emitter but not the receiver (e.g. venom secreted by social wasps).

If an evil (bio)chemist could attach a deadly virus to a Gluconic acid molecule and feed that to certain insects, a very ugly box of Pandora would be opened. It would however be a non specific form of attack…

Or feed f.ex. cockroaches, mosquitos, wasps or bees with Depleted Uranium complexed Gluconic acid salts…..

Or mix Depleted Uranium dust with certain drugs….

That’s still impossible. Or not? []
“”Acetobacter methanolicus is used to catalyze the conversion of glucose into gluconic acid.””
It’s an industrial process in which they use a specific bacterium suspension as the catalyst (a not consumed facilitater of a chemical process). []
Used in cleaners/detergents, household cleaners.

BTW, such a chemist could be of any nationality. Anybody with a longterm hatred against a certain population group would be deadly dangerous.
Could be a holocaust survivor who can’t forget the complicity of the allies in neglecting the very early warnings that the Nazi’s were busy trying to eradicate all Jews under their “posession”.
Could be a Palestinian refugee camp survivor who can’t forget his bluntly murdered family.
Could be any victim of brutal warfare…
Or even a derailed mentally crippled fundamentalist fanatic of Christian, Muslim, or whatever religious descent.

Any fanatic will need to be cured. Or eradicated?
Do we even have a choice in these matters?

Liked it Aug 16, 2005 7:39pm 1 review terrorism •…
“”Gluconic acid and its derivatives (salts or esters) are used in the formulation of pharmaceuticals, foods, and cosmetics as mineral supplements to prevent the mineral deficiency and as buffer salts. They are used as ingredients in various hygienic products. In industrial applications, they are used for scale removal in metal cleanings, industrial and household cleaning compounds including mouth washer, metal finishing, water treatments, and as paper and textile auxiliaries.””
So it could be used as part of a carpet cleaner, f.ex. this cleaning fluid called Astromid 18.

However, it also is a strong chelating agent.
“”It has a carboxylic group and five hydroxy groups, and thus is a good chelator particularly alkaline conditions. Chelation is a chemical combination with a metal in complexes in which the metal is part of a ring. Organic ligand is called chelator or chelating agent, the chelate is a metal complex. The larger number of ring closures to a metal atom is the more stable the compound. Chelation is applied in metal complex chemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and environment protection. It is used in chemotherapeutic treatments for metal poisoning.””

VERY handy for treating depleted Uranium poisoning in humans….

“”Chelating agents offers a wide range of sequestrants to control metal ions in aqueous systems. By forming stable water soluble complexes with multivalent metal ions, chelating agents prevent undesired interaction by blocking normal reactivity of metal ions. Heavy metals are chelated in alkaline solution and their interferences are eliminated gluconic acid. “”

Remember, ONLY the US, British and ISRAELI armies have actively used depleted Uranium as armor piercing shells. And exposed also their OWN army personnel in the process of firing those DU-rounds to the horrible long term biological and chemical radioactive effects of it.

Were these clumsy “spies” on a humanitarian quest for solutions for DU-poisening, or were they trying to seed US army bases with a deadly flu virus, to get the bulk of US army personnel over to their camp, in hating “Arabs” unconditionally, after constructing another story of crazy “arabs” attacking the USA again?
Liked it Aug 16, 2005 6:54pm 1 review terrorism •…
“”Medical experts chasing down vials of deadly flu virus.
The United Nation’s health agency has now identified all the countries that received vials of a nearly 50-year-old killer flu virus.

The World Health Organization says most of the vials were sent to labs in the United States. Some also went to Canada and Mexico. And more than 60 laboratories outside North America received them.

The WHO’s influenza chief calls the decision to send out the virus “unwise.” He says a very similar virus caused a 1957 global flu pandemic that killed between one and four million people.

The germ hasn’t been included in flu vaccines since 1968 and anyone born after that date has little or no immunity to it.

A Canadian lab told the WHO last Friday that it had traced the 1957 strain to a kit used to test quality control in the lab. The world agency then recommended samples be destroyed.

The same day the College of American Pathologists faxed the labs asking them to incinerate the samples and confirm that in writing.

(The vials also were sent to labs in Belgium, Bermuda, Chile, Brazil, France, Germany, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Taiwan.)””

A “vial” is also known as a medicine-bottle.
In all newsreports I dugged up regarding those 2 Israeli “spies”, who threw a vial out of the car when chased by a county sheriff, all called it a vial, and not a bottle.
( []
“Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris says a witness brought troopers a vial the men had thrown out of the truck. Harris says when it was shaken, the thick liquid in the vial became warm.” )
( Search for article ID: “ash11851308” in the Asheville Citizen-Time will bring up a page with a bug (nojavascript-bug), so you can only read the first few lines :
“1. Contents of vial linked to Israelis not a threat
May 12, 2004 ** 379 words ** ID: ash11851308
Contents of vial linked to Israelis not a threat ERWIN, Tenn. — A bottle that authorities say was tossed onto a Tennessee highway during a chase Saturday contained a latex stripper and an acid compound but didn’t pose any threat of explosion, according to the FBI and authorities in Unicoi County. “It’s really no more than littering to be honest,” said Thomas Browne, supervisor at the FBI’s Johnson City, Tenn., office. ”

Well, if ever I saw as a chemist, downplaying a damm interesting find by the FBI, than it’s this one.
There was an earlier report from the same newspaper; []
but when you click it now, it comes up with an error.
However, this was included in that article:
“”Harris said early Monday afternoon he was waiting on the results of tests on the liquid substance in the brown container. The bottle contained a “gooey liquid” and some sort of pellets. The bottle appeared as if it had once held pesticides of some sort, but the label was missing. Field tests done by officers turned up no evidence of drugs. “We don’t know exactly what’s in it yet,” Harris said.””

Don’t you get a titbit upset by that remark about “pesticides of some sort” ? That resembles a lot a vial containing a 1957 deadly flu virus, in my opinion.

If someone doesn’t want to get caught with some living virus like that, he will add a strong acid or base, or both, to the vial, before throwing it out of their car window. And if you shake an aqueous solution containing basic pellets, f.ex. NaOH and metal-complexed Gluconic acid salts, you will feel the vial become warm, caused by the exothermic dissolving of a strong solid base in water.

It seems to me that sheriff Harris himself or one of his lab assistants did a quick HazMatID test on the vial’s content, and came to a substantially wrong conclusion !
Remember, the FBI showed no INTEREST at all to pick up samples.
I would be extremely carefull when I had to cast my next vote for a US election…When you read this PDF file, you will understand that any mixture of a detergent or surfactant with water and unknown organic substances will provide a high match with Gluconic Acid and Astromid-18. But it will NOT contain all or any of these substances!
You will have to perform a much better analysis of the unknown substance, to find out what it really contains. I would love to hear that sheriff Harris still has some samples left, and some biochemist should scrutinize it under a very good microscope to check on dead or alive virusses or bacteriae.From the pdf-page:
“”Going by our above discussion of mixture samples, it follows that any sample consisting of organic chemicals mixed with water can produce matches with Astromid-18 and Gluconic Acid. Examples include alcoholic beverages, cleaning solutions, and contaminated water. Figure 2 illustrates such an analysis, in which a liquid detergent (basically a
surfactant and water) was analyzed on a HazMatID. The top two matches were Gluconic Acid and Astomid-18, and each had relatively high similarity values ( 0.90) because all of these substances contain water and some organic material.
However, the expanded view of all three spectra indicates that neither Gluconic Acid nor Astromid-18 is truly a good match for the liquid detergent, since each substance has unique peaks and none of the spectra overlap very well.
One would conclude from this analysis that the sample (assuming it was an “unknown”) is a water-based substance containing some other organic material, but it is not consistent with Gluconic Acid, Astromid-18, or any of the library spectra available for the analysis.
It cannot be understated that the TravelIR HCI and the HazMatID do not identify substances – the user does. These instruments simply provide valuable information that facilitates the process. Consequently, they should always be used in conjunction with other instruments and meters to obtain a full understanding of the sample identity and potential hazards. You can learn more about IR analysis, dealing with mixture samples, and other TravelIR HCI and HazMatID topics at our Educational Corner at [] “” (dead link)

The MadCow Morning News


From the page: “But what propelled it into the national news was the ‘Learn to Fly in Florida’ business card found by police in the wallet of 23-year old Dahan, an Israeli military veteran. I got a sick feeling when I saw it (the business card), Kent Harris, Sheriff of Uncoil County in Tennessee, told the Associated Press. He cited the proximity of the Nuclear Fuel Services plant nearby, the nation’s sole provider of fuel for the Navy’s nuclear subs, according to officials.

They were just three miles from where, if you get off at exit 15, off I-26, you’re just a half-mile from all the nuclear plants, he told the MadCowMorningNews. There’s Nuclear Fuel Services, which is a privately-owned company. Studdwick, another privately-owned company. And they’re building a third one now.”

“Harris said tests showed the bottle contained a mixture of Astromid 18, Gluconic acid and water. Astromid 18 is a latex stripper/cleaner. But he said it’s not clear why the two were mixed together, and according to a scientist at the nearby nuclear lab he consulted, the liquid could be used as a culture.

“I asked the lab if there was anything else you can think of that it could be used for,” said Harris. “The chemist told me, ‘Well there’s no way it’s a bomb. If you drank it definitely could kill you. But it could possibly be an agent for growing some kind of bug.'”
Normally in cases like this the FBI would be the final arbiter of “what’s what.” But these are anything but normal times. And the FBI has been behaving strangely since 9/11.
“The FBI never tested it (the liquid),” said the Sheriff. “We took some samples for them but the FBI never even sent anyone over to pick them up.”

“People at a big fish fry came out to the front porch when they heard the sirens, and seen the blue lights. They all saw the truck go by, saw me go by. One man seen the bottle come out of the truck, and the rest saw it turning in the road after the truck went by.”

“There’s no doubt about the fact they threw the liquid out of their truck. And they didn’t stop when they should have. I would have been happier if they’d said, ‘yes, the bottle was ours.’ That would have relieved my mind. But they still say they didn’t throw it out. They still say they didn’t see me behind them, even though they pled guilty to evading arrest.”