FBI arrests first suspect in attacks

Saturday, September 15, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Law-enforcement authorities made their first arrest Friday in the worldwide investigation of this week's terrorist attacks, apprehending a suspect in New York thought to have relevant information.

The suspect was arrested as a material witness in the World Trade Center attack, New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, told a news conference there Friday night.

Jim Margolin, spokesman for the FBI in New York, said the Joint Terrorist Task Force took the man into custody at 3 p.m. on the material witness warrant, which allows authorities to arrest someone considered crucial to an investigation without charging him with any crime.

A law enforcement source said the man arrested was the same person arrested Thursday at Kennedy International Aiport after showing a phony pilot's license. In that case, he was detained by Port Authority police and not the FBI.

Officials declined to identify the man or say what information they were seeking.

36,000 leads

It was the first break in the investigation, code-named PENTTBOM, into the worst terrorist assault on U.S. soil. Some 5,000 people are believed to have perished in Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The FBI has received over 36,000 leads and has issued hundreds of subpoenas. It released the identities Friday of the 19 hijackers.

Authorities said they were still investigating whether more terrorists might be at large and were searching for 100 people for questioning.

The FBI warned two Southeast cities -- Richmond, Va., and Atlanta -- it had information suggesting terrorists may have had plans for attacks in those cities, law enforcement officials said.

But late Friday, further investigation left officials doubtful of the threat. The information came from an acquaintance of one of the hijackers and was shared with Atlanta and Richmond, officials said. But the witness failed a lie-detector test Friday evening.

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