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Third arrest in bomb plot; charges expected for man arrested Christmas Eve

Posted: Monday, January 03, 2000

SEATTLE - Federal agents in Seattle are holding another Algerian man suspected of being involved in the alleged plot by members of an international terrorist faction to smuggle explosives into the United States.

The man, identified on a court calendar as Abdel Hakim Tizegha, was picked up Dec. 24 and is being detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the FBI, according to sources. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle was expected to charge him Monday afternoon with illegally entering the U.S.

Additional conspiracy- and bomb-related charges are under investigation, sources said.

Tizegha was picked up on Christmas Eve in Western Washington. Details of his arrest and what his connection may be to the investigation into Ahmed Ressam remained unclear early Monday.

Ressam was arrested by U.S. Customs agents Dec. 14 in Port Angeles, Wash., in a car authorities say was laden with bomb-making materials. He has been charged with attempting to illegally transport explosives. Authorities have said he was part of a wide-ranging and well-organized plot by Algerian terrorists to ``punish'' the United States.

Ressam's arrest triggered an intense international investigation as officials attempted to head off a terrorist attack in the United States before the New Year's holiday.

On Thursday, New York anti-terrorism agents arrested Abdel Ghani, who is alleged to have traveled to Seattle on Dec. 11 to meet Ressam. He has been charged with secretly trying to help Ressam violate federal explosives laws, and with conspiring to use fraudulent credit and bank cards.

In addition, immigration and FBI agents in several major U.S. cities, including Boston, New York, Houston and San Francisco, conducted a sweep of Algerians whose names have come up in connection with the case. No other bomb-related criminal charges were announced.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle also has obtained a sealed arrest warrant for a material witness in the case. That person apparently remains at large.

Kate Pflaumer, U.S. Attorney in Seattle, declined to discuss Tizegha's arrest or his alleged connection with the bombing case.

According to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn in connection with Ghani's arrest there, Ressam was part of an organized faction of terrorists who had agreed that ``Allah will shake up this world, that a new generation will punish America, and that Islam's renaissance will rise from Algeria.''

The papers detailed that Ressam had told a confidential source he was supposed to leave his explosives-laden car at a parking lot in Seattle with the keys in the ignition, to be picked up by another member of the group whom he may not have known.

The network was organized so no member knew the names of more than two other colleagues, so that in the event of an arrest the rest of the organization would remain intact.

Ghani was supposed to meet Ressam in Seattle after he dropped off the car and then go to Chicago to raise money for the cause, according to the documents filed in Brooklyn.

Ressam, who had made an overnight reservation at a motel near Seattle Center, had made airline reservations to fly from Seattle to Chicago, then to New York and to London.

The plan cracked when Ressam, 32, became nervous and attracted the attention of Border Patrol guards in Port Angeles as he attempted to drive off a ferry from Victoria. He was arrested following a brief foot chase.

In his car, officials found fertilizer, three types of explosives - including one used in military plastic explosives - and four sophisticated detonator-timing devices anti-terrorism experts have identified as a trademark of terrorist groups training in Afghanistan.

Last week, federal prosecutors in Vermont linked Ressam, who has lived for several years in Montreal, to Lucia Garofalo, a Montreal woman arrested Dec. 19 while trying to smuggle an Algerian man into the country with a false passport. She is acquainted with a former roommate of Ressam known to be a member of an Algerian terrorist group.



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