FBI looks for men who booked flight to village near pipeline

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2003

ANCHORAGE - Amid heightened national security, the FBI is looking for a man who booked a flight to a remote village near the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

A man had requested a charter to the Koyukuk River village of Allakaket using a known alias of Zaman Muhammad, but he and a travel companion didn't show up for the flight. The air carrier then contacted the FBI.

"We cannot connect them with any type of criminal activity at this time," said Bob Burnham, assistant special agent in charge for the FBI in Anchorage. "As far as we know, there could be a completely innocent explanation to all of it."

Saying new intelligence data suggested the possibility of terrorist attacks during the holidays, federal officials on Sunday raised the national security threat level to "orange," the highest notch below an actual attack. Gov. Frank Murkowski raised the state's level to orange on Monday.

Burnham said employees at the air carrier became suspicious about a stranger asking to travel to Allakaket, 190 miles northwest of Fairbanks, in winter. The flight path parallels the pipeline part of the distance, but doesn't cross it.

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