Additional Links in Border Arrests : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Additional Links in Border Arrests Updated 3:04 PM ET January 12, 2000 By WILSON RING BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Prosecutors said today that a Canadian woman arrested at a remote Vermont border crossing last month telephoned associates of a suspected terrorist arrested in Washington state days earlier.

In court documents filed in advance of a bail hearing for Lucia Garofalo, prosecutors claimed they had found more evidence of her activities in an Algerian terrorist organization.

"Telephone toll records establish an additional recent link between Garofalo and associates of Ahmed Ressam," the prosecutors said, referring to the Algerian man arrested with explosives in Washington state.

They also for the first time drew links between Garofalo and Abdel Ghani, a man arrested in New York last month on charges that he was involved in a possible bomb plot in the Seattle area.

Today's hearing was called by the federal magistrate, who had said last week he needed more direct evidence to terrorist ties to continue to hold Garofalo without bail. She is charged only with minor immigration violations, and attorney Maryanne Kampmann had said last week that she could prove false many of the allegations made against Garofalo.

The alleged telephone links are circuitous, prosecutors said. But they alleged that was how the terrorist organization Armed Islamic Group, known by its French initials GIA, operated.

"It is not surprising that there is a chain of calls between the participants as is disclosed in the complaint against Ghani," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kirby wrote.

There were a series of telephone calls between people who have ties to Ressam and Garofalo last month around the time of both her arrest and Ressam's, Kirby said in court documents.

"The timing of the link is remarkable in that it occurs during the December period when the defendant and Ressam were committing their crimes," Kirby wrote.

The alleged links are through a man named Raja Aslam, who had telephone numbers on New York's Long Island, prosecutors said.

Garofalo allegedly had the telephone number registered to Aslam in her pocket when she was arrested at Beecher Falls, Vt., on Dec. 19.

"Records show that on Dec. 14, 1999, the date Ressam tried to bring explosives into the United States, Garofalo called this cell phone," according to court records.

Additional calls were placed from a number assigned to Aslam to one that prosecutors said was assigned to Ghani and to another cell phone. Prosecutors did not explain the significance of the additional cell phone, but said it was involved repeatedly in communications among the players.

"Records disclose that over the period Dec. 11 to 19, this latter telephone called a number belonging to Abdel Ghani over 20 times, including six times on Dec. 19, the day that Garofalo was arrested," Kirby wrote.

Other telephone records showed contacts between a cell phone belonging to Aslam to a cell phone "somewhere in Vermont during the early morning hours of Dec. 15, 1999."

Prosecutors have alleged that Garofalo was turned back on that date when she tried to cross the border at Pittsburg, N.H. They allege that she later crossed the border successfully but illegally without detection. She was then arrested in a third attempt at crossing Dec. 19. At that time, authorities said, she was accompanied by another man, Bouabide Chamchi, a 20-year-old Algerian national who also faces immigration charges.

The arrests had stirred fears of terrorist attacks, perhaps timed to New Year's Eve. Ressam had a one-night reservation at a motel near Seattle's Space Needle, and the fears resulting from that link were cited as one reason for the cancellation of the New Year's bash there.

-- Cyndi Crowder (, January 12, 2000

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