Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Agents raid NY homes in terror probe

AL-QAEDA LINK? While no weapons were found and no arrests were announced, an intelligence officer said the threat was very real and emphasized its urgency


FBI agents and police raided three apartments in New York City before dawn on Monday during an investigation of a man suspected of being an al-Qaeda associate.

The searches came after the man, who was under surveillance for possible links to the terror network, visited New York City over the weekend and left the area, Representative Peter King of New York said after receiving a briefing on the operation from federal law enforcement officials.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who was also briefed on Monday, said a terrorist attack was not believed to be imminent. He said the law enforcement action was unrelated to US President Barack Obama’s visit to the city on Monday.

New York City Police Department (NYPD) spokesman Paul Browne confirmed that searches were conducted in the borough of Queens by agents of a joint terrorism task force.

Residents on Monday described officers armed with search warrants swarming their immigrant neighborhood at about 2:30am. Afghanistan native Akbari Amanullah said when he arrived home from work afterward, he was told that one of his roommates had been hauled away.

No arrests were announced. Neither the FBI nor the NYPD would discuss the whereabouts of the al-Qaeda suspect or whether anyone was being held for questioning in New York.

A White House spokesman said Obama, who spoke on Wall Street on Monday, had been briefed on the investigation.

Two US intelligence officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, said the target of any purported attack — or who would carry it out — remained unclear.

Authorities have not found any weapons ready for use that would indicate an attack was imminent, they said. Nevertheless, one of the officials called the threat very real and emphasized its urgency.

Another person briefed on the matter, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, said the raids were the result of previous law enforcement surveillance of people.

The probe was continuing.

Schumer said he couldn’t discuss much of the case because many of the details were still classified.

“There was nothing imminent, and they are very good now at tracking potentially dangerous actions, and this was preventive,” he said.

One man at a three-story brick apartment building in a predominantly Asian neighborhood of Queens confirmed on Monday that authorities had been at his apartment, but he wouldn’t identify himself or comment further. Nearby resident Kabir Islam said he saw FBI agents and police officers surrounding the apartment when he arrived home after 3am.

Amanullah, a taxi driver, said about a dozen FBI agents went to his nearby fifth-floor apartment, which he shares with four other Afghan natives, at about 2:30am.

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