Update: Three terrorist suspects have CDL training

| 9/24/2001

A man licensed to haul hazardous cargo was arrested near Chicago last week by federal terrorism agents. According to published reports, two of three men arrested at the man's former Detroit residence also had recently trained to drive tractor-trailers.

Nabil Almarabh, named by a source close to the federal investigation as a close associate of Osama bin Laden, was arrested in a Burbank, IL, convenience store where he had recently started working. He is being held on a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service request and on a warrant issued in Boston in March for allegedly violating terms of his probation on an assault conviction.

In Detroit, agents interviewed officials of the U.S. Truck Driver Training School, where two of the men found in Almarabh's former residence, Ahmed Hannan and Karim Koubriti, spent a month this summer learning to drive big rigs, the Detroit Free Press reported.

At Almarabh's former residence, federal officials discovered false identification papers and a day planner with notations in Arabic related to the U.S. base in Turkey, the American "foreign minister" and an airport in Amman, Jordan, according to the newspaper. The planner also contained sketches of an airport believed to be in Turkey. The men worked as dishwashers until July for LSG Sky Chefs, which provides in-flight meals for airlines at Detroit Metro Airport.

Reportedly, Almarabh obtained his CDL on Sept. 11, 2000 - one year to the day before hijacked airliners were crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He is alleged to have visited a Secretary of State branch in Dearborn in August 2000 and showed proof that he had passed a road test in a big rig given by a driving examiner for Detroit Public Schools.

Hannan and Koubriti started training at the truckdriving school the same month they took a leave of absence from their jobs at Sky Chefs. After they left, they kept their ID badges.

At the school, the men claimed they needed the training classes for their jobs at Sky Chefs, the Free Press reported. Sky Chefs officials, however, say they never considered promoting the men to truckdrivers.

The two men and another man, Farouk Ali-Haimoud, are charged with possession of false identification documents and conspiracy. They are being held without bond by the U.S. Marshal's Service.