Alleged al-Qaida crony to be deported

| Wednesday, July 24, 2002

A man with alleged ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network will likely be deported to Syria by mid-October without facing any terrorism charges. The Kuwaiti native had been living in the Detroit area and was licensed to haul hazardous materials, including explosives and caustic chemicals.

Nabil al-Marabh, who was arrested near Chicago after the Sept. 11 attacks, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit alien smuggling. He was accused of trying to sneak across the Canadian border into New York, in a tractor-trailer with the help of two men in June 2001.

Prosecutors reportedly don't have enough evidence to pursue more serious charges. He was identified as a bin Laden agent by a man convicted of conspiring to blow up a Jordanian hotel filed with Americans and Israelis on Jan. 1, 2000.

Al-Marabh's name turned up on a watch list last September after he allegedly transferred money to a bin Laden associate in the Middle East. He was arrested Sept. 19 at a Burbank, IL, liquor store where he recently started working.

Al-Marabh had multiple driver licenses dating back to August 2000, said Patty Hayden of the Michigan Secretary of State's office. In September 2000, his license was updated to add a commercial designation to haul hazmat. In November 2000, his license was corrected to reflect an address change, and in August 2001 a duplicate license was issued. Hayden said residents generally request a duplicate license if their previous license has been lost, damaged or stolen.

Elizabeth Boyd, a spokeswoman with the Secretary of State's office, said the state decided to review procedures for issuing duplicate licenses last fall, but noted it is up to the individual to make sure they destroy outdated licenses. Since then, Boyd said the department decided not to change procedures for issuing duplicates.

Three other men were arrested last September when federal terrorism agents raided the apartment in southwest Detroit where al-Marabh had lived and allegedly discovered bogus identification papers and a day planner containing sketches in Arabic of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, which is used by U.S. planes to patrol Iraq, and sketches of an airport in Amman, Jordan.

Two of the three men had trained last summer in the Detroit area to drive tractor-trailers. They had also worked as dishwashers until July 2001 for a company that provides in-flight meals for airlines at Detroit Metro Airport. It was unclear what effect al-Marabh's deportation would have on the three.
--Keith Goble, staff writer

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