Fatal crash prompts FBI investigation

| 2/24/2006

A fatal wreck involving a truck on Interstate 55 in Illinois led to an FBI investigation after a large amount of cash, checks and multiple IDs were found in one of the cars involved.

The chain-reaction wreck started when a semi driven by Benton Chapman of Edmond, OK, rear-ended a car that had come to a stop in traffic. That set off a chain reaction that ultimately involved seven other cars. A Chicago woman and a Puerto Rican physician were killed.

The Chicago Tribune reported that one of the other cars was found to have a check for a large sum of money along with a large amount of cash. The passenger of that car was the Puerto Rican physician who was killed. He was not a resident of the U.S.

The scenario set off alarm bells with the FBI, but a subsequent investigation – along with information from the man’s family – found that the Puerto Rican physician, Lafi Hussein Nofal, had real estate and business investments in Chicago and was in town to deal with a lawsuit involving one of those investments.

Though he lived in Puerto Rico, Nofal’s lawyer told the Tribune that his Middle Eastern ethnicity probably played a role in fueling the FBI’s suspicions of possible links to terrorism, even though none were found.

Nofal did have an Illinois identification card registered to the address of one of his business partners, but his lawyer told the Tribune that was probably just so he could do business in the state more easily.