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2 indicted as alleged conspirators in suspected terror plot

January 19, 2000
Web posted at: 3:03 a.m. EST (0803 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two men accused of helping provide false documents to a suspected terrorist group associated with alleged explosives smuggler Ahmed Ressam have been indicted in federal court.

Mokhtar Haouari, a Canadian, and Abdel Ghani Meskini were accused of conspiracy in procuring forged papers and passports. Their indictments came Tuesday in federal court in New York.

Haouari was arrested in Canada, law enforcement sources said. Ghani was arrested late last month in New York. U.S. authorities claimed he worked with Ressam on a potential terrorist plot.

Ressam was arrested December 14 after U.S. Customs officials found bomb-making materials in the trunk of his rented car. He was on a ferry from Victoria, British Columbia, to Port Angeles, Washington.

According to the complaint filed December 30 against Ghani, a motel employee identified him as being in the Seattle area just days before Ressam's arrest.

The threat of terrorism

As many as 15 other people have been arrested or detained as U.S. law enforcement agencies continue to investigate a potential terrorist plot.

Officials say those arrested so far were targeted because phone records and intelligence sources revealed they had associations with other prime suspects -- including Ressam.

Federal officials say Ressam, an Algerian, has links to a violent Algerian terrorist group and may have ties to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Bin laden, federal officials say, has expanded his network from his base in Afghanistan to 52 countries. The U.S. government is working with other countries to bring down Bin Laden's international connections and has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest. But he has remained elusive so far.

Justice Department Correspondent Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.

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