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Detainee heading to California to face charges

NEW YORK (CNN) -- One of three San Diego college students brought to New York in connection with the investigation into last month's terrorist attacks is expected to head back to California to face immigration charges.

Mohdar Mohamed Al-Mohdar, 23, was charged this week with making a false statement on his political asylum application last year. He is also known as Mohdar Abdallah and court papers list other spellings and names.

At the request of the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz decided to send Al-Mohdar for prosecution where the violation allegedly occurred. It was not immediately clear when Al-Mohdar -- who is being held in Metropolitan Correctional Center -- would be transferred to California.

Al-Mohdar is the second member of the student trio picked up a month ago by the FBI and held as material witnesses to face criminal charges.

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Last week, Osama Awadallah, a 21-year-old Jordanian who is a permanent resident of the United States, was charged with two counts of lying to a grand jury about his knowledge of two suspected hijackers implicated in last month's terrorist attacks.

Two weeks ago, the third student, Yazeed Al-Salmi, a 23-year-old a Saudi national who is also a legal U.S. resident, was released last week after testifying twice before the grand jury

Randy Hamud, an attorney for Al-Mohdar, has said the students lived in San Diego for three years and knew two of the hijackers -- Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar -- only as casual acquaintances through a local mosque.

Al-Mohdar was admitted to the United States in December 1998 after obtaining a visitor's visa fro the U.S. consulate in Ottawa, Canada. On May 5, 2000, he applied for political asylum from Somalia, but an FBI search of his apartment last month found a personal identification card issued by Yemen, where Al-Mohdar was born in 1978.

"He never revealed to the INS that he was from Yemen, and that he was a firmly resettled student in Canada," says the criminal complaint against Al-Mohdar.

Hamud said he will apply for bail once Al-Mohdar returns to California.

"We deny the charges," Hamud said. "We look forward to our day in court," he said.


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