N.J. man charged with helping hijackers get IDs
NEWARK, New Jersey (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors charged a Jordanian man with participating in a fake ID ring that helped several September 11 hijackers obtain bogus driver's licenses and identification cards, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Abdel Rahman Omar Tawfiq Alfauru made an initial appearance before a federal judge Wednesday afternoon in Newark. A criminal complaint links Alfauru with Hani Hanjour, who is suspected of flying American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11, and two other hijackers.
Alfauru is accused of obtaining a driver's license and another state ID card using the same Virginia address as Hanjour.
"He obtained illegal identification using the same address as several of the people who participated in the hijackings and the murders on September 11, and was helped by a person who also has been known to have helped those hijackers," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said.
Prosecutors said Alfauru has been living illegally in the United States, in the New Jersey cities of Clifton and Paterson. At least four hijackers lived in Paterson last year.
To obtain a Virginia driver's license, a person must show proof of residency and two forms of identification. Before September 11, applicants lacking such proof could submit two notarized forms -- an identity affidavit swearing to one's name, address, and basic biographical information; and another form, sworn by a Virginia resident, certifying the applicant's residence in Virginia.
Since the terrorist attacks, Virginia has changed its law and no longer allows the notarized forms as a substitute for official documentation.
Hanjour obtained his Virginia identification card at the Springfield, Virginia, Department of Motor Vehicle's office on August 1 after submitting the two required forms listing a Falls Church, Virginia, address.
The address did not belong to Hanjour; it belonged to Louis Martinez-Flores and 14 other men. The same address was also used by two other hijackers, Khalid Almidhar and Majed Moqed, in obtaining their ID cards.
Martinez-Flores has admitted fraudulently certifying the Hanjour form, as well as the form for Almidhar, who obtained a Virginia ID at the same location on the same date.
Hanjour presented his Virginia driver's license when he purchased his plane ticket on August 31 from a New Jersey travel agent.
Alfauru also obtained a Virginia ID card using the same Falls Church address, and later obtained a Virginia driver's license using a post office box in Alexandria, Virginia, as his address. He was in possession of the Virginia drivers license and ID card when he was interviewed by the FBI on October 1. He told agents he paid $600 for the identification.
Agents found Alfauru after earlier questioning a Virginia man who, authorities say, ran the fake ID ring. That man came forward to the authorities after seeing published photos of the suspected hijackers after September 11.
Alfauru told agents that he had worked at a Mobil gas station in Clifton, New Jersey, and admitted entering the United States without proper documents, according to the affidavit.
Four individuals, including Martinez-Flores, have pleaded guilty in Virginia to document fraud related to the September 11 hijackers.
The complaint against Alfauru -- for unlawfully producing an identification document -- originally was filed February 8 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.
-- CNN's Phil Hirschkorn, Evan Pressman, and Terry Frieden contributed to this report.
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