NZ deports '9/11 linked man'
(CNN) -- New Zealand has deported a Yemeni man it says was "directly associated" with one of the September 11 hijackers in the United States.
Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali was deported to Saudi Arabia on May 30, one day after his arrest, because he posed a security threat, Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said in a statement on the department's Web site Saturday.
According to a U.S. investigation, Rayed Abdullah lived and trained with Hani Hanjour, who piloted American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
He was training as a pilot while in New Zealand and had previously taken flying lessons in the United States, Cunliffe said.
He was, Cunliffe said, a leader at the Islamic Cultural Center in the Phoenix area of Arizona.
"The government considered that the man's continued presence in New Zealand posed a threat to national security because he was directly associated with persons responsible for the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001," according to Cunliffe.
Cunliffe told Radio Live New Zealand he was confident Rayed Abdullah was "detected expeditiously" and that the people of New Zealand were at no time in danger.
"We don't have any specific information that he was a terrorist. We know that he was associated with terrorists," he said, adding that his "activities in New Zealand" warranted the deportation.
Rayed Abdullah arrived in New Zealand in February under a variation of his name.
"Once his real identity became known, he was identified as having close connections to people involved with the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, and had been named in the 9/11 Commission Report," the immigration official said.
|© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.