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Investigation: Global hunt traces leads, finances

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Attorney General John Ashcroft speaking at a recent news conference.  


In their search for sources of money used to fund terrorist groups, federal officials are using some of the same skills and knowledge they have employed for years to rein in drug dealers, smugglers, tax evaders and other lawbreakers.

Meanwhile, a San Diego college student who was charged in a criminal complaint two weeks ago with lying to a grand jury about his knowledge of two suspected September 11 hijackers has been indicted for the same offense.

And in a move that the U.S. government says will better prevent terrorists from entering the country, Attorney General John Ashcroft said authorities would conduct better background checks and improve coordination among law enforcement agencies.

Elsewhere, France's parliament has adopted tougher antiterrorism measures that give police the right to search cars and access private phone calls and e-mail.


Officials say the new Operation Green Quest -- a multi-agency effort led by the Customs Service -- will probe such areas as counterfeiting, credit card fraud, fraudulent import and export schemes, drug trafficking, cash smuggling and other activities that could be used by al Qaeda and other terrorist groups for financing their operations.

Investigators will use undercover operations, electronic surveillance, intelligence data and other resources to uncover underground financial systems, illicit charities and corrupt institutions that may be raising money for terrorists here at home and abroad. (Full story)

  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

Attack on America
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Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
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In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

Saudi officials say they have found 'no direct evidence' of financial support for terrorists. CNNfn's Allan Dodds Frank reports (October 31)

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A federal grand jury hearing evidence related to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon returned the indictment Wednesday against Osama Awadallah, according to Marvin Smilon, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White.

Awadallah, 21, a Jordanian who is a permanent resident of the United States, allegedly lied twice to the a grand jury about his knowledge of Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, whom the Justice Department has identified as two of the hijackers on board American Airlines Flight 77, which slammed into the Pentagon. (Full story)

At a Wednesday news conference, Ashcroft cited 46 groups that will be targeted by U.S. authorities, including many linked to al Qaeda, the network run by Osama bin Laden.

Ashcroft also announced new security measures for the issuance of non-immigrant visas. At times, he said, "security advisory opinions" and background investigations will be solicited in consultation with the State Department, the FBI and CIA before a visa is granted.

"America will not allow terrorists to use our hospitality as a weapon against us," he said.

Ashcroft also announced that Steven C. McCraw, an FBI agent, will head the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which will coordinate the work of several federal agencies to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the country, and tracking down and deporting those who get in. (Full story)

In Paris, the 13 antiterrorist measures approved by France strengthened laws that will allow police to search car boots, on the instructions of a prosecutor, in terrorist inquiries. Until now cars were off-limits to police.

The amendments also allow bag searching and body searches at places such as airports, stadiums and stores, and enable police to carry out nighttime searches in storage spaces and garages during preliminary investigations. Previously, they had to wait until 6 a.m.

The laws will be in force until the end of 2003. (Full story)


What tactics are being used to get people in custody to talk about any knowledge they may have of the September attacks?

What avenues are international investigators pursuing to trace the source of funding for the suspected hijackers? Click here for more.

What clues about the September 11 attacks have U.S. investigators learned from the hundreds of arrests made?

How will the expansion of law-enforcement powers affect Americans' civil liberties? Click here for more.

How long can suspects be held, and on what charges are they being held? Click here for more.

What groups are U.S. investigators focusing on, and what are their aims? Click here for more.


George W. Bush: U.S. president

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state Click here for more

Condoleezza Rice: National security adviser Click here for more

John Ashcroft: U.S. attorney general

Robert Mueller: FBI director Click here for more

George Tenet: CIA director. Click here for more

Osama bin Laden: U.S. authorities have named bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi exile living in Afghanistan, as the prime suspect in masterminding the September 11 attacks. Click here for more


Information gained from the investigation could lead to fundamental changes in U.S. security and intelligence systems, as well as surveillance laws.


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