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Arrested pilot may have been targeted as a recruit by al Qaeda

flight.school.arrest
Titusville flight school in North Carolina.  


APEX, North Carolina (CNN) -- The document that linked al Qaeda with a Tanzanian man arrested in North Carolina this week was a printout of a Web page from the U.S. flight school the man attended, government officials said Thursday.

Issaya Nombo obtained a U.S. airline transport pilot's license after training at a Florida flight school. The Web page printout, congratulating Nombo on earning the pilot's license, was found in an al Qaeda cave or safe house in Afghanistan.

But officials said they have found no immediate link between the man and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group or any other terror network. Investigators said, they believe he may have been targeted as a possible recruit.

The arrest marks the first time someone has been arrested based on material found in U.S. searches of Afghanistan caves.

ISSAYA NOMBO
Arrested April 15, 2002 on immigration charges  
Name was found on congratulatory letter in an Afghan cave  
Entered U.S. in May 2001 on valid visa that expired in August 2001  
No link established between Nombo and al Qaeda  
Not known where letter was found  
Authorities holding Nombo in undisclosed location  
 
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Nombo, who worked at a chain restaurant in North Carolina, was arrested Monday along with another Tanzanian citizen on immigration charges, officials said. Both men are being held by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in North Carolina.

Nombo is described as a Tanzanian national in his early 40s who is Roman Catholic. He is being held on immigration charges for overstaying his student visa. He entered the United States in May 2001 and the visa expired in August of that year, the sources said.

U.S. government officials also said Nombo is a fugitive on fraud charges in South Africa.

Nombo attended Voyager Aviation last year, an employee of the school told CNN. At the time, Voyager Aviation was located in Titusville, Florida, just miles from Kennedy Space Center. It has since merged with Merritt Island Air Service and is now located on Merritt Island.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Nombo achieved the highest level of training, qualifying him to "fly anything."

Authorities identified the second man as Chikele Gideon, who allegedly overstayed his visa. His visa was granted in July 2001 and expired in October.

Both men were arrested at the same undisclosed location, the sources said. In addition to the alleged visa violations, the men allegedly had counterfeit Social Security cards on them, the sources said.

Apex is a town of about 20,000 people in central North Carolina, just southwest of the state capital of Raleigh.

-- CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti and Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 



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