Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)
SEPT. 11 PROBE
Suspect flees to Egypt before raid
Hijackers' IDs linked to office
By Wayne Parry, Associated Press, 8/1/2002
PATERSON, N.J. - A man who allegedly sold fake identification to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers apparently fled the country for Egypt just before authorities raided his home and businesses yesterday, investigators said.
Interpol was notified to be on the lookout for Egyptian immigrant Mohamed el-Atriss, who faces charges of manufacturing and distributing fraudulent documents and conspiracy.
Atriss, 43, sold a fake ID card to Khalid Almihdhar, who was on the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon, and one to Abdulaziz Alomari, who was aboard one of the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center, Sheriff Jerry Speziale said.
FBI spokeswoman Sandra Carroll said investigators questioned Atriss after the Sept. 11 attacks and found no evidence he knew of the hijackers' plans.
Atriss, a naturalized US citizen, operated businesses in Paterson and Elizabeth, where he sold the identification cards, Speziale said. Authorities raided his home and business yesterday afternoon and were told that Atriss had taken a flight from Newark to Egypt, the sheriff said.
Inside the Paterson office, investigators found large rolls of plastic laminating sheets and backings used to make driver's licenses in several states. A sign outside the building identified it as a provider of international driver's licenses and ID cards; notary public, fax, and passport services; and a money transfer station.
Authorities said investigators have gathered 75 fake IDs that Atriss generated and sold for as much as $800 each. Authorities said that they believe he sold as many as 18 fake IDs per day and that his office also made counterfeit New Jersey license plates and auto title certificates.
Three employees at Atriss's stores - Clara Ortubia, 28; Yanelis Fabian, 32; and Elizabeth Valeria Pollero, 30 - were arrested during the raids on the same charges Atriss faces.
Five minutes before the raid, Atriss called the Paterson store and told employees he was in Egypt and would return to the United States in a few days, Speziale said.
Investigators were unsure whether the flight he took left on Tuesday or yesterday. Authorities last saw Atriss in New Jersey on Monday, investigators said.
This story ran on page A17 of the Boston Globe on 8/1/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.