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13 chinese boston terrorist anonymous tipper not credible { January 23 2005 }

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Doubt cast over tip on terror plot
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff | January 23, 2005

An anonymous tipster's claim that 16 people, including 13 Chinese nationals, were involved in a terror plot to attack Boston last week was seriously undermined yesterday as the FBI reported that one of the group has been in custody in San Diego since November and doesn't seem to have any terrorist ties.

The FBI announced on its website yesterday that Mei Xia Dong, 21, paid an undisclosed amount of money to smugglers who helped her sneak into the United States from Mexico and it appears her motives for entering the country ''may have been for economic reasons."

The FBI reported that Dong has been in a US Customs and Border Protection detention facility in San Diego since her arrest on Nov. 11 on an immigration violation.

''The investigation thus far does not tie her to any terrorist group," the FBI wrote on its website, adding, ''Again, we want to stress to everyone that at this time the threat information is uncorroborated and of unknown reliability."

The FBI did not reveal any other details of the investigation, including whether they have identified or questioned the anonymous source.

US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said yesterday's developments suggest that if any of the other people being sought are in the country, then they may be here for economic reasons, as well, and have no links to terrorism.

Governor Mitt Romney, speaking with reporters yesterday afternoon, said ''good progress" is being made against reported terrorist threats.

''The threat . . . is being apparently resolved favorably," Romney said at a press conference mostly focused on last night's major snowstorm. ''We have a growing degree of confidence that we're getting on top of this and appreciation to the FBI for the work they have done."

Romney added, ''We are making good progress and, as a result of that, I think we have increasing confidence that the biggest concern we have right now is the snowfall and the cold."

On Wednesday, the FBI and Sullivan's office released the names and photos of four Chinese nationals -- Zengrong Lin, Wen Quin Zheng, Xiugin Chen, and Guozhi Lin -- who are being sought for questioning after they were identified by the anonymous caller from Mexico as terrorists who were en route to Boston, via New York, and had plans to obtain nuclear material.

The next day, the FBI announced that authorities wanted to question another 10 people, including Dong, in connection with the alleged plot.

Although the threat had placed the city on alert for a possible terrorist attack, Romney and Mayor Thomas M. Menino urged the public not to panic because the information had come from an anonymous source and was not corroborated.

Law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether the tipster had labeled the group as terrorists to exact revenge after being cheated in a human-smuggling or drug-smuggling operation.

The tipster called the California Highway Patrol from Mexico Monday night and said he had helped smuggle four Chinese nationals and two unidentified Iraqis into the United States and that they were expected to arrive in Boston, via New York, in four days, according to law enforcement officials.

The caller said that ''nuclear oxide" or ''nuclear fiber" was going to be smuggled to the group through a tunnel system in Mexico into Southern California, officials said.

The unidentified caller directed police to a package he had tossed over a border fence into California that contained visas that had been issued to three of the Chinese nationals by the Mexican embassy in Beijing and a Chinese identity card for the fourth, officials said.

The package also contained airline ticket stubs and baggage claim tickets, which included the names of the other nine Chinese nationals and a 10th person, Jose Ernesto Beltran Quinones.

The FBI said yesterday that it remains interested in information on the remaining people named by the tipster: Yu Xian Weng, Quinguan Lin, Liqiang Liang, Min Xiu Xie, Xiang Wei Liu, Xiuming Chen, Cheng Yin Liu, and Zao Yun Wang.

They urged anyone with information to call the FBI's Boston office at 617-742-5533.

Sullivan said he didn't want to speculate on what may have motivated the anonymous tipster.

But he said, ''I suspect over the next several days with the effort the FBI and others have been putting in this investigation, we'll be able to put all the pieces together and report back exactly who these people are and, if they are in the country, the circumstances in which they got into the country."

But he added, ''There's nothing that's been developed since the report that should raise any concern on the part of the American public."

Shelley Murphy can be reached at Globe correspondent Michael Busack contributed to this report.

Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

13 chinese boston terrorist anonymous tipper not credible { January 23 2005 }
Chinese in boston sought for non existant terror plot { January 20 2005 }
FBI says boston threat a false alarm
Mexican admits terror tip was hoax { January 26 2005 }
Plane forced down with suspicious of chinese dirty bomb

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