Report: Terror links to Arizona man false

Feb. 20, 2003 at 10:28 PM

PHOENIX, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- An Iraqi man who was initially reported to be on the FBI's "watch list" of suspected terrorist associates was jailed Thursday after being arrested by police on an unrelated warrant, the Arizona Republic said.

Federal authorities later denied there were any connections between terrorist groups and Alidai Al-Hamdani, 27, who was picked up at his home Wednesday on a Maricopa County warrant for a probation violation and unlawful flight.

"There is no information to suggest that Al-Hamdani is tied to any terrorist organization," Pat Schneider, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Phoenix, told the Republic. "I think it's nothing more than a miscommunication."

Initial news reports on the arrest had noted that a Phoenix police detective assigned to an FBI fugitive task force, had described Al-Hamdani in court records as an "associate of foreign terrorist" groups who "moves from one location to another to avoid arrest."

An FBI official later said that while Al-Hamdani's name had been in a computer criminal database as a "person of interest," their concerns about him were satisfied during questioning following his arrest.

"Our concerns were resolved during that interview," Special Agent-in-Charge Charlene Thornton told the Republic. "I think it's safe to say he is no longer of investigative interest to us. ... The system worked."

Al-Hamdani was not available for comment as he remained in custody at the grim Maricopa County Jail on an unspecified probation violation. Al-Hamdani had been sentenced to three years probation after being arrested for leading police on a high-speed police pursuit last summer following an argument with his girlfriend.

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