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Nepali Man Arrested, Linked to Hijackers

Nepali Man Arrested, Linked to Hijackers

Author:
Publication: CNN News
Date: November 5, 2001
URL: http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/11/04/inv.ohare.arrest/index.html

Man arrested with knives, stun gun at O'Hare Security screeners fired after weapons' discovery

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A man was arrested Saturday night at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, when he tried to board a flight with nine knives, a can of Mace and a stun gun, police said.

The man may have some connection with two men who were detained Sept.12 in Texas as material witnesses in the investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, CNN has learned.

Police arrested Subash Gurung, 27, who said he was from Nepal, and charged him with unlawful possession of a weapon and attempting to board an aircraft with a weapon, both misdemeanor charges.

A security screener removed two knives from Gurung's pocket before he was allowed through the security checkpoint, said Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for Chicago's aviation department.

The other seven knives, the Mace and the stun gun were found in his carry-on luggage during a routine search before he boarded a United Airlines flight 1085 to Omaha, Nebraska, said Officer Thomas Donegan of the Chicago Police.

United Airlines immediately fired at least seven people, including security screeners and a supervisor after the weapons' discovery, Bond said.

In an interview with CNN affiliate WLS-TV in Chicago, Gurung said he was in a hurry and had carried the weapons in his bag by accident.

He said he was on his way to Omaha to visit friends and that he had bought the weapons in Chicago to protect himself. Gurung said he was unemployed, but then told the reporter he worked in a warehouse.

Police and FBI agents questioned Gurung, who was taken to a holding facility in suburban Chicago, fingerprinted and processed, then released on bond, Donegan said. He is to appear in court December 19.

CNN has learned that Gurung listed the same West Hollywood Avenue apartment address in Chicago as Ayub Ali Khan, a material witness in the September 11 attacks.

Khan and Mohamed Jaweed Azmath were arrested September 12 in Fort Worth, Texas, on an Amtrak train heading to San Antonio, Texas. Found in their possession were $5,500 cash, two flat box-cutter type knives and hair dye. Azmath also had copies of numerous passport photos.

The hijackers of the planes that crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were believed to have used box-cutters as weapons.

On the day of the attacks, Khan and Azmath were on a TWA flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Antonio. The flight was diverted to St. Louis, when the FAA closed the skies to commercial aircraft after the terrorist hijackings and attacks.

Khan and Azmath lived in Jersey City, New Jersey, but a records check by CNN also found a Chicago address for Khan sandwiched between two New Jersey addresses he'd used.

The Chicago address was the same apartment building as Gurung.

A government source told CNN that Khan never actually lived in the apartment in Chicago and never actually worked there.

But, the source said, "many phone calls were made to and from that apartment, and credit card bills were paid from that address."

Gurung's arrest also focused renewed attention on Argenbright Security Inc., the firm for which the fired employees worked. Argenbright reached a settlement in October with the Justice Department, admitting it had failed to complete court-ordered background checks on its employees.

That move followed by less than a year guilty pleas by three Argenbright managers who admitted breaking FAA rules. They allowed untrained employees -- some with criminal backgrounds -- to operate airport checkpoints, the managers said.

--CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report
 


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