FBI arrests 11th bomb plot suspect

July 24, 1993|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- An Egyptian welder suspected as a major conspirator in the foiled plot to bomb four targets in New York City was surprised at a barbecue in a New Jersey seaside motel Thursday night and arrested while trying to flee with an 11-year-old boy he had grabbed, federal officials said yesterday.

The man, Matarawy Mohammad Said Saleh, 44, became the 11th suspect seized in what authorities have charged was a conspiracy by Muslim militants to explode bombs in the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the United Nations and the Federal Building, which houses the FBI. A second man accused of hiding Mr. Saleh was also arrested.

A federal complaint said that Mr. Saleh had discussed ways of getting cars for the bombings without being detected, and that he had been with other suspects in a Queens bomb factory -- being bugged by the FBI -- within a day of a June 24 raid, which prosecutors say smashed the scheme.

Mr. Saleh was tackled by a member of an FBI team that had infiltrated the Sea Wolf Inn in North Wildwood, N.J., on a strip of motels and guest houses, according to officials and witnesses.

The snatched child, who was not identified but was described as a member of Mr. Saleh's party, was not hurt, said James Esposito,the FBI agent in charge of the Newark office. Mr. Saleh's lawyer later said in court that Mr. Saleh had suffered "bruises, abrasions and contusions" in the arrest.

Mr. Saleh appeared in federal court in Camden, N.J., yesterday.

Through his lawyer, he offered no objection to extradition to New York City but otherwise made no statement. He was held without bail pending a hearing, which is expected next week in Manhattan.

The man arrested with him, Ashraf Mohammed, 31, of Jersey City, was ordered held until a bail hearing next week. He was charged with knowingly concealing Mr. Saleh from arrest, but FBI officials said he was not considered a suspect in the bombing plot.

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