RealNews

A Plea Deal, Then Freedom, in Terror Case

The young man walked into the second-floor offices of All Services Plus right at closing time, 4 p.m., on a Saturday. He came like hundreds of others before him, to get a fake identification card for $35. But this customer was particularly impatient. He was leaving the state, he said, and needed the ID soon. Four days later, he became enraged when the ID was not ready. When he finally received it the next day, he demanded that Mohamed el-Atriss, who runs All Services, give back his photograph and application. “You face it, sometimes, from a customer,” Mr. Atriss said. Mr. Atriss said he did not think again about the visit until a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, when an F.B.I. agent paid him a visit, explaining that the young man, Khalid Al-Midhar, and another to whom Mr. Atriss had sold a fake ID, Abdulaziz Alomari, had been among the 19 hijackers in the terror attacks. Since then, Mr. Atriss, 46, has had plenty of time to think about the matter. He spent nearly six months in the Passaic County jail while state prosecutors pressed charges related to the document sales and used secret evidence to raise his bail to $500,000, a sum usually reserved for murder suspects. Prosecutors have kept the evidence sealed, and had argued that release of the information had the potential to jeopardize national security. Full Story

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