Al Qaeda in Boston

I can’t find a follow-up story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the indictment of Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi in Minneapolis on Friday. For the follow-up we go to this morning’s Boston Globe: “FBI probes sleeper cell possibility.” The Globe reports:

The Boston office of the FBI is investigating whether a former local cabdriver indicted Friday on charges of lying about ties to a suspected terrorist may have been part of a “sleeper cell” in the Boston area supporting Al Qaeda terrorist activities and whether he may have connections to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in Washington and New York.

Lacking in yesterday’s Star Tribune story was the obligatory testimony to the character of the accused, but the Globe has supplied it today:

Elzahabi, Masoud recalled, was quiet and hard-working, and when he left Boston Cab Co. in 1998, Elzahabi asked Masoud if he could lease Masoud’s cab when he wasn’t driving it. Masoud, who drove nights, agreed, and for six months Elzahabi drove Masoud’s cab during the day, handing it back to him at night. They also lived together for five or six months, sharing an apartment above Angelina’s Submarine Sandwich shop in Everett until Elzahabi left the area.
Masoud said he has not seen or heard from Elzahabi since Elzahabi moved out and did not know he had been arrested by the FBI. “I’m surprised. I don’t understand,” he said. “Why would he lie to the FBI?” Asked whether he thought Elzahabi could be involved in terrorist activities, Masoud said: “Not really. No.”

Amazingly enough, both the Star Tribune and the Globe have reported the stories on possible local ties to al Qaeda without a single allusion to the threat to liberty posed by John Ashcroft.

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