Pilot with 9/11 links deported from New Zealand

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Yemeni man linked to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States has been deported from New Zealand, only the second time that Section 72 of the Immigration Act is used to deport someone. Consent of the Governor-General was required and there is no right of appeal.

Rayed Abdullah, a United States-qualified pilot, arrived in New Zealand in February under a variation of his name.

Immigration Minister David Cunliffe says “The government considered that the man's continued presence in New Zealand posed a threat to national security because he was directly associated with persons responsible for the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001,"

"We don't have any specific information that he was a terrorist. We know that he was associated with terrorists," he said, adding that his "activities in New Zealand" warranted the deportation. Once his real identity became known, he was identified as having close connections to people involved with the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, and had been named in the 9/11 Commission Report,"

"Initially, he lived in Auckland where he undertook some English language training, the stated purpose of his visit. He then shifted to Palmerston North where he was building up his flying hours flying with an instructor – he'd previously trained as a pilot in the United States."

"With immigration officials, police arrested the man in Palmerston North on Monday, 29 May, and he was deported to Saudi Arabia the next day."

"For security reasons, I cannot comment further. I am advised; however, that at no point was there any specific risk to New Zealanders during the man's time in this country."

The US Government's 9/11 Commission Report says that Abdullah lived and trained in Phoenix, Arizona with Hani Hanjour, the Saudi Arabian believed to have piloted Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Abdullah was a leader at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Phoenix where, the FBI says, he "reportedly gave extremist speeches at the mosque".

The report also said another associate of Hanjour, Faisal al Salmi, had flight training with Rayed Abdullah but wanted to keep his training secret.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said al-Salmi was deceptive when he was asked if he had taken flight training at the behest of an organisation.

Section 72 of the Immigration Act 1987 provides that where the Immigration Minister certifies that the continued presence in New Zealand of a person constitutes a threat to national security, the Governor-General may, by order in council, order that person's deportation.

Sources


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.


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