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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 10/26/2001 2:30:02 AM EST
Business-class suspect caught in container BY RICHARD OWEN IN ROME AND DANIEL MCGRORY ITALIAN police were investigating last night why a suspected al-Qaeda hijacker would smuggle himself halfway around the world locked inside a shipping container with its own bed and toilet. The bizarre discovery of an Egyptian carrying a Canadian passport was made on the dockside in Gioia Tauro in southern Italy, where detectives believe they may have foiled another hijacking. They were questioning Rizik Amid Farid, 43, about his choice of travel and why he was carrying airport maps and airside security passes for Canada, Thailand and Egypt. Unlike most stowaways they find, Mr Farid was smartly dressed, clean-shaven and rested as he stepped from his makeshift home. He was, his captors said, “stunned” to be found with a laptop computer, two mobile phones, cameras, a Canadian passport, other identity documents and a certificate saying he is an aircraft mechanic. Mr Farid was found last week but it was only yesterday that police admitted their curious discovery. Roberto Di Palma, a prosecutor, said: “He was in possession of documents and apparatus that no ordinary illegal immigrant would have been able to afford. The average illegal immigrant does not have high-tech equipment and airport security passes. The FBI has been alerted to the discovery of Mr Farid. Like the 19 hijackers that al-Qaeda used on September 11, Mr Farid’s name is not on Interpol’s wanted list. The successful capture of this suspected hijacker is timely for the Italians after the admission that they had allowed nine Islamic militants to abscond from bail after a legal bungle. Police said Mr Farid was finding it difficult to explain why he was carrying a return airline ticket from Montreal to Egypt, via Rome. Investigators said that could be an “insurance policy” enabling him to reach Canada by air in case he was discovered on the ship but managed to escape. The priority now, police said, was to authenticate his identity and discover why he was heading for Canada. Had he not been found during a security check, Mr Farid would have faced another three weeks at sea to reach Toronto. Mr Farid was discovered during a “technical inspection” of a ship from Port Said that had docked at the container port of Gioia Tauro. The container in which Mr Farid had been hidden was “very tidy and well appointed”, investigators said. It was furnished with supplies for a long journey and had a bucket which he used as a toilet. Magistrates said they were considering a charge of “links with international terrorism”, a new offence introduced last week as part of an emergency anti-terrorism package passed by Parliament after the attacks of September 11. Il Messaggero, the Rome daily, said it was a “reasonable inference” that his intention had been to gain admittance to an airport in Canada and perhaps commandeer an aircraft with the help of accomplices and fly it over the border to the United States. Michele Filippo Italiano, Mr Farid’s lawyer, denied that. He said Mr Farid lived in Montreal and had Canadian citizenship. “He had fallen out with his brother-in-law in Cairo and feared he would be prevented from leaving Egypt,” he said.
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