Skip to comments.Feds fear license examiner is dead - Memphis Woman's co-defendants tied to 9/11, judge told
Posted on 02/11/2002 10:19:36 PM PST by Shermy
A missing Tennessee driver's license examiner charged with conspiring to provide licenses fraudulently was probably the victim of a "most unusual and suspicious" death, a federal prosecutor said Monday.
Asst. U.S. Atty. Tim Di Scenza also raised the possibility in court that Katherine Smith's five codefendants are involved in terrorism against the United States, citing "connections" to Sept. 11 and the World Trade Center.
A defense attorney, however, protested that the only reason the prosecutor raised the issue of terrorism is that the defendants are from the Middle East.
DiScenza told the court that the same car Smith drove when she was arrested Feb. 5 crashed in Fayette County east of Collierville early Sunday.
Although the gas tank did not explode and the car was only slightly dented from impact with a pole, a fire burned the person inside beyond recognition, FBI agent J. Suzanne Nash testified Monday.
The body had not been identified late Monday, but DiScenza told U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo that there was a "great possibility" it was Smith. While authorities have not determined if foul play was involved in Smith's disappearance, Vescovo described the revelations as "upsetting and disturbing."
Nash testified she was called about the wreck at 1 a.m. Sunday. Smith's family told authorities she'd been missing since Saturday night.
Smith was to have appeared Monday for a detention and probable cause hearing in the conspiracy case against her and Khaled Odtllah, 31, of Shelby County; Sakhera Hammad, 24, of New York City, and Mohammed Fares, Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin and Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad, for whom ages and addresses were unavailable.
Smith had been free on bond since Feb. 5. The other five defendants have been detained since their arrest the same day.
The specter of terrorism and Sept. 11 emerged in Monday's hearing when DiScenza asked Nash if documents seized from the suspects had been examined.
She responded that a visitor's pass for the World Trade Center, dated Sept. 5, 2001, was found in Sakhera Hammad's wallet. Hammad told authorities he was a plumber and worked on the center's sprinkler system, Nash said. She also said that Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad and Sakhera Hammad said they were cousins, and worked together in the plumbing business.
Nash also testified that Odtllah drove back from New York City to Memphis on Sept. 11.
But Anthony Helm, attorney for Odtllah, asked Nash, "You certainly don't have any indication any of these fellows is a terrorist, do you?"
"Not at this time, no sir," Nash responded. Helm also argued that Odtllah has many relatives in New York City, suggesting it wouldn't be unusual for him to travel there.
Vescovo continued the hearing until Wednesday for three of the defendants, Abou-Shanin, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad and Fares, primarily to arrange for an Arabic interpreter. The men told the FBI they are in the country illegally. She went ahead with the hearing for Odtllah and Sakhera Hammad.
Nash testified that Odtllah and Sakhera Hammad led the driver's license scheme. She said Odtllah made the arrangements with his friend Smith, and that Hammad drove the people who bought the fraudulent licenses from New York. She said that Odtllah received $1,000 per license, and that Hammad would receive any amount paid over $1,000.
After two hours of testimony and arguments, Vescovo ordered each man held without bond until their trial. During the hearing, Di Scenza and Nash revealed details of the government's case against the six defendants.
Smith had told authorities after her arrest that Odtllah, who goes by the nickname "Kal," was a friend, and that he had asked her to help him obtain driver's licenses six or seven times before.
Odtllah has lived in Shelby County two and a half years. Until a few months ago, he owned a Phillips 66 gas station. He also buys and sells cars. Nash testified that Smith had said she was buying from Odtllah the champagne-colored 1992 Acura that crashed early Sunday.
Nash testified that Smith had assigned four driver's license numbers in the station's computer system using forms filled out by Odtllah. But only Fares's license showed his correct name. The other three applications contained fictitious and "totally untraceable" names, DiScenza said.
"Those kind of IDs are for further criminal activities," DiScenza said.
Nash said Sakhera Hammad told her he came to Tennessee to get driver's licenses only to help people have identification so they can get jobs.
Sakhera Hammad is from Jordan, but has become a U.S. citizen, said his father, Peter Hansen of New York, who attended the hearing.
Odtllah came to the United States from Jerusalem 13 years ago, Helm said. Nash said Abou-Shahin told authorities he was from Egypt and is a carpenter.
Fares has a Venezuelan passport, but speaks Arabic, DiScenza said.
DiScenza said a key question is whether the alleged license conspiracy had a purpose greater than obtaining driver's licenses so illegal immigrants could find work. Do the circumstances in the case connect the alleged conspiracy to the World Trade Center terrorism, he asked rhetorically.
"Of course not," DiScenza said. "But, you can only have so many coincidences."
Helm argued that the case is not "connected to anything else in the world." He said prosecutors are making the terrorism implications only because the defendants are from the Middle East.
Vescovo said the "completely untraceable" licenses were a great concern to the court. "What further concerns me greatly is that Ms. Smith's vehicle has been burned and a body is inside," she said.
While no testimony Monday links Odtllah or Sakhera Hammad to Smith's disappearance, Vescovo said, "She is connected to the case against them."
- Tom Bailey Jr.: 529-2388
Good point. I'm not anywhere near ready to put the tinfoil hat on and say China was behind this.
I will say I'm very concerned that we're making the same mistake with China that we did the Arabs. Ignoring their presence and placing a low priority on intelligence assets to a potential threat.
As far as infiltration of our society goes, the Chinese make the Arabs look like pikers.
>>>.Anis Siddiqy, 24, a cab driver from New York City, said his brother, Asad R. Siddiqy, 27, and an acquaintance, Mohammed Chafi , were in Oklahoma City seeking immigration documents for an emergency return to their Mideast homeland when they were arrested Wednesday.<<<<<<
I will say that I do believe China knew about this attack and made sure their comrades were out of harm's way. We do know that other attacks were planned but didn't happen on 9-11.
Yep. Here's one of the threads on it:
Division of Natural Science, Math, and Computer Science
807 Walker Avenue
Memphis, TN 38126
On an unrelated matter, Muhammad Shafi is listed as a "Major Voice in Islam and Science" on the Center for Islam and Science website. My impression is that this website is a little out of the mainsteam. From the website:
Realizing the importance of these resources for science and religion discourse in general and for Islam and science in particular, the Center for Islam and Science (CIS) has embarked upon a major undertaking: CIS plans to complete the first phase of its project on the development of web-based resources on Islam and science. The new resources are accessible at www.cis-ca.org and the site is being updated on a weekly basis; the deadline for the completion of the first phase of this two-year project is December 31, 2001. The whole project will be completed by December 31, 2002
How did this scam come to light in the first place? The story doesn't say.
I noticed no mention of a family for Smith. I'd bet she was a greedy, lonely, spinster who thought those Arab boys were good looking. She probably fantasized she was involved in some intrigue. As it turned out, she flubbed it,( the discovery of the fake lincenses) and was rubbed out by the ruthless bastards. Are there any pictures of the perps and the traitor, Ms. Smith?
Memphis police Lt. Joe Scott said the body, carrying a wallet with the identification of Don C. Wiley, was found Thursday in the river in Vidalia, La. Wiley was last seen in Memphis more than a month ago. Workers with the Louisiana Hydroelectric Plant discovered the body about 12:30 p.m. snagged on a tree, police said. The plant, 300 miles south of Memphis, sits on the river as does the city of Memphis.
The body was being returned to Memphis Thursday night for the autopsy. Positive identification also will be made today.
Wiley, 57, has been missing since Nov. 16 when his rented white Mitsubishi Galant was discovered on the Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River in Memphis about 4 a.m. The keys were still in the ignition, the hazard lights were not turned on and the gas tank was full.
Wiley, a molecular biologist, was in Memphis for a two-day annual meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital of Memphis. The board, composed of 15 physicians and scientists, evaluates the hospital's programs through discussions with faculty members.
Police considered the matter a missing persons case and had said it might have been a suicide.
"As soon as the body gets in our morgue the medical examiner will begin the autopsy to help answer a lot of questions," Memphis Police Director Walter Crews told a news conference.
Wiley was last seen Nov. 15 between 11:30 p.m. and midnight at a St. Jude's dinner at the downtown Peabody Hotel, about a 15-minute drive from the bridge.
Wiley had done research into a number of potentially deadly viruses, including Ebola. Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever that causes body fluids to seep from tissues and orifices. The virus is highly contagious and lethal, and there is no vaccine.
Scientific organizations, such as St. Jude and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md., posted rewards for information leading to the "arrest and charge" of anyone responsible for the disappearance of Wiley. The rewards totaled $26,000.
Harvard President Lawrence Summers issued a statement Thursday night saying Wiley "was a brilliant biologist and a greatly admired member of this commmunity, and his loss leaves a tremendous void."
A colleague at St. Jude is trying to be optimistic.
"We're holding out any and all hope that this is not Don, but we are going to wait until the authorities make some decision," said hospital deputy director Dr. William Evans. "We are all quite devastated by the possibility Don's not going to be with us any more."
Evans found it hard to believe Wiley took his life.
Indhold Forrige Næste
List of People met, July 1996.
MR. R. Beltran, Director, Office of the Director-General Mr. W.H. Holaday, Chief, Programme + Project Review Committee Secretariat Mr. O. Gonzales-Hernandez, Head, Evaluation Branch
Mr. J. Navrátil, Senior Evaluation Officer
Dr. Z. Csizer, Director, Chemical Industries Branch
Mr. M. Rigola, Head, Environment and Energy Branch
Dr. B. Sugavanam, Chief, Agro-Chemical Industries Unit
Dr. Yong-Hwa Kim, Environmental Toxicologist, Industrial Development Officer
Dr. M. Abtahi, Senior Industrial Development Officer
Dr. Ghulam Mustafa, Head Entomology Section
Mr. Mohammad Siddique Hamdard, Agricultural Chemist Mr. Sajjud Ahmad, Entomologist
Department of Plant Protection, Karachi
Dr. Muhammad Shafi, Plant Protection Adviser & Director General
I remember reading (in Time Magazine, I think)that there was a great deal of water in the stair wells (from sprinklers and broken pipes) in Tower One, which made it rough going for people trying to escape. I just put it down to the waterpipes being torn apart by the planes. Don't remember hearing the same about Tower Two, though. And disabling the sprinkler system on the higher floors would ensure a very hot fire, but again, the planes probably took care of the sprinkler system very well on their own. Disabling it ahead of time, if it was done, would have been as a fail-safe in case the planes didn't do the expected damage.
And the guy leaves New York on Sept. 11. Very interesting.
A later article had it that investigators were ruling it an accident, not a suicide (he accidently fell over a reportedly 5 foot restraining wall). I don't know where the story stands today.
By ruling it an accident, his wife has a better shot at collecting the life insurance that she is due. She still won't have the peace of mind that her husband's death has been fully investigated.
A Memphis woman allegedly at the center of a scheme to sell fraudulent Tennessee driver's licenses has been identified as the person whose burned body was found early Sunday in the wreckage of a car in Fayette County, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Lt. Col. Mark Fagan said Katherine Smith was identified by the Shelby County Medical Examiner's office through dental records. The office also found "evidence of smoke inhalation," Fagan said. This indicates Smith was alive when her car left the road, crossed a ditch and ran into a utility pole.
Smith and five men with ties to the Mid-East were charged last Wednesday in a federal complaint with conspiracy to obtain fraudulent identification documents.
Smith was free pending a detention hearing Monday in federal Magistrate Court. Her five codefendants have been held without bond since their arrests last Wednesday.
Federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza told U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo on Monday that Smith's death was "most unusual and suspicious."
He also said two of her five codefendants had "connections" to the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Wa-Alailkum Assalam Br. Majed Ramadan Mubarak.
You have given us a VERY GOOD MESSAGe, Allah (swt) may reward you for you good thoughts and deeds. We miss you and pray to see you soon, Insha-Allah.
--- Majed Al-Jeraisy wrote:
> My dearest brothers:
> As'salam alaikum wa rahamtu allah wa barakatuh, how>br> > are you all doing? I
> hope this e.mail finds you in a good health, faith,
> and wealth.
> > ..........................................
> I ask Allah SWT to accept all our good deeds and
> give us the guidance to the
> good, and bring the unity to this ummah, May Allah give the victory to our brothers in Afghanistan,
Palestine, Chechnya and all part of the worlds and gather us in the paradise.. ameen...
> > This a good site to visit about Ramadan
> wa'ssalam alaikum
> Your Brother/ Majed Al-Jeraisy
This is an email from Dr. Muhammad Shafi, a professor at a college in Memphis. I can not believe we permit people with these views teach in our colleges.
Dr. Muhammad Shafi
Division of Natural Science, Math, and Computer Science
807 Walker Avenue
Memphis, TN 38126
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