Eyad Alrababah is a Jordanian citizen best known for helping 9-11 hijackers settle in the United States -- which he described as casual enough acquaintanceships he never suspected them of ties to terrorism.
Alrababah described meeting the men at his mosque, inviting them home, for tea, where they did not trigger his suspicions. Later, when he recognized their pictures, following al Qaeda's attack on 9-11, he said he came forward to security officials, in case he could offer background information. Alrababah then found himself taken into custody, and spending months in solitary confinement.
The 9-11 Commission, drafted years after the attack, when Anwar Al-awlaki, the imam of the mosque had defected to Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, said it was likely that Al-awlaki had directed Alrababah to help the hi-jackers. Some commentators and legislators continued to call for his case to be further investigated.
Alrababah's conviction for identity fraud
Alrababah voluntarily came forward to tell the Federal Bureau of Investigation about what he knew about the hijackers on September 29, 2001. Alrababah had been asked to help two men who had recently arrived in the area to get settled. It is now widely believed he was asked to help by the imam of his mosque, Anwar al-Awlaki, who did not himself trigger suspicion for almost half a decade. Al Rababah described meeting Hanji and N, inviting them to his home, and helping them find an apartment.
Although Alrababah did not acknowledge helping any 9-11 hijackers obtain identity documents, he had a misdemeanor conviction, from 2000, for helping other men obtain Virginia identity documents without first establishing a permanent home in Virginia.
The Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News described the technique as "exploiting a loophole, now closed". Individuals were renting mail boxes, in Virginia, then swearing affadavits before notary publics, asserting that these were the addresses off their Virginia homes. Alrababah acknowledged telling at least fifty men about this loophole, and several 9-11 hijackers did use this loophole to obtain Virginia drivers' licenses.
For the first three months Alrababah was in police custody no charges were laid against him. He was held as a material witness, and interrogated about what he knew about al Qaeda plans and operations. He continued to assert that he never had any idea that the hijackers he met had any association with terrorism.
He was charged in December 2001, and those charges were made public on February 28, 2002.
Alrababah was convicted of playing a role in identity theft. He was finally deported back to Jordan in 2003.
Comparison with Daoud Chehazeh
Alrababah's room-mate, Daoud Chehazeh, a Syrian, also a member of al-Awlaki's mosque, shared in hosting Hani and Nawfi. Scott Shane, in Objective Troy, noted that Alrababah, who cooperated, was convicted and deported, while Chezazeh, who did not cooperate with authorities, was, nevertheless, granted political asylum.
Catherine Herridge, in The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda's American Recruits, characterized Alrababah as Chehazeh's "helper".
- Brooke A. Masters (2002-05-07). "Witness recounts time with hijackers: Unwitting cohort jailed when he goes to FBI after attack". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20160806023130/http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-05-07/news/0205070218_1_time-in-northern-virginia-hijackers-hani-hanjour. Retrieved 2018-06-26. "Four months later, he caught another glimpse of them. The FBI had just released the photographs of the 19 suspected Sept. 11 hijackers. His erstwhile companions had been aboard American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. 'I felt my hair standing up. I .. called my boss and said, "I have to go to the FBI,"' Alrababah said in an interview in the Alexandria, Va., jail."
- Pamela K. Browne, Catherine Herridge (2013-03-24). "Exclusive: Syrian with ties to 9/11 hijackers still in US, virtually immune from deportation". Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/24/exclusive-syrian-with-ties-to-11-hijackers-still-in-us-virtually-immune-from.html. Retrieved 2018-06-26. "But others suspected of 9/11 connections faced very different outcomes. Rababah was deported to Jordan in 2003. And al-Awlaki was killed by drone in Yemen in 2011."
- Greg B. Smith (2002-02-28). "FBI: 2 AIDED HIJACKERS Charged with faking driver's licenses for 9/11 terrorists". New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/fbi-2-aided-hijackers-charged-faking-driver-licenses-9-11-terrorists-article-1.479658. Retrieved 2018-06-26. "Neither Alrababah nor Alfauru admitted helping the hijackers illegally obtain Virginia licenses. But court documents show that Alrababah told the FBI he helped get Virginia driver's licenses for at least 50 Arabic-speaking immigrants, often using a bogus street address in Falls Church, Va. Federal law enforcement officials said six of the 19 hijackers, including Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar, Majed Moqed and Salem Alhazmi, used the same address to get fake licenses."
- Susan Schmidt (2008-02-26). "Imam From Va. Mosque Now Thought to Have Aided Al-Qaeda". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2011-01-31. https://web.archive.org/web/20110131234354/http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/26/AR2008022603267_pf.html. Retrieved 2018-06-26. "'Some [FBI] agents suspect that Aulaqi may have tasked Rababah to help Hazmi and Hanjour. We share that suspicion, given the remarkable coincidence of Aulaqi's prior relationship with Hazmi,' the 9/11 Commission concluded. Further, the phone number for Dar al-Hijrah had been found in the Hamburg apartment of one of the planners of the attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh."
- Scott Shane (2016). Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone. Tim Duggan Books. p. 110. ISBN 9780804140317. https://books.google.ca/books?id=MdbVDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA110&lpg=PA110&dq=Daoud+Chehazeh&source=bl&ots=m1V5F0JpYT&sig=L0b_d7T6PUQyM5C9DrpS8VhkxF8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwixrMSOlvLbAhUM4IMKHUvVD6QQ6AEwGHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Daoud%20Chehazeh&f=false. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
- Catherine Herridge (2011). The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda's American Recruits. Crown Publishing Group. p. 12. ISBN 9780307885272. https://books.google.ca/books?id=eZZRvco9Po8C&dq=Daoud+Chehazeh. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
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- Paul Sperry (2008). "Eyad+Alrababah"+OR+"eyad+al+rababah"+OR+"eyad+el+rababah"&source=bl&ots=3IC80X1E0v&sig=BwBmgr7VnymTXm4GS4cpjrpMO-I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjAvKXK8PHbAhVEsFQKHf9aA5UQ6AEwFXoECAwQAQ#v=onepage&q="Eyad%20Alrababah"%20OR%20"eyad%20al%20rababah"%20OR%20"eyad%20el%20rababah"&f=false Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated Washington. Thomas Nelson Publishing. ISBN 9781418508425. https://books.google.ca/books?id=Dw1mHo6zjKwC&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq="Eyad+Alrababah"+OR+"eyad+al+rababah"+OR+"eyad+el+rababah"&source=bl&ots=3IC80X1E0v&sig=BwBmgr7VnymTXm4GS4cpjrpMO-I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjAvKXK8PHbAhVEsFQKHf9aA5UQ6AEwFXoECAwQAQ#v=onepage&q="Eyad%20Alrababah"%20OR%20"eyad%20al%20rababah"%20OR%20"eyad%20el%20rababah"&f=false.
- David Cole (2008). "No Reason to Believe: Radical Skepticism, Emergency Power, and Constitutional Constraint". University of Chicago Law Review: 1340. http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1440&context=facpub. Retrieved 2018-07-11. "For example, Eyad Airababah was held for six weeks as a material witness after he voluntarily approached the FBI to tell them that he had had casual contacts with several of the hijackers. John Riley, Held without Charge; Material Witness Law Puts Detainees in Legal Limbo, Newsday A06 (Sept 18,2002) (reporting that Alrababah was eventually deported).".
- Anjana Malhotra (2004). "Overlooking innocence: Refashioning the material witness law to indefinitely detain muslims without charges". International Civil Liberties Report. Archived from the original on 2004-12-14. https://web.archive.org/web/20041214110632/http://www.aclu.org/iclr/malhotra.pdf. Retrieved 2018-07-11. "In fact, the government immediately detained material witness Eyad Alrababah after he voluntarily went to the FBI office in Bridgeport, Connecticut on September 29, 2001 to inform authorities that he had recognized four of the alleged hijackers whose pictures were shown
- Anjana Malhotra (2014-03-24). "Since+the+attacks+of+September+11"+"at+least+seventy+men+living+in+the+United+States"&source=bl&ots=cO0eLJ3L4t&sig=OCeLvTu3EYT1I_5G-CBNwrSQXKE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmkrukh5jcAhWB_p8KHX3tA-oQ6AEwAHoECAEQAQ#v=onepage&q=alrababah&f=false "Witness to Abuse: Human Rights Abuses under the Material Witness Law since September 11". American Civil Liberties Union/Human Rights Watch: p. 71. https://books.google.ca/books?id=ws4ft8nRXp4C&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq="Since+the+attacks+of+September+11"+"at+least+seventy+men+living+in+the+United+States"&source=bl&ots=cO0eLJ3L4t&sig=OCeLvTu3EYT1I_5G-CBNwrSQXKE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmkrukh5jcAhWB_p8KHX3tA-oQ6AEwAHoECAEQAQ#v=onepage&q=alrababah&f=false. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- (in English).