FBI releases photographs of 19 suspected hijackers

FBI releases photographs of 19 suspected hijackers

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 Kyodo

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Thursday released photographs of 19 people who are believed to have hijacked the four airliners used in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

”It is our hope that the release of these photos will prompt others who may have seen the hijackers or been in contact with them to contact the FBI,” Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a press conference.

Appearing in the same conference, FBI Director George Mueller said the photographs have helped investigators across the world to uncover information related to the hijackers.

”We are releasing the pictures to the public at this time in the hopes that they will lead to further advances in the investigation,” Mueller said.

Asked if any of the hijackers had links to terrorist groups, including Osama bin Laden, Mueller said, ”We believe that one or more of them do have contacts with al-Qaida,” the network associated with bin Laden.

Mueller said the names supplied with the photographs were on the airplane manifests.

”These photographs are photographs that may come from passports, a driver’s license…or other identification documents,” Mueller said.

”What we are currently doing is determining whether when these individuals came to the United States these were their real names or (if) they changed their names for use with false identification,” he said.

Mueller said the FBI is ”fairly certain” on the correct identity of the hijackers ”on a number of them” but is working with several countries to determine any use of false identity.

As to the progress of the investigation, Mueller said he could not get into any details. ”We are attempting to identify any associates of the hijackers and trace their movements within the United States, assuming they were still here, and overseas.”

Mueller said there have been over 100,000 tips from across the country and 200,000 leads that are currently being investigated.

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