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INS detains possible GW student

A man identified as a possible GW student was arrested Monday night at the Pentagon for falsely identifying himself and is being held for immigration violations, according to court records.

The man, whose United Arab Emirates passport identifies him as 23-year-old Sultan Rashed Sultan Jasmon Alzaabi, was riding in a tow truck on an off-limits road near the Pentagon Monday night, according to a court affidavit. The driver of the truck, identified as Imad Abdel-Fattah Hamed, was also arrested and is being held without bond.

Alzaabi and Hamed carried several forms of false identification and were taken into custody after Virginia state troopers arrested them for driving on Route 110, which runs east of the Pentagon. Trucks have been prohibited there since Sept. 11, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit reads: “Hamed said he met the passenger at the Northern Virginia Community College, although the passenger was now at George Washington (University).”

GW officials cannot confirm whether the passenger, whose real name is still in doubt, is a student. The University has records of two former students with similar names to those found on two different licenses Alzaabi had.

According to the University, a man listed as Sultan R. Al-Zaabi took classes in 1998. One license found in the truck with Alzaabi’s picture lists him as Sultan Rasheed Al-Zaabi.

The University also has record of a 2001 graduate named Abdulla R. Al-Zaabi. The other Virginia license found on the passenger’s person with a photo resembling him lists the man as Abdulla Rashed Al-Zaabi.

Virginia State Trooper Robert Hindenlang stopped the truck at about 10:30 p.m. Monday. According to court documents, both men “appeared to be Middle Eastern males in their late 20s or early 30s.”

The driver said he had not seen signs warning that trucks were prohibited and gave the officer a Virginia license with the name Imad Abdel-Fattah Hamed and an address in Manassas, Va.

Police found the first license, with an Arlington, Va., address, on a rear tire of the truck. When asked how the license got there, Alzaabi said he threw it there because it was suspended.

Officers ran a background check on the license and found the man “might be wanted” by the police, according to the affidavit.

Hindenlang searched the passenger and found the second Virginia driver’s license, a Virginia state identification card, a GW phone card, a United Arab Emirates passport and a British Airways Executive Club card. He also had two student visas – one with a different passport number from the UAE passport – and a tourist visa. Alzaabi said the license found on his person belongs to his brother.

The GW phone card had the same name on it as the license the passenger claimed belongs to his brother. While it is unclear what the card is, some GWorld cards have AT&T calling plans on them.

FBI agents on the scene found a cashier’s check for $12,700 and a business license in the truck, both in the name of Basel Hamed. The driver, Imad Abdel-Fattah Hamed, said Basel was his brother and owned the truck. He said the men were taking the truck to Maryland to service it but they did not know where the service station was.

Hamed told the officers he was both a Jordanian and an American citizen and had met the passenger at Northern Virginia Community College. He also said the passenger was now at GW and worked for Hamed’s brother.

In a statement released Wednesday, University officials said Abdulla R. Al-Zaabi graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering in August 2001. He last attended classes in summer 2001.

Sultan R. Al-Zaabi was enrolled as a non-degree, part-time student in the English as a Foreign Language program, enrolled for the spring, summer and fall semesters of 1998, according to the statement. The passenger’s UAE passport also has a similar name, Sultan Rashed Sultan Jasmon Alzaabi.

After searching the truck, officers took the men to the Arlington County jail for further investigation, where they discovered another license in the driver’s wallet.

According to the affidavit, Hamed was charged with identification document fraud Tuesday in a Virginia U.S. District Court. These charges were dropped against Alzaabi, who was then arrested by Immigration and Naturalization Service and charged with federal immigration charges.

Federal officials once suspected the two men were casing the area for an attack, but now may believe the incident was an innocent mistake, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

-Trevor Martin, Russ Rizzo and Kate Stepan contributed to this report.

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