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Bail Hearing for 6 Suspected al-Qaida Members Continues Thursday - 2002-09-19


A federal judge in New York has adjourned a bail hearing for six suspected members of an al-Qaida terrorist cell in New York state Wednesday. The hearing is scheduled to continue on Thursday.

During the hearing, which lasted several hours, prosecutors argued that the six suspected Islamic extremists, charged with aiding a terrorist organization, are a flight risk, are dangerous and should remain behind bars.

The suspects are U.S. citizens of Yemeni descent, who lived in the town of Lackawanna, a suburb of Buffalo near the Canadian border. They are accused members of a so-called "sleeper cell" of al-Qaida terrorists.

The prosecutor laid out details of the suspects alleged links to al-Qaida terrorists. He argued that in 2001 they traveled to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan and received training at an al-Qaida camp near Kandahar. There, they reportedly heard a lecture by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and received training in weaponry, heavy artillery and explosives.

Five of the suspects were arrested last week in a series of raids in the upstate New York suburb. The sixth alleged al-Qaida member was arrested in Bahrain.

Federal investigators believe that two additional members of the cell, including its ringleader are still at large, possibly in Yemen.

The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, they face fines and up to 15 years in prison.

Investigators say they monitored the group's telephone and email communications for several months and recent communication revealed that a terrorist attack was possible, leading officials to raise its terror alert to its second highest code earlier this month.

But officials admit that there was no evidence of a pending attack. Defense attorneys have submitted motions to dismiss the case, saying there is no probable cause.

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