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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FBI Hunts 392 People in Investigation

WASHINGTON -- The FBI is seeking nearly 400 people for questioning in the terrorist attacks probe while federal prosecutors build a criminal case involving identification cards for five of the hijackers. One man has been charged.

As the investigation moved forward, a Florida bank president said he had been told that one of the men suspected in the Sept. 11 hijackings of four airliners tried to get a loan from the U.S. Agriculture Department to buy a crop-dusting plane.

Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress the FBI had gathered information raising fears that crop-dusters could be used in a biological or chemical attack.

In the criminal case, the government said Herbert Villalobos accompanied Abdul Aziz Al Omari and Ahmed Saleh Al Ghamdi to a lawyer's office in Virginia on Aug. 2 to help the two suspected hijackers obtain state identity cards.

When shown photos of the hijackers by the FBI, Villalobos recognized three other suspects "believed to have commandeered American Airlines Flight 77" from Washington Dulles International Airport that crashed into the Pentagon, according to court documents.

Villalobos said Hani Hanjour, Salem Al Hazmi and Majed Moqed were at the Arlington, Virginia, office of the state Department of Motor Vehicles on Aug. 2, just as Al Omari and Al Ghamdi were.

"Virginia DMV records ... show that all five men did in fact conduct various transactions relating to Virginia identification cards at the Arlington DMV," said a seven-page affidavit by an FBI agent. The affidavit did not say whether the five used the IDs to become ticketed passengers aboard the doomed flights.

Villalobos was charged with unlawfully signing a Virginia residency form for Al Omari.

Ashcroft said 352 people have been arrested or detained in the investigation. Another 392 are being sought for questioning.

Robert Epling of Community Bank of Florida said he's been told that Mohamed Atta, one of the suspected hijackers, sought a USDA loan for a crop-duster. The USDA is a tenant in the bank.

"We understand he was turned down" at the USDA "and they referred him to us," said Epling. A loan officer at the bank remembered a telephone call from someone inquiring about crop-dusters, an unusual request because there are so few of the planes left in the area, Epling said. Nothing came of the inquiry.

James Lester, an employee of South Florida Crop Care in Belle Glade, told the FBI that Atta was among the men who in groups of two or three visited the crop-dusting firm nearly every weekend for six or eight weeks before the attacks.

Crop-dusters weren't the only concern. In Michigan the president of a truck driving school confirmed two men arrested last week had attended the school and one of them obtained a permit to transport hazardous materials.

Karim Koubriti, 23, and Ahmed Hannan, 33, taken into custody Sept. 17, attended the U.S. Truck Driver Training School in Detroit this summer, said the school's president, Joseph LaBarge.

Koubriti passed the state commercial drivers license exam on Aug. 22 and received a permit to transport hazardous materials. Hannan failed the road test, LaBarge said. Koubriti and Hannan were living in the same Detroit residence as an earlier tenant who also is under arrest in the probe, Nabil Al-Marabh.

Al-Marabh, a former Boston cab driver, also was certified to transport hazardous materials and is licensed to drive trucks and other large vehicles. He was transferred to New York following four days of questioning, FBI spokeswoman Virginia Wright said.