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FBI suspect was freed after arrest at border

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. -- Bungling Canadian and U.S. border authorities allowed a man arrested in the FBI's terrorist-...

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Bungling Canadian and U.S. border authorities allowed a man arrested in the FBI’s terrorist-attack investigation to slip through their fingers earlier this summer.

Caught in the back of a tractor-trailer with forged travel documents at an international bridge over Niagara Falls wasn’t enough to keep Nabil al-Marabh off the streets.

Deported from Canada in 1995 and wanted by Boston police, the gentleman may have ties to militant Muslim extremist Osama bin Laden.

When U.S. officials discovered him in the truck on June 22, trying to sneak across the border at the Queenston-Lewiston bridge, they turned him over to Canadian Immigration. Al-Marabh claimed refugee status in Canada in the early 1990s but was turned down.

After keeping him in detention for a few weeks, an adjudicator of the Immigration and Refugee Board released him in July on $7,500 bail posted by his Toronto-based uncle, Ahmad Shehab, an imam, or Muslim priest.

The IRB adjudicator released Mr. al-Marabh, despite reservations about whether the 35-year-old Kuwaiti-born Syrian, who was caught with a fraudulent Canadian passport, citizenship card and social insurance number, would show up for future proceedings.

“I think based on these facts,” the adjudicator said, “you’re not someone who can be trusted to simply appear.”

Al-Marabh not only failed to abide by the conditions of his release — one of which was to stay with his uncle at his west-end Toronto address — but he also ignored a criminal charge filed by the RCMP for having a false passport and re-entered the U.S. He was released on payment of $3,000 bail on the criminal charge.

He was arrested late last Wednesday in Burbank, Ill., by officials of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation who say he has been on its “watch list” of more than 190 suspects, potential associates of the suspects and potential witnesses they want to question about Sept. 11.

The FBI says before his arrest, al-Marabh lived in the same Detroit apartment as three men were arrested earlier in the week by agents who found airport-employee badges and a booklet with hand-drawn diagrams of aircraft and runways.

Al-Marabh changed his address frequently in Michigan and obtained numerous replacement driver’s licences, including a commercial ticket that would allow him to drive trucks containing hazardous materials, including explosives and caustic chemicals.

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