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Charlotte, U.S.A: Pakistani Held for Videotaping Skyscrapers!

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Pakistani Held for Videotaping Skyscrapers By PAUL NOWELL .c The Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A Pakistani citizen is in federal custody after
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2004
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      Pakistani Held for Videotaping Skyscrapers
      By PAUL NOWELL
      .c The Associated Press



      CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A Pakistani citizen is in federal custody after being
      arrested by a police officer who spotted him videotaping the 60-story Bank
      of America headquarters and another skyscraper in downtown Charlotte.

      The officer who arrested Kamran Akhtar, 35, said he tried to walk away when
      officers approached him on July 20 and gave conflicting statements about what
      he was doing and where he was going.

      Videotapes in Akhtar's possession also showed buildings in Atlanta, Houston,
      Dallas, New Orleans and Austin, Texas, as well as transit systems in those
      cities and a dam in Texas, according to a federal criminal complaint filed
      last week.

      Akhtar was charged in indictments unsealed Tuesday with violating
      immigration and naturalization laws and making a materially false statement, according
      to U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert.

      At a hearing Tuesday morning, a federal magistrate ordered Akhtar held on
      criminal charges; he had been in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs
      Enforcement. A detention hearing was scheduled for Friday.

      The federal prosecutor listed Akhtar as a resident of the New York City
      borough of Queens and said he also went under the name Kamran Shaikh.

      Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Darrell Stephens said Akhtar told Officer
      Anthony Maglione at the time of his arrest last month that he was making
      videotapes for family members.

      Maglione said Akhtar's behavior indicated otherwise.

      At a news conference Tuesday, the officer described Akhtar's actions as
      ``evasive.''

      ``His statements were all over the place, from taking these videos for his
      brother to visiting around town,'' Maglione said. ``He said he had to hurry up
      and get back to the bus station'' even though Akhtar was headed away from
      the downtown bus terminal.

      A federal affidavit unsealed Tuesday said a review of the tape in Akhtar's
      camera and others in his possession showed film of the Bank of America tower,
      the signature building on the Charlotte skyline, and a prominent, 32-story
      downtown skyscraper that Wachovia Bank once leased. The local FBI office is
      located in the building.

      In a statement, Bank of America said it ``continues to conduct business as
      usual'' but taking security precautions.

      Mayor Pat McCrory said Charlotte residents and workers in the city's busy
      financial district should not alter their daily routine.

      According to an affidavit by a federal immigration agent, Akhtar's
      videotapes showed what appeared to be the Mansfield Dam in Austin and public
      transportation systems such as Atlanta's MARTA and trolleys in Houston, Dallas and New
      Orleans

      The affidavit said the camera was turned sideways at times to film an entire
      building, and frequently zoomed in on street signs.

      According to court documents, when Akhtar was asked about his immigration
      status, he said he had a ``green card'' that his wife obtained for him in 1997.
      A review of his immigration file found he did not have a green card and was
      in the country illegally. He applied for political asylum in 1992 and was
      denied in 1997.

      Last week, federal officials issued urgent terror warnings, saying they had
      uncovered information in Pakistan that indicated five financial institutions
      in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J., were potential targets.

      Bush administration officials have said intelligence has indicated al-Qaida
      wants to strike financial institutions, and the government also has issued a
      request to the private sector and operators of infrastructure such as dams
      and nuclear reactors for information about anyone showing unusual interest in
      their facilities, including ``photographing or videotaping assets.''



      08/10/04 19:10 EDT


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